Dean Meminger Remembered At Memorial Service
Aug 30, 2013
The following was included in the memorial service for Dean “The Dream” Meminger on behalf of Marquette University. The service was held at the Church of St. Charles Borromeo in New York City.
The family has established a fund in Dean’s name. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations and other contributions be forwarded to: Dean "The Dream" Community Fund, P.O. Box 14, Bronx, NY 10475. Funds collected will be donated to various community organizations and charities.
Dan McGrath (Journalism, ’72)
If Al McGuire was the face of Marquette University basketball, Dean Meminger was its soul.
With apologies to his teammate, friend and brother, the great George Thompson, Dean was the first big-name player McGuire brought to Marquette. He had his pick of the nation’s top basketball schools after a magical career at the dearly departed Rice High School here in New York, but Dean chose Marquette because he shared McGuire’s dream of turning a humble urban school on a Milwaukee Hilltop into a national power.
Dean The Dream. More than a nickname, it was a spot-on description of an elegant playing style.
Dean fulfilled every ounce of the promise he brought to Marquette, leading the Warriors to a 24-5 record in a sophomore season that ended one Rick Mount jumper short of a trip to the Final Four. As a junior, he was the catalyst and top scorer on a 26-3 team that capped a glorious week in New York with an N.I.T. championship back when that tournament meant something. UMass with Julius Erving and LSU with Pistol Pete Maravich were in the NIT field that year, but it was Dean Meminger who was honored as tournament MVP after Marquette beat both of them decisively.
His senior year was bittersweet: Dean was a consensus All-American and the inspirational leader of a young Warrior team that was top-ranked in the nation while storming through an unbeaten regular season, only to discover that Jim Crow was alive and well in the South. In an NCAA tournament game played in Athens, Georgia, Dean fouled out for the only time in his college career as Marquette lost a heartbreaker to Ohio State. Coach McGuire made a statement about the officiating by putting both referees on the Warriors’ all-opponent team at the season-ending banquet.
Marquette was 78-9 in Dean’s three varsity seasons---the best three-year run in school history---and played in three postseason tournaments. He averaged 18.8 points per game and was the No. 2 scorer in school history when he graduated. His No. 14 jersey is retired and hangs in the rafters at the Bradley Center, a poignant reminder of a bygone, brilliant era.
Statistics, though, tell only part of the story. Dean was the consummate college point guard, an extension of McGuire on the floor as he controlled the game with impeccable ball-handling, uncanny court vision and an imperturbable demeanor. Dean was barely 6 feet tall, but he was fearless on drives to the basket, slithering past bigger opponents for any shot he wanted or setting up teammates for open looks. He was a tenacious defender, a relentless rebounder and a natural leader. No doubt he could have scored more in a more wide-open system, but Dean was content to play McGuire’s way because of the success it produced. Pete Maravich and Notre Dame’s Austin Carr were the big-time scorers of his era, but it’s worth noting that Dean outplayed them both in head-to-head meetings.
More than anything else, Dean was a competitor. A winner. The seeds of Marquette’s 1977 national championship were planted 10 years earlier, when Dean Meminger enrolled. Along with Coach McGuire, Coach Raymonds, George Thompson and some others who came later, he made Marquette basketball matter.
The image of Dean with the ball in his hands, the opponent reeling, the drums thumping and the crowd roaring at the old Milwaukee Arena is one of the best basketball memories some of us have. And we’re grateful for it.
Dean the Dream. It was a pleasure to watch him, and an honor to know him.
Seashells and balloons, Brother. Safe home.