Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Maurice Lucas, Rest in Peace

In case you haven't heard yet, Maurice Lucas passed away on Sunday from cancer; he was only 58 years old.  Lucas was a forward for Marquette from 1973-1974 and then went on to a successful career in the NBA.  He played a crucial role on a team that made it to the national championship in 1974, and played during what is now the greatest decade in the history of MU basketball.

So just how good was Lucas?  To those who are big into basketball stats or the history of Marquette basketball (or in my case, both), John Pudner published a book called "Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University" which is a fantastic book that aims to compile a complete statistical listing of all things MU basketball since 1917.  While some of the stats from the 20s, 30s, and 40s were estimated due to the lack of stats kept at that time, it provides a great history of Marquette basketball nonetheless.  Pudner evaluates every player using the following methods:

- Dominance.  Pudner estimates this based on the opinion of basketball experts (coaches, scouts, media, etc.) as well as the player's NBA career.  Players are scored from 1 to 15, with 15 being one of the most dominant players of all time.  Since Lucas was a second-team All American in 1974, was drafted in the first round and scored more than 12,000 points in his NBA career (did I mention he won a championship with Portland in 1977?), he was given a score of 15.  Only 4 other players in Marquette history were given a dominance score of 15: Jim Chones, Don Kojis, Butch Lee, and of course Dwayne Wade.  Not bad company to be a part of.

- Impact on the program.  This rates both how good a player was as well as how good the team was that they played on during their career, with 1 being little to no impact and 10 being a tremendous impact.  The statistic just looks at their best year as opposed to their career, since guys may leave early for the NBA or not get to play their first year (back in the day, freshmen couldn't play on the team).  There are some exceptions to this if a player did have an exceptional career.  Lucas is one of 7 guys to have an impact score of 9 or higher.  He was clearly the best player on the 1974 team (led the team in both points and rebounds) which merits a score of 9.  Had he played for more than two years on the team, he might've gotten a 10.

- Statistical Rating.  This stat, in my opinion is Pudner's "bread and butter." It attempts to take all of a player's statistics (points scored, rebounds, assists, etc.) and combine them into one statistic to show how many wins could be credited to their efforts.  In short, you take a player's points, rebounds, assists, (multiply steals and blocks by 2) and look at the sum as a percent of total team stats, then multiply by the team's wins for the season to get their "win credits."  After you calculate the win credits, you multiply it out to show the statistical rating, which shows how many wins a player would be responsible for if he had played in 100 games.  Obviously I just gave you an abridged version of it.  To get the full explanation, you can buy Pudner's book at www. collegeprowler.com.  Anyways, this stat is calculated similar to the impact rating in that it only looks at one year rather than an entire career due to the reasons I mentioned above.  While Dwayne Wade leads the way with the highest statistical score in Marquette history of 29.1 in 2003 (and the 6th highest with 24.1 in 2002), Lucas has the 11th highest statistical rating with 22.7.  Again, everybody in the top 10 list is a "Marquette" household name.

Summing up all 3 of these gives Maurice Lucas an overall score of 48 (Pudner adjusted up the Statistical Rating by a point for subjective reasons) which makes him the 7th best player in the history of Marquette basketball.  Looking at these facts and figures shows just how special of a player Lucas was, both in college and the pros.  Thanks for the great memories Maurice; you'll forever be an icon in the Marquette community.


  1. Don't forget, the '74 team went to the national title game and lost to NC State and huge leaper David Thompson. Al McGuire said in retirement that his '77 title team WASN'T his best team....I think he held Lucas and the '74 team on a higher shelf.

  2. That is true. MU didn't have as good of a regular season record as they did with previous teams in the 70s. Al Mcguire was the first to admit he feels he cost the team the championship in '74 because he was called for two technical fouls during the game which completely shifted the momentum to NC State. That game was also one of the reasons he retired from coaching when he did, because he felt like he was getting in the way of his teams. That being said, he'll always have the coveted spot of being the best coach in MU's history.