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Hilltoppers ready for life without Marcus

Chris Marcus
By Brian Penso
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday November 21, 2002

A true center is hard to find these days in college basketball, but Western Kentucky has a true gem in senior All-American Chris Marcus.

However, due to a constant foot injury, Marcus' career at WKU is in question.

But that has not deterred the No. 20 Hilltoppers from continuing to build on their NCAA Tournament appearance last season.

Lost in all of the Marcus hype is senior forward David Boyden, who has started 90 of 92 games in his career at Western Kentucky.

Player Profile

Name: Chris Marcus
Height: 7'1"
Position: center
Year: senior
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
High school: Olympic High School

Boyden will lead the Hilltoppers into Tucson this weekend to take on the No. 1 Wildcats.

Boyden is coming off a junior season that saw him average 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game .

His numbers are not astounding, but his leadership and on-court presence earned him the Sun Belt Conference's Most Valuable Player award by last season.

Boyden's teammates unanimously chose him as their captain, a role that head coach Dennis Felton said Boyden has earned from the minute he stepped onto the court during his freshman season.

"David is our leader," Felton said. "He has been a leader in this program since the day he arrived on campus. He is one of the players responsible for taking our program into the top 20. He is a unique leader and his leadership will be needed even more this season."

Being that Marcus is almost a lock to be a first-round selection in the 2003 NBA Draft, many would think the Hilltoppers' season is a loss without him.

Western Kentucky Starting Lineup

F David Boyden #34
F Todor Pandov #45
G Anthony Winchester #10
G Mike Wells #15
G Patrick Sparks #22

However, that is not the case.

Boyden displayed his leadership qualities and made sure each member of the Hilltoppers realized that they are a good team with or without their AllöAmerican.

Boyden led the Hilltoppers to an 18-2 record in the absence of Marcus last season.

"We are a team with 12 guys," Boyden said. "We have never been a team with just one guy. When someone goes down, we have all the confidence that there won't be a drop off from the replacement."

Boyden will have the challenge this weekend of going up against Wildcat senior Luke Walton, a challenge he is looking forward to.

"He is a great player," Boyden said. "I have to stick to the fundamentals, and we have to play good solid defense against the Arizona team. We have to make it hard for them to score."

Felton said the challenge facing Boyden and the Hilltoppers this weekend will be defending the Wildcats, who he feels are the deepest team in the nation.

"We want to play the best," Felton said. "This was a special opportunity for us to play against who everyone thinks is the best team in the country. It is a rare opportunity for our program."

The Hilltoppers may play in a mid-major conference, but they are treating their match-up with the top-ranked Wildcats like any other game on their schedule.

"Playing the top team in the country is a great way to start the season," Boyden said.

"It will be a great challenge and we have been looking forward to this game since our coach told us. It is exciting to play such a good team, but we are treating it like any other game."

They may treat this game like any other on their schedule, but the Hilltoppers realize that playing the top-ranked team in the country is a great opportunity for their program.

Boyden realizes the challenge that awaits the Hilltoppers, but he said as the captain, he wants to make sure that, win or lose, WKU leaves the court on Saturday knowing that they gave it their all for 40 minutes.

"I can handle a loss if we play our best basketball," Boyden said. "If we don't play well and make mistakes, I will be very upset with a loss. We have a chance to play the best team in the country to start our season. I just want us to go out there and give it our all and play our game."

Marcus may receive all of the attention from NBA scouts and All-America voters, but Boyden is the real star of the Hilltoppers.


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