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The Cut: The 1970’s Marquette Warriors

By Ross Lancaster @rosslancaster

In 1964, Marquette hired then-coach Al McGuire from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. Despite having 39 losses in his final two years with the small Catholic school, the New York City native turned around the then-Marquette Warriors into a winner in short order. By 1967, McGuire’s third season at Marquette, the Warriors appeared in the title game of the NIT.

Using a charismatic style, McGuire recruited some of the Big Apple’s best high school stars throughout his tenure in Milwaukee. The big time talent helped Marquette become one of the iconic teams of the 1970s. From the start of the 1970-71 season until McGuire’s retirement after winning the national championship in 1977, Marquette lost a grand total of 27 games in seven seasons.

McGuire’s flair and swagger were embodied in the team’s uniforms, which featured some of the most unique designs seen in college basketball to that point. Medalist, a small Wisconsin-based company, produced the uniforms during McGuire’s time at the university. When McGuire stepped aside as coach, he became vice chairman of Medalist. From 1968-73, the Warriors’ home jersey featured no team name on the front. A gold number encircled in navy blue was offset from the center, and the uniform featured gold and navy vertical trim on the right.

The team’s road jersey from 1971-74 showed that powder blue wasn’t just for Chapel Hill. The uni had navy, gold and powder blue trim with ‘Marquette’ slanted and curved across the chest. The multicolored trim is featured on each Marquette uniform combination made by Nike today, and the lighter blue is prominent in one of the Golden Eagles’ alternate looks.

When Butch Lee, Bo Ellis and the rest of the 1977 Warriors defeated Phil Ford, Walter Davis and North Carolina 67-59 for the national title, they wore an untucked jersey with the letters ‘MARQUETTE’ around the waist. The untucked look was worn from 1976-79. Ellis designed the uniform after teammate Lloyd Walton suggested to McGuire that the 6-9 forward should after taking fashion design courses at nearby Mount Mary College.

However, the most popular look the Warriors ever donned was the “bumblebee” look worn on the road from 1969-72. Marquette’s jersey and shorts away from the MECCA had thin gold and broad navy horizontal stripes. The bumblebees sparked a craze among Marquette fans until the NCAA banned them in 1972 for disorienting opposing teams and producing a “psychedelic effect” when players jumped up and down. Who needs giant cardboard heads and dizzy spinning wheels when you can distract the other team with your uniforms?

If you’d like to see us produce the “Bumblebees”, or any of Marquette’s other cutting-edge looks from the 1970s, let us know at