What a stunning development at Marquette that will no doubt affect the basketball program for years to come. I’m talking, of course, about coach Terri Mitchell’s women’s squad winning the WNIT. What, you thought this was about Crean? Fine, we’ll get to him in a minute. But first, seeing as women’s basketball gets less play around […]

What a stunning development at Marquette that will no doubt affect the basketball program for years to come.

I’m talking, of course, about coach Terri Mitchell’s women’s squad winning the WNIT.

What, you thought this was about Crean?

Fine, we’ll get to him in a minute. But first, seeing as women’s basketball gets less play around here than old Tony Orlando and Dawn records, take a moment to appreciate what Mitchell’s team did. And remember that the core of the team, including standout Krystal Ellis, is coming back next season.

There was the death of Erin Monfre’s mother in January, a main reason why battling cancer meant so much to the Eagles. Then, as the regular season wound down, there was a potentially divisive disciplinary issue on the team.

Oh, and how about that schedule for Marquette’s final three tourney games. One week, three road games, three different time zones.

And three decisive victories.

The talk all week has been about the basketball coach who left Marquette.

But we should save a few words for the coach who stayed.


 



Crean Machine

Sometimes, breaking up is good to do.

Think Torre and Steinbrenner. Seinfeld and Garofalo. Vince McMahon and professional football.

And now comes Tom Crean and Marquette.

No, it wasn’t the Seinfeldian “first truly mutual breakup in relationship history.” Crean didn’t just leave Marquette, he practically snuck away at 2 a.m., going out for cigarettes or a quick tanning session and never coming back.

But in the end, perhaps Marquette will be better off. Crean, by many accounts, had become bigger than his program, without the results to match such lofty status. His NCAA struggles are well-documented – specifically just one tourney win without Dwyane Wade, that being this year’s squeaker over Kentucky. It just lent more credence to Crean’s reputation as a great recruiter and marketer, but only a so-so bench coach.

And when it comes to personality, well, let’s just say nobody will ever describe him as an everyman.

Still, you can’t deny the rebuilding job Crean did at Marquette. He made people pay attention to the Eagles again, both locally and nationally. In the end, like a consummate Boy Scout, he left the program far better than he found it.

The key now, however, is finding a suitable replacement. After an initial public wish list that included such lofty names like Rick Majerus, Tony Bennett and Bruce Weber, the focus has centered on Marquette assistant Buzz Williams. The skinny on Buzz: great pedigree as an assistant coach and, most importantly, a top recruiter.

That sounds familiar. Now if he’s got the X’s and O’s down, it could be a slam dunk. 



 


Fashion Plate

You love Prince Fielder for what he means to the Brewers.

I love him for what he means to the game. The kid’s coming into his own in the way of character, integrity and plain old fun.

Just check out the way he’s wearing his uniform this year, using high socks to blouse his pants out in the baggy, old-school look. Fielder denies that he’s trying to make a grand fashion statement, saying simply that “I’ve always liked that look, so I just decided to do it this year.”

But it’s hard to look at him these days, especially in those pants, and not think of guys like the legendary Josh Gibson or Babe Ruth.

Which is a good thing.

 


Gagne’s second blown save

We shouldn’t overreact to Eric Gagne for blowing a lead in his first game. It happens. He was gonna blow a few saves this year, he just got one out of the way early.

But barring some family emergency, on an Opening Day, it’s inexcusable for him to leave the clubhouse before talking to reporters.

It’s starting to look like a trend, Gagne avoiding the media when things go wrong. Like he did immediately after the Mitchell Report. Like he did by not taking questions when he finally did make a statement on the Mitchell Report. Now not taking questions after a poor outing in his first official game with the Brewers.

And while I know sports writers aren’t the most pleasant bunch to be around, especially the sweaty ones, talking to them is part of Gagne’s job. Even – perhaps especially – in the bad times.


 


And finally

The state of Wisconsin has always been ready to back Brett Favre’s bid for sainthood.

Turns out, we may not be that far off.

Presenting Catholic Online’s Top 10 Catholic Heroes of the Super Bowl.

And professor Joseph Kip Kosek of George Washington University hailed Favre as “a model Catholic for those who cared to look.”


So apparently, football isn’t the only religion that Favre has won over.

 



Tune in every Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. when I join Doug Russell and Mike Wickett on SportsRadio 1250 AM. And don’t forget to check out our Bar Time column.

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