Marquette Wire

Marquette’s Most Wanted

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Cue the six-shooters, the corny spaghetti-western music and the rolling tumbleweeds. Hide the children and the directions to the Bradley Center. Marquette’s most wanted are riding into town.

Since its first game ever played in 1916, this team has always had cold-blooded enemies. We’re talking about the opponents with Matrix skills and bad attitudes. The walking nightmares that make you check under your bed before you go to sleep, the players that give every fan the heebie-jeebies.

The first baller that comes to mind is Connecticut’s A.J. Price. In my police report, he’s public enemy numero uno. Price is wanted for stealing a victory from a Marquette team and breaking the hearts of Golden Eagle fandom. Just face it, you haven’t slept right since he chainsawed Marquette’s season in half last season. He’s a bad dude.

Here’s the setup: The No. 2 Huskies were in the Golden Eagles’ neck of the woods for a little conference action, facing off against a steamrolling Marquette squad that was ranked No. 8 and looking for its fourth straight victory. The Big Three were wild-eyed and out for blood. The student section was roaring in full effect. Everything was set up perfectly.

Then Price went gaga-crazy with 36 points on 12 of 20 shooting. Connecticut sealed Marquette’s fate, 93-82, and half of Milwaukee checked into therapy.

There was also this one play that I’ll never forget. With Dominic James already sitting with a broken foot, Price dribbled up the court and crossed the senses out of Jerel McNeal. After McNeal hit the deck like a helpless bluegill, Price knocked down the jumper and mockingly pointed at Marquette’s fallen guard.

It didn’t matter what kind of beverage you were holding in your hand, everybody was sipping on Haterade after that. The entire Bradley Center wanted to jump him. That play cemented his spot in Marquette’s Public Enemy Hall of Hate. And I bet Price is still smiling about it, because that’s how killers are. They revel in the pain of others.

Two other criminal offenders are the Lopez twins, formerly of Stanford. They’re wanted for destroying Marquette’s title hopes in 2008 and being really, really ugly. The two banditos were at their worst in the second round of the NCAA tournament; Brook was an offensive force, posting a game-high 30 points, and Robin owned the lane with nine boards and three blocked shots.

Those stat lines were deadly enough to make the twins wanted men in Milwaukee, but Brook decided he wanted to pour salt in the wound. The towering 7-footer drained a dagger with 1.3 seconds in overtime to send the Golden Eagles crying to their mamas.

I’ve been deathly afraid of twins ever since. If Brook and Robin weren’t too monstrous to hide in my closet, I’d be convinced that they were staging an attack in there.

Every Marquette is haunted by ghosts of opponents, so when South Florida’s Dominique Jones — in my opinion, the Big East’s most dangerous man — came to the Bradley Center last Saturday, I’m sure every fan got chills. I was terrified of him. Visions of A.J. Price and the Lopez twins tortured me before tip-off.

Luckily, Darius Johnson-Odom was Marquette’s personal Ghostbuster. He stymied the powerful guard, holding him to 16 points on 6-of-21 shooting. The Golden Eagles won and all the worried fans slept soundly.

Marquette survived that scare, but there will be others. Today, a spooky Pittsburgh team lurks in the shadows. Will sophomore gunslinger Ashton Gibbs be the next villain added to the most wanted list? It’s very possible. I know I’m wearing a garlic necklace and two pairs of underwear to the game, just in case.

Let’s make something clear: There are things that go bump in the night. And usually, they’re wearing the opponent’s uniform.

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