Marquette Wire

National championship player Dudley returns to Milwaukee

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National championship player Dudley returns to Milwaukee

Jim Dudley (left) and Bo Ellis, two players on Marquette's 1977 championship team, pose for a picture.

Jim Dudley (left) and Bo Ellis, two players on Marquette's 1977 championship team, pose for a picture.

Photo by Helen Dudley

Jim Dudley (left) and Bo Ellis, two players on Marquette's 1977 championship team, pose for a picture.

Photo by Helen Dudley

Photo by Helen Dudley

Jim Dudley (left) and Bo Ellis, two players on Marquette's 1977 championship team, pose for a picture.

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Jim Dudley doesn’t visit Milwaukee as much as he’d like, which is odd for a guy that helped deliver the city’s most prominent basketball university its only national championship.

When he is able to make it up from south Florida to a Marquette basketball game, even if it’s only once every few years, Dudley feels like he’s back at home.

“It’s exciting,” Dudley said. “It’s just so much bigger and more action.”

The hustle and bustle of the BMO Harris Bradley Center is a far cry from Dudley’s days on the 1976-’77 Marquette squad that won the national championship in the MECCA, which is now UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Dudley came off the bench as a forward averaging 5.6 minutes per game.

It has been a long time since the players from that team scattered. Even so, Dudley reconnects with them from time to time. While talking to the Wire Saturday during National Marquette Day, Bo Ellis, the starting forward on that team, wandered over and wished Dudley well.

“We try to talk as much as we can, but it’s hard to do that when everyone goes their own way,” Dudley said.

Organizing reunions has gotten harder in recent years, as some of the players have passed away. Center Jerome Whitehead died just over five years ago, while guard Gary Rosenberger died from stroke and heart attack complications in 2013.

“Everybody’s getting older,” Dudley said. “It’s not that frequently (that we get together). Every five or 10 years is a reunion. We had one just a couple of years ago.”

Over 40 years later, Dudley still chuckles as he recalls his favorite memory of legendary head coach Al McGuire.

“In the tournament that we won – I think it was the second or third game in – we came to the arena and he didn’t have his shoes,” Dudley said. “He had his blue blazer and grey slacks that he wore. Those were his lucky clothes, but he didn’t have his shoes. He ended up wearing my black shoes because that was the closest thing to dress shoes that anybody had.”

Dudley ended the interview with a prediction almost as uncommon among fans as his visits back to Milwaukee. “I think (Marquette is) going to get into the tournament.”

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