Without a Blemish
Marquette is off to a 9-0 start behind multitalented rookie
guard Dwyane Wade
Marquette guard Dwyane Wade was familiar with the play coach Tom
Crean was drawing up, so he spent most of the timeout
visualizing how he would react once the action resumed. The
Golden Eagles trailed Indiana by one point with 21 seconds left
in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout on Nov. 23. Crean
had called for an isolation play for senior forward Oluoma
Nnamaka, so Wade pictured himself going to the boards for a
follow shot. Sure enough, a Hoosiers' defender knocked the ball
loose from Nnamaka, but Wade, a 6'4" sophomore, was in perfect
position to grab the loose ball and bank in the game-winner. "It
was a great feeling because I had just got done picturing it in
my mind," Wade says. "An athlete needs to read situations before
That moment recalled Wade's boyhood days spent shooting by
himself on his family's driveway in Oaklawn, Ill. "I'd imagine
nine other guys were out there, and I'd be calling people's
names," he says. Still, Wade couldn't have dreamed he'd have
such success so early in his first college season. Through
Sunday, the Golden Eagles were 9-0 (with wins over Tennessee and
Gonzaga as well as Indiana) and, at No. 17, had their highest
ranking since 1993, largely thanks to Wade, who led them in
points (19.2 per game), rebounds (7.4), assists (4.9) and steals
Wade's visualization skills served him especially well last
season, when he had to sit out games as an academic partial
qualifier. During practices he usually played the part of the
upcoming opponent's best player, whether that was a point guard
or a power forward. "That expanded his game because he had to
use different skills," says assistant coach Tod Kowalczyk. Wade
also spent a lot of time working out by himself when Marquette
was playing on the road. To keep him feeling part of the team,
the coaches called Wade from the locker room after each away
game and passed the phone to the players.
Unlike Memphis's Dajuan Wagner, his biggest competitor for
rookie of the year honors in Conference USA, Wade doesn't have
to carry the scoring load. Marquette's starting lineup features
three seniors--including point guard Cordell Henry, a four-year
starter--and Crean, a former Michigan State assistant, has built
a solid foundation on the same ethos of toughness and
unselfishness that his old boss, Tom Izzo, has instilled in the
Spartans. Despite having only one player taller than 6'8",
Marquette is second in Conference USA in scoring defense (56.6
points a game) and fourth in rebounding margin (+6.2).
When other schools lost interest in recruiting Wade because of
his academic shortcomings, Crean never wavered. That loyalty is
paying dividends. "I knew he was hungry to turn around the
program, and I was hungry to help him," Wade says.
Now he's in perfect position to take Marquette to new heights.
In his mind's eye, in fact, he already has.
Burnout of the Worst Kind
Whatever adversity Greg White encounters in the rest of his
coaching career, it's hoped that he'll never experience anything
so harrowing as the 10-minute span on Oct. 12 when he didn't
know whether his two children were dead or alive. White,
Marshall's sixth-year coach, was about to have dinner with his
wife, Donna, in Lexington, Ky., when his younger brother, Brad,
called to report that Greg and Donna's town house in Charleston,
W.Va., was on fire. Greg's parents were babysitting his
six-year-old son, Hunter, and two-year-old daughter, Alexa, that
night, and those excruciating minutes passed before they reached
Greg's father, Harold, and learned the kids were safe. "My wife
and I were sure we could handle anything after that," Greg, 42,
says. "I still wasn't prepared to deal with what I walked up to
What he encountered was a pile of smoldering ash. All the
Whites' possessions, including their two cars, were destroyed in
the blaze, which began from unknown causes in a neighboring
house. "It's like a death--the death of all our things," White
says. "I lost my baby pictures, my wedding pictures, all my
basketball memorabilia in the basement. I remember standing
there thinking, Where do I go from here?"
After turning his coaching duties over to associate head coach
Jeff Burkhamer and two other assistants, on Oct. 13, White and
his family stayed at Brad's house for 17 days before renting a
place in Charleston. He has spent untold hours plowing through
paperwork to build his insurance claim (he always keeps a
notebook within arm's reach so he can catalog lost possessions
as they pop into his mind), but that hasn't been nearly as tough
as helping Donna and the kids deal with the emotional trauma.
Last week Greg choked up while recalling the day Hunter asked
him if they could drive to heaven to visit Finally, the family's
10-year-old cat, who died in the fire.
White returned to coaching on Oct. 31, only to see Marshall
begin 0-3, including a 77-72 loss to Troy State on Nov. 23 that
broke the Thundering Herd's 25-game nonconference home win
streak. With three players serving eight-game NCAA suspensions
(two for receiving extra benefits, the other for signing a pro
contract in his native Estonia), White has had only seven
scholarship players. Nonetheless, Marshall had won five straight
through Sunday and should improve in a week or so after 6'5"
Temple transfer Ronald Blackshear becomes eligible. In the
meantime White continues to gain strength from the many
encouraging words he has heard the last two months.
"The best therapy is when someone says to you, 'Hang in there,
it'll be O.K.,'" he says, "because the more you hear it, the
more you believe it."
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Wade, who does it all for the Golden Eagles, even blocked a shot in a win over Dayton.