While all of you were out prancing about in your miniskirts and Dr. McDreamy outfits on the Friday of Halloween weekend, over 85 children paraded around the Al Maguire Center in their costumes. ‘Haunted Hoops’ is a wonderful tradition, providing a fun, safe activity for families and a great opportunity to get a look at our men’s basketball team. It was a fun night overall, but a few things particularly deserve attention:First, Jerel McNeal needs an attitude adjustment. There was one point during the scrimmage when he missed intercepting a pass, and he dropped an F-bomb so loud I could hear it eight rows up. Doubtless the costumed kiddies in the seven rows between me and the court could hear it too. Given all the muttering that happened when he was on the bench, I doubt that was the only time he tossed out cuss words.
Every time the ref called a penalty on him, he went over and complained. Once, when the two squads were huddled up on the court before a free throw, McNeal physically broke away from his teammates, who had put their hands on his body to hold him back, to go argue with the referee. That he had committed a foul seemed clear to everyone but McNeal.
Second, Tom Crean likes to win. During the first twenty minute scrimmage, the team’s talent was split equally between the two squads. During the second, all the starters were on Crean’s squad and all the bench players were on the other. During the first eight minutes of play, the hard-working reserves established and maintained a lead over the starters.
Crean’s solution? He had the high-scoring members of the other squad turn their jerseys inside out and join his team. As Crean siphoned off more and more players, the tide of the game turned and eventually became a rout. It made for bad basketball for the crowd to watch and it was pretty unfair to the reserves, who had struggled admirably in the face of superior talent. But at least Crean’s starters saved face.
Third, Tommy Brice is a class act. This season and last, Brice was the team’s walk-on. I have noticed his admirable character before, but it became particularly apparent watching the scrimmage. For instance, during a timeout team huddle, Brice brought over Gatorade for his team, and when the huddle broke he grabbed a towel, got on his knees and mopped the sweat. In a game of big egos, a true team player like that deserves a gold star.
Finally, a few programming notes. The event was not well-advertised around campus. For as much as Marquette talks about providing alcohol alternative programming, it seemed to miss a great opportunity here. Second, Coach Crean really ought to have taken the mike for a moment to thank everyone for coming out. Lastly, an event with that many little kids in the audience can’t last until 11pm – start it earlier, cut out the Simon Says, and get the kids home at a decent hour.