Marquette's Wade steps up, back

Eagles star can dominate, but `me' isn't his game

Midwest Regional

March 27, 2003|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS - In a Midwest Regional mostly bereft of stars, an exception - Marquette's Dwyane Wade - stood in one of the locker rooms at the Metrodome yesterday.

The father of a 1-year-old boy and husband of his high school sweetheart wore a yellow sweat shirt and a look of bemusement at the notion that he might want to be more selfish on the court.

"It's not always for me to take over," said Wade, a junior swingman who is averaging 21.3 points for the third-seeded Golden Eagles, who will play No. 2 seed Pittsburgh tonight. "That's why it's called Marquette basketball. Not Dwyane Wade basketball."

It only seems that way at times, and when it does, no one really minds. Dwyane Wade basketball means the ball might go in four times out of five, as it did when he torched Tulane for 35 points on 13-for-16 shooting.

It might mean he's grabbing five of his 14 rebounds on the offensive end in a win over Texas Christian, or getting seven steals against DePaul. He's averaging 6.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals.

"He knows when it's time for him to do what he needs to do," Marquette coach Tom Crean said of his wiry, 6-foot-5 player from the Chicago suburbs.

Though Wade tied his season high by putting up 23 shots against Missouri in the second round, he took a back seat to point guard Travis Diener and reserve Scott Novak at the end as the Golden Eagles won, 101-92, in overtime.

"He trusts his teammates," Crean said. "That's one of the greatest things we have going; we have a great group of selfless players. Dwyane is a big part of that."

In addition to carrying the Golden Eagles, there's a family unit to consider for Wade. He and his wife, Siohvaughn, are the parents of a son, Zaire.

After a day that begins with classes at 8 a.m. (Wade has a 3.0 average), followed by practice, he heads home to play the family man late into the night.

"It's pretty long - it goes to midnight with me busy," he said. "But it's something I look forward to because I enjoy all sorts of challenges."

Said teammate Todd Townsend: "The funny part is that he always finds time to spend time with us. That's amazing. At the beginning of the year, that kind of shocked me, but when he was coming over to hang out with us, it just became part of his routine."

This story has its rags-to-riches elements, or what passes for them in basketball these days. Wade didn't make his high school team in Oak Lawn, Ill., until his junior year. That translated into zero invitations to shoe company-sponsored summer camps.

He finally made a splash in a tournament before his senior year, but his standing was also hurt by his probable ineligibility as a freshman. So Crean's competition consisted of diminished power DePaul and Illinois State.

After sitting out his first year, Wade showed that his transition to college basketball would be a quick one. He scored 104 points in his team's first five games and led the Golden Eagles to a 26-7 record last season.

Naturally, questions arose about how long he was going to be around. On one hand, NBA paychecks - if they materialized - would help him take care of Siohvaughn and Zaire.

On the other hand, he still felt his game had some gaps, and Marquette's first-round loss to Tulsa in 2002 left business in need of finishing.

"To me, it was a no-brainer," said Wade, who is tabling much of the NBA talk until after the season. "I thought I could get a lot better and this team could get a lot better. We had a lot to prove and I thought the team and myself both improved tremendously."

Another one sold on Wade is a coach who has to find a way to stop him, namely Pittsburgh's Ben Howland.

"He's got a great pro game - he can shoot it, he can take you off the bounce," Howland said. "What's really impressive is that when Diener goes out, he takes over at the point and he's a great passer. ... He's good about making players around him better because he's so good."

NCAA on TV

Today's games

(On channels 13, 9; times p.m., approximate) Arizona vs. Notre Dame, 7:27 Duke vs. Kansas, 9:57

Tomorrow's games

Texas vs. Connecticut, 7:27*

Maryland vs. Mich. State, 9:57

*-Ch. 13 only. Ch. 9 game TBA.

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