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That '70s Show
July 02, 2007
Led by inimitable coach Al McGuire, the '77 Warriors had a style of their own--and they weren't above a little infighting on their way to the title
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July 02, 2007

That '70s Show

Led by inimitable coach Al McGuire, the '77 Warriors had a style of their own--and they weren't above a little infighting on their way to the title

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There was no coach quite like Marquette's Al McGuire. Case in point: the Warriors' 1977 NCAA tournament first-round game against Cincinnati. As the first half wound down, McGuire benched sophomore sharpshooter Bernard Toone for improvising on a set play. "This is the honest truth," recalls Toone. "During the timeout I said to Coach, 'You know something? You're a mother------ to play for.' "

Minutes later McGuire stormed into the locker room screaming, "Where is he? That son of a bitch! I'll kill him! I'll cut his throat!" McGuire found Toone sitting on a chair, chewing an orange. "He put his finger on my cheek and pushed my face, so I reacted like a New York kid," says Toone, who grew up in Yonkers. "I jumped up, grabbed him by the collar and flung him onto the taping table."

Assistant coach Rick Majerus pulled Toone outside as McGuire got up, pacing the room with a chair in his hands, ready to hurl it. The coach cooled off, then called the player back in and proceeded with his halftime strategy talk as if nothing had happened. Marquette took the floor, ripped off 13 straight points and beat the Bearcats 66-51. Toone finished with six rebounds, tied for the team high.

McGuire, who died in 2001, said the altercation with Toone launched the Warriors on their championship run. Using their signature stingy 2-3 zone defense, they downed Kansas State, Wake Forest and UNC-Charlotte to reach the final, then outhustled North Carolina for a 67-59 victory.

A mix of athleticism, attitude and blacktop swagger fueled the team. Top scorer and tournament MVP Butch Lee (19.6 points per game) grew up in Harlem; big men Jerome Whitehead and Bo Ellis, from rough neighborhoods in Chicago, dominated the boards; and playmaker Jim Boylan was a native of Jersey City, N.J. "We were street fighters," says Ellis, whom McGuire allowed to design the team's memorably odd uniforms. "That's why Coach recruited us, because of our aggressiveness and our fire."

The Warriors' outsider image is reflected in their official team photo: McGuire had them pose in tuxedos in front of a white '34 Packard at the Brooks-Stevens Automotive Museum near Milwaukee. "It was something out of the ordinary," says Ellis of the shot. It was also a fitting portrait of one of the NCAA's most extraordinary champions.

1 Jim Boylan
A 13-year veteran NBA assistant coach, now in his third season with the Bulls. Lives in Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

2 Bill Neary
Lawyer at Lichtsinn & Haensel, a family ?and municipal law ?firm. Lives with his wife and kids in Milwaukee.

3 Ulice Payne
Former CEO of the Milwaukee Brewers, now president of Addison-Clifton, a consulting firm. Lives in Brookfield, Wis.

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