My first introduction to what was cool happened in the mid-1970s watching the Marquette men's basketball team. What was so cool were the names of the players: Jerome Whitehead, Bo Ellis, Dean Meminger, Bernard Toone and Butch Ellis. The tradition continues to this day: the starting backcourt for this year's Golden Eagle squad is Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan.
Are those cool names or what?
I bet you can't think of a backcourt in the United States right now in men's hoops with names as cool as these. Maybe, just maybe, one guy has a cooler name than Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan. No way you can find two guys on the same team in the same backcourt with cooler names.
This is so typical of Marquette. They should be called the Marquette Coolers. It's been this way for decades. And it doesn't end with cool players' names.
Marquette's current head coach, Buzz Williams, is the coolest coach in college hoops. He's a man of substance, a maverick who wants to teach his players about more than the pick and role and help defense. He wants to teach them about life. He cuts his hair tight to the skull, which is stylish. He is articulate. He gives of himself to the Marquette community. He came up the old fashioned way: through hard work and dogged persistence. The coolness of Buzz follows the unparalleled tradition of arguably the coolest college hoops coach of all time, the late Al McGuire.
As eccentric and colorful as any the game has seen, McGuire led his team to a national title in 1977. He retired after that game and went on to do unique and unforgettable college hoops TV commentary for NBC. There has never been anyone like him in the broadcast booth. "Holy Mackerel" was his way of saying that an incredible play had just been made. Can't you see Buzz one day being the lead analyst for ESPN college hoops? He'll be must watch TV if he does.
The team's uniforms have matched the crazy cool of Buzz and Al. McGuire got that trend rolling in the early 70s. He had jerseys designed to not be tucked in--a first among college hoops teams. It was way cool, outside the box creativity. The slick checkered designed down the side of the jersey and pants, which the current team's uniform also has, are so much cooler than any other college hoops jersey design. The team's colors, baby blue and gold with some navy blue interspersed, are pleasing to the eye.
In the NBA there are two particularly cool players who once hooped for Marquette: Dwyane Wade and dead-eye shooter Steve Novak. Both guys are great teammates, cool dudes. Jae Crowder, another current NBA player with a sweet name, has the coolest dreadlocks in the league. He's smooth, athletic, and cooler than snow.
During the next few weeks as you put on your Bracketology hats, check out Marquette's uniforms and Buzz, Vander and Junior. They are having another good season with 17 wins and five losses. They will make the NCAA tournament. I can't wait for them to win a game and watch Buzz say something unforgettably cool during the post-game press conference. He'll probably talk about how basketball is just a game and a microcosm for life and that the program spends a lot of time talking with its players about subjects other than basketball. He will talk about the importance of having a great work ethic. He will talk about the importance of winning in life, not just a basketball game. He will talk about how basketball reveals character.
It will be so cool.