As a fitting way to mark a special day in the Life of yours truly … let’s take you back in time, over a span of 32 years, to the very 1st NCAA team/program/coach/Man that this correspondent was ever seriously a fan of:
Jones: McGuire’s Warriors
It’s tourney time and it was great to chat with Scott Skiles right-hand man, Jim Boylan, his trusted assistant who has been with him on every NBA bench he has occupied. Be it Phoenix, Chicago, where he actually took over for the deposed Skiles or currently in Milwaukee. Boylan was on the Al McGuire-led Marquette squad that won the NCAA title in 1977. Boylan laughed at the fact that it has been 32 years since he played in the title game.
“You never really realize how long ago it actually was until you see the number in print,” laughed Boylan.
There were jokes that it was so long ago that the venue where it was played, the Omni in Atlanta, a brand new arena at the time no longer exists. It was a great Final Four as it included North Carolina, UNLV and an upstart Cinderella team in University of North Carolina at Charlotte, led by future Finals MVP for the Boston Celtics, Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell. While Maxwell was the leading scorer in the tournament, Marquette’s Butch Lee was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Boylan recalled that UNC took the lead in the title game and immediately went into their famous ‘four corner’ offense. For you youngsters, it was before the advent of the shot clock and it allowed less-talented teams to hold the ball and shorten the game thus giving them a better chance to win. Carolina would often take the lead and spread the floor in the four-corner offense with great ball-handlers and trailing opponents were usually done when it came to making a comeback.
But on this Monday night after holding the ball, Carolina saw an opening and what looked like an easy lay-up was blocked and Marquette regained the lead and forced the Tar Heels to play it out. The Warriors as they were known back then, came away with Marquette’s only title by way of a 67-59 win. I remember watching a weeping Al McGuire in the post-game as the enormity of it all reduced the “fast-talking, street-wise” McGuire to tears.
Harkening back to still vivid images of young men like Maurice Lucas, Earl Tatum, Butch Lee, Jerome Whitehead, Bo Ellis and … yes, even … Jim Boylan.
Remembering the Titans for the Warriors
Take the boy out of the city; you can’t take the knife out of his hand
Memories of Old Friends
On Knowing and Accepting who YOU are
Dance of the Warrior
Best wishes go out today to each of you … with the hope that you, too, learn how to live your own life in the way that Al McGuire did while he was here.
PS. FWIW, know as well that “Seashells and Balloons” was originally going to be the title of this blog.