Marquette Golden Eagles Men's Basketball
Founded in 1916 under head coach Ralph Risch, the Marquette Golden Eagles men's basketball team managed success straight from the first tip. Risch, who only led the team in its inaugural year, helmed the-then Warriors to eight wins and just three losses in their first organized season. Marquette football coach John Ryan took over leadership of the team starting in 1917, earning a 13-9 record over three seasons. Former University of Wisconsin-Madison center Bill Chandler took the reins of the team in 1930, hoping to resurrect its dominance of the early 1920's under Frank Murray, who helped the team post a-then club-best record of 19-2 in the 1922 season. Starting in 1925, however, Marquette would garner just one winning season in the next six years.
Chandler would become the longest serving head coach in Marquette sport's history, with a tenure lasting 20 years. He also became the basketball team's most successful coach, until Al McGuire, during that time, earning 193 wins through the 1950 season. Following his dismissal, Chandler was involved in expanding the NCAA Tournament to allow more teams to qualify. Head coach Jack Nagle would lead Marquette to their first tournament berth in 1955, where they would defeat Miami-OH and Kentucky before losing to Iowa in the elite eight.
Al McGuire & the 1977 Championship for Marquette
Following the impressive six year tenure of head coach Eddie Hickey, who complied five consecutive winning seasons through the late 1950s and early 1960s, former Belmont Abbey College coach Al McGuire was hired to fill the vacant spot at Marquette. McGuire was a past graduate of St. John's University, where he captained their basketball team before playing with the New York Knicks and Baltimore Bullets in the NBA. While at Belmont, McGuire posted five straight 15-win seasons, including two-20 win seasons and five tournament appearances.
Starting at Marquette in 1964, McGuire would recover from a poor first season and lackluster second with 11 consecutive 20-win seasons. By 1972, in just his eighth season with the team, McGuire overtook Chandler as Marquette's all-time most successful coach, and by the end of his tenure, McGuire would record an astounding 295 wins and just 80 losses. In 1977, his final year as head coach, McGuire led the Golden Eagles through a 25-win campaign to their first ever final four tournament appearance. Paired with the University of North Carolina – Charlotte for a chance at the championship game against North Carolina, a controversial last second shot by Jerome Whitehead put Marquette into the finals. Almost 40 years later, that shot is still considered the most important in Warriors/Golden Eagles history, as well as the most debated. In a low-scoring affair against the Tarheels, Marquette would claim its only NCAA title to-date, with point guard Butch Lee named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
In total, Marquette has reached the NCAA Tournament 31 times since 1955. In 1974 they lost to North Carolina State in the championship game, their only appearance, other than in 1977, in the finals.
Marquette Rebuilds Program Once Again
Just a couple of years ago this Marquette program was on the rise. In 2013 they reached the “Elite Eight,” losing to Syracuse 55-39. They returned the next season with a deep and experienced roster, as well as a loaded recruiting class to put the icing on the cake. They began the season ranked in the top 15 of every poll out there and had big aspirations in mind. Some thought that they would be “cutting down the nets” in April, at the end of the NCAA Tournament. How quickly things can change.
They began the 2013-2014 season slowly, and it gradually got worse as the season went along. Marquette finished the year 17-15, and were, by far, the biggest disappointment in college basketball that season. The Athletic Director resigned mid-season and the program finally hit rock bottom when Buzz Williams, Tom Crean's handpicked successor, left to take the job at Virginia Tech. Marquette replaced Buzz Williams with longtime Duke assistant Steve Wojociechowski. The 2014-2015 was even worse, as the Golden Eagles finished at a pretty miserable 13-19.
Here were are in 2015, and Marquette began the season at home with an 83-80 loss against Belmont. They followed that up with a 75-71 overtime win at home against IUPUI. Next up on the schedule for Marquette is their first notable game of the year, at home against Iowa. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. local time. Following that will be the Golden Eagles first true test of the season, at home against twenty-third ranked LSU on Monday night at 6 p.m. local time. LSU features a trio of super-freshman: guard Brandon Sampson, guard Antonio Blakeney, and forward Ben Simmons from Melbourne, Australia. This would be your chance to watch future NBA players if you want to. All three are serious NBA prospects.
Marquette follows that with a long run of home games. In fact, the Golden Eagles don't hit the road until Saturday, December 12th, when they travel to Madison to take on the Badgers. The Golden Eagles then began Big East play at home against Seton Hall on December 30th. Marquette has a lot of work to do as a program before they can be considered serious contenders to participate in the tournament again. Their recruiting efforts need to get back on track, and fans can only hope that the coaching staff doesn’t jump ship once again.