Jim McIlvaine's Latest

The Farrelly Brothers & College Hoops

Marquette University's men's basketball team takes on the Providence Friars today at 2PM ET in Milwaukee and as I will be calling the game on the Marquette Basketball radio network with Steve "The Homer" True, as I have done for the past several years (full-time since the 2005-06 season). Unlike other schools that think their radio crews are so awesome to listen to, that they actually charge people who want to listen in on the Internet, Marquette is more realistic about the quality of our broadcasts and offers them up for free, for anyone who cares to tune in at GoMarquette.com or ESPNWisconsin.com (don't ask me where the links are on those sites, I'll be busy broadcasting).

We try to make it an interesting and engaging broadcast, so we go beyond the typical radio coverage, where the play-by-play and color guys take turns rattling numbers off the stat sheets coming out of the break- "Jojo Bean is having a great game on the offensive glass so far, he's already pulled down three boards in the first eight minutes." We'll give plenty of insight into the game, but we also go well beyond the stat sheet.

Homer believes each school Marquette plays has a triad of famous alumni and each game, we do our best to share them with our listeners. The DePaul game had some outstanding choices, including Harvey Korman, John C. Reilly and Ray Manzarek. While every university can claim some notable alumni, our standard is slightly higher. If we have to explain why someone is famous, they really aren't famous (interestingly enough, both DePaul & Providence claim Richard M. Daley on their lists, as well as LaSalle). If either Homer or I (as worldly as we both are) know who someone is, that's good enough for us. That's how Ray Manzarek made the list, even though Homer didn't know he was the keyboard player for The Doors. The bar is even higher for athletes and they really need to transcend their sport to make the cut...unless they're the only semi-notable people from a school and we have no other options.

We also like to allow our listeners to participate in the broadcast and I have been known to send out requests on Twitter to #mubb listeners, asking them for random movie quotes, song lyrics or just words I could use in an exciting tone, like "spatula" that can be used when someone makes an exciting play. Random movie lines are usually the most enjoyable, because Homer almost never understands the reference.

In recent years, another layer of enjoyment that has been added to the broadcasts is the bumper music coming out of commercial breaks. For years (literally), we used the same music over and over again, which I guess is typical on radio- how many times have Rush Limbaugh fans (or even Rush haters) heard that bass riff from The Pretenders? I believe we started in earnest last year, when Marquette was playing in Las Vegas and we went with all Vegas/Rat Pack-themed bumper music. I sometimes ask for audience participation for that as well, but the outcome has been mixed.

For instance, we're playing the Arizona State Sun Devils and I ask for listeners to tweet devil-themed music suggestions to out studio producer, Maria Sapienza and immediately, everyone starts sending over the Charlie Daniel's Band biggest hit. Even Homer could've come up with that one, so dig deeper to come up with the really good stuff. For a school like Morgan State, we could come up with musicians or bands from Baltimore (home of Morgan State), "Morgan" musicians or "bear" songs (Morgan State Bears). I usually send about five suggestions over to Maria and either let her roll with the theme or surprise us or let the fans fill in the rest.

Today's broadcast against Providence could've presented a challenge, as there's no telling how many known musicians the entire state of Rhode Island has ever produced and the songs about Friars may be equally limited. However, one of my favorite movies has "Providence" in the name (and movie itself), the Farrelly Brothers' Outside Providence and the brothers make a habit of selecting awesome music for their movies- The Who, The Hues Corporation, Argent, Mountain, Steppenwolf, etc...

I also have a special connection with the Farrellys as I have always been a huge fan of their movies. I also knew they routinely inserted athletes into their films, so I wrote them a letter, shamelessly begging them to put me in one in one, in whatever manner they saw fit. An awesome gal at Fox Studios forwarded my letter to their production company and they ended up reading it. They called me (which I initially thought was a joke played by the one friend I shared my letter with before sending) and said they'd put me into their next movie, Shallow Hal. They even sent an autographed Me, Myself & Irene poster that said the same thing.

The poster included filming dates, but when those dates came and went, I suspected they had forgotten, but was still thrilled with the poster. Turns out, they didn't forget, but lost a crew member during filming and had pushed back production. They eventually called me and I flew out to North Carolina, where they were filming in a variety of locations. It was an absolutely incredible experience and sometimes I'm sad that I didn't have a cell phone camera to capture more of the memories. I can say Jack Black's characters aren't all that much different than who he is in real life and if you ever watch the Director's commentary on their films, it can pretty much give you a good feel for what goes on behind the scenes- they give great insight into the whole process. They indicated in one commentary, that every comedy written by anyone in the last 25 years probably had a part that was intended for Bill Murray.

I had my small role, which didn't end up making the final film, although I was in the commercial trailer and the bonus footage during the movie's credits. I had a fantastic time and new appreciation for the work that goes into producing movies and as Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the rest of the story.

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Bob Dandridge's Latest

Teams that advance deep in the NBA playoffs and even to the finals always must have excellent play from the four and five positions. The Baltimore Bullets during the 70's with Gus Johnson and Wes Unseld, then Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld with the Washington Bullets in the late 70's had just that. During this era, NBA champs like the New York Knicks relied on Willis Reed and Dave Debusschere, the Los Angeles Lakers had Wilt Chamberlain and Happy Hairston. There was also the combination of Luke Jackson and Chamberlain when the 76'ers were at the top of their game. We can also look at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kurt Rambis. There are other power forwards combinations that enhanced the performances of Hall of Fame centers such as Nate Thurmond, David Robinson Hakem Olajuwon, Bill Walton, Bob Lanier, and Shaquille O’Neal to name a few.

To advance into the playoffs and even into the finals, teams must have excellent pairing of the four and five positions. In the early 70s, the Baltimore Bullets had Gus Johnson and Wes Unseld, followed by Wes and Elvin Hayes. During this era, NBA champions like the New York Knicks relied on Willis Reed and Dave Debusschere, and the Lakers had Wilt Chamberlian and Happy Hairston, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kurt Rambis. The 76ers were at the top of their game when they played the power combo of Wilt and Luke Jackson. There are many other combinations, and in looking at great Hall of Fame centers—such as Nate Thurmond, David Robinson, Haken Olajuwon, Bill Walton, Bob Lanier, and Shaquille O’Neil to name a few—there is likely a strong power forward to complement him.


Garry Witts' Latest

I'm not sure which Washington Post article I enjoyed most this morning. First, I read the Morgan Wootten and DeMatha basketball article about the inspiring win vs Power Memorial (& Lew Alcindor) in 1965 - That was awesome. Then the feature article on Marcin Gortat - The Pride of Poland was next. Wow - loved that one too!

Two basketball celebrities...each has a place in Washington, DC basketball lore. Wootten at the high school level with 1274 wins and Gortat with his effort, strength and play for the Wizards. Gotta love an old fan favorite (Morgan Wootten from DeMatha) and a new fan favorite in D.C. (Marcin Gortat from Poland)!

This game of basketball is certainly "global" and I'm glad to read about two big stars in Washington.

Enjoy the All Star break coming up - All the Best!

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