Blog Archive

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Al McGuire
Al McGuire (born September 7, 1928 in New York City - died January 26, 2001 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) coached the Marquette University men's basketball team from 1964 to 1977. He compiled impressive numbers throughout his coaching career, resulting in his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, and was also well known for his colorful personality.
McGuire was born poor, the son of an Irish immigrant saloonkeeper. He played three years of basketball at St. John's Prep., Queens, New York (graduated 1947), and went on to star at St. John's University (1947-1951), where he played for four years and captained the 1951 team that posted a 26-5 mark and finished third in the NIT.
After college, McGuire played in the NBA, first with the New York Knicks (1951-52) and then with the Baltimore Bullets (1954). While with the Knicks, he once famously pleaded with his coach for playing time, with this guarantee: "I can stop (Bob) Cousy." Inserted into the lineup, McGuire proceeded to foul Cousy on his next six trips down the court.
McGuire began his illustrious coaching career as an assistant at Dartmouth College (1955-1957). He then took his first head coaching job at Belmont Abbey College (1957-1964), where he wooed high school players off the streets of New York by showing them a picture of the quad at Duke and telling them it was really Belmont Abbey. McGuire later became head coach at Marquette University in 1964 where he enjoyed remarkable success, including the NIT Championship in 1970 and a Final Four appearance in 1974.
Helped by assistant coach Rick Majerus, who would become a successful college coach in his own right, McGuire led the Warriors to the university's only NCAA basketball championship in 1977, his final season as a head coach. McGuire's Marquette team, led by Butch Lee and Jerome Whitehead, defeated Dean Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels for the title, just two days after Whitehead received a full court pass then subsequently made a last second shot (exactly the same style of shot made by Christian Laettner against Kentucky fifteen years later) propelling Marquette past UNC-Charlotte in the national semifinals. The thrilling weekend in Atlanta's Omni Coliseum provided a happy sendoff to one of the most joyful and charismatic figures in college basketball history.
After retiring from coaching, McGuire became a popular commentator for NBC Sports and CBS Sports. McGuire's on-air arguments with then-NBC colleague Billy Packer helped to increase the popularity of college basketball across the United States. McGuire was courtside for the landmark 1979 championship game between Indiana State and Michigan State, which is remembered as a game that vastly enhanced the appeal of college basketball. Reflecting on the event ten years later, McGuire said that the '79 title game "put college basketball on its afterburner."
McGuire died after a long bout with leukemia on January 26, 2001, aged 72, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Al McGuire Center, which includes a statue in his honor, opened on the Marquette campus in 2004.
Al McGuire's former television broadcast partner and friend, Dick Enberg, penned a one-man theatrical play entitled "McGuire". It debuted at Marquette University's Helfaer Theater in 2005. There may be plans to take the show on the road, as it drew positive reviews as an accurate portrayal of the eccentric coach.

Coaching accomplishments

Belmont Abbey record: 109-64
Coached Belmont Abbey to five postseason appearances
Marquette record: 295-80
Coached team to 11 consecutive postseason bids at Marquette
NIT championship (1970)
Coached team to a 28-1 season (1971)
Associated Press, United Press International and United States Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year (1971)
NABC Coach of the Year (1974)
NCAA championship (1977)
Among a select few coaches who have won both the NIT and NCAA championships
Marquette captured its first ever NCAA championship with a 67-59 victory over North Carolina in McGuire's last game as coach
More than 92 percent of his student-athletes completed requirements to earn their degrees from Marquette
Twenty-six of his players were drafted into the NBA
Marquette University Athletic Director (1973-77)
Conducted clinics at two Air Force bases in Europe (1971)

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