One guard is an avid North Carolina fan. The other is a 5-foot-9 fellow who came to the school on a football scholarship. The best thing the coach has to say about the center is that he's "blue collar."
The minister's son, the only senior and the only player on the team who even vaguely resembles a star, stood 6 feet 5 and weighed 166 pounds when he graduated from high school. And the first reserve into most games is nicknamed "Mr. Destructo" because of his propensity for accidents.
The misfits of James Madison University, whose biggest claim to fame so far is that they play in Ralph Sampson's home town of Harrisonburg, Va., are beginning to attract notice. And if their style of play--unselfish offense and aggressive defense--isn't getting them rave reviews, their success with it is creating some believers.
The Dukes are 16-3, off to their best start in the six years they have been in Division I. Two of their losses were to Virginia within a period of four days in December. They are averaging 63 points a game; not much to get excited about, but still 11 points better than their opponents. That defensive average of 52 points a game ranks the Dukes fourth in the nation.
The Dukes were 21-9 last year and won the Eastern College Athletic Conference's Southern Division tournament. They shocked Georgetown, 61-55, in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Notre Dame in the second round.
But the numbers are even more impressive when it is considered who's producing them. Four of Madison's top six players received only one Division I scholarship offer: from Madison. Linton Townes, the minister's son, was wooed only by Liberty Baptist and Roanoke College before being invited to Harrisonburg.
"We play with a lot of the intangibles you have to have when you don't have any so-called superstar players. We're a gutty team, but if you watch a game, there's nobody besides Linton who's going to knock your eyes out," said Coach Lou Campanelli, who has guided Madison to a 105-45 record in Division I.
"Until now, we haven't been in a position to recruit the blue-chip high school players," Campanelli said. "We've had to make a living off the sleeper-type players, who we hoped would blossom in our program. We took those players, and through weight training, diet and a little bit of coaching along the way, we've been able to bridge the gap between them and the so-called blue-chippers."
Witness Townes, who, Campanelli says, "was so skinny when he graduated from high school he could tread water in a test tube."
In four years, Townes has filled out into a 6-7, 190-pound power forward who, Campanelli says, has every right to expect to be picked high in the NBA draft.
"One of the finest shooters on the East Coast," according to Campanelli. Townes is averaging 17 points a game with a 53 percent shooting percentage. He is second on the team in rebounds, averaging six a game, second in assists with 41 and tops in blocked shots with 15.
The back court of David Dupont, from Greensboro, N.C., and Derek Steele, who came to Madison as a running back, doesn't score much, but it gets the ball to Townes, freshman forward Darrell Jackson and center Dan Ruland.
Ruland, at 6-8, 240 pounds, averages 12 points and seven rebounds a game. He had 29 points and 20 rebounds in two games against Virginia's Sampson.
Finally, there's "Mr. Destructo:" Charles Fisher. The junior guard has missed only three games this season despite the worst of luck. He had a chipped ankle bone that kept him in a cast for a month before practice started. Then he cracked his shoulder, but continued playing. He was knocked unconscious and got a concussion against Vermont.
He had five abscessed teeth removed in December. He needed stitches in his hand after he tried to put out a fire in his car engine while returning to campus after winter vacation. And, just last week against Navy, he fell while driving to the basket and cracked a bone in his left hand.
He plans to play tonight against New Orleans.
Even with Madison's new-found celebrity, Campanelli says he doesn't plan to recruit the superstars. He likes the players he has.
"It really helps us out that nobody has a big ego," Townes said. "Nobody's self-conscious about their own performance. We just worry about playing together."