Brothers used to spend their time together inventing airplanes, writing fairy tales, managing the circus, robbing banks, filming Duck Soup, pitching victories in the World Series, putting their names on cough drops and offending network censors.
Now brothers seem to have switched almost exclusively to basketball, and suddenly they are turning up in tandem at universities all over the country. Villanova's high-flying Herrons, 6'6" Keith and 6'8" Larry, both had 20-point games on five different occasions last season and finished with 17.9 and 17.8 scoring averages, respectively. This year they have led the improved Wildcats to victories in two of their first three games. Brigham Young and Butler not only suit up brothers, but the pairs are siblings with famous relatives. BYU Guards Veryl and Vance Law are the sons of former Pittsburgh Pirate Pitcher Vernon, while Butler's super-subs, Don and Jon McGlocklin, are the twin nephews of Milwaukee Buck Guard Jon. That is especially appropriate since Uncle Jon once roomed with the Van Arsdale twins, Tom and Dick, when they played at Indiana.
Toss in father-son combinations at Boise State, where Coach Bus Connor watched his boy, Guard Steve, score 16 points in a 76-64 loss to Oregon last week, and at Nevada-Reno, where Coach Jim Padgett has a 15.3-per-game rebounder in 6'8", 230-pound son Pete, and the college game begins to sound like one big family affair.
The most unusual fraternal relationships—and potentially the most testing—exist at Creighton and George Washington, a couple of status-seeking schools whose coaches are the older brothers of their star players. So far, everyone has managed to stay happy.
December 15, 1975
Tom Apke, 32, guided Creighton to an NCAA tournament berth last year in his first season as head coach. A sometime starter during his career at Creighton in 1962-65, Apke says of his abilities, "I shot so often and missed with such regularity that my teammate, Paul Silas, led the nation in rebounding." Tom's brother Rick, a slim 6'8" sophomore who plays the high post, is considerably more talented. He was Creighton's sixth man last year, although many Bluejay fans felt that he should have been starting. Was the coach bending over backward to make sure he was not playing favorites?
"A lot of people said that if Rick had not been my brother, he would have played a lot more," says Tom. "They could have been right. Maybe in trying to establish myself as a head coach, I did keep Rick out of some situations to avoid criticism."
Although Rick was not a Creighton starter, Tom saw to it that little brother was always in the game near the finish, working the Jays' delay offense when a lead required protection or scrapping for clutch baskets when Creighton needed to come from behind. On one Saturday-Monday road trip to the Apkes' home state of Ohio, Rick's backdoor layup provided the winning margin in a 71-70 thriller at Dayton; then his six straight points late in the game helped pull out a 64-60 victory over Cleveland State. This year Rick is a starter and the team leader on offense and defense. He scored 24 points in a 72-62 win over South Dakota State last week, and he is averaging eight rebounds a game.
"Friends always ask me what it's like playing for my brother," says Rick. "They kid me that Creighton was the only school where I could have gotten a scholarship. I tell them that's true."
It isn't. Rick was a two-year starter on consecutive state championship teams at Cincinnati's Elder High. He narrowed his college choices to Creighton, Davidson and Michigan—and only then did he create a family problem. One of his sisters lives in Michigan and urged him to play for the Wolverines so she could watch him perform. "It's tough recruiting against your sister to get your brother," says Tom.
At George Washington, it has taken a lot of Tallent—Coach Bob and his sharp-shooting brother, senior Guard Pat—to make the same kind of arrangement work out. One of the nation's youngest head coaches at 29, Bob was fifth nationally in scoring (28.9) as a senior at George Washington in 1968. Pat, a 6'3" redhead with a bushy mustache and an accurate outside jumper, last season led GW (17-10) to a postseason tournament for the first time since 1961 and averaged more than 20 points a game.
"It's a little different being the coach's brother," Pat says. "I hesitate to talk to Bob sometimes. But I also can speak to him about things other players feel they can't—like suggesting a day off from practice when the team seems extra tired or asking if we can change a certain play around. I used to team up with Bob in a lot of two-on-two games when I was little, so I play the game pretty much the way he wants me to. I'm computerized. He just pushes the buttons."
Bob must have pushed all the right buttons during George Washington's opening game in its new 5,000-seat Smith Center last week, because Pat scored 31 points and made 14 of 20 shots from the floor. He added five rebounds, five steals and eight assists as GW romped over St. Leo's 113-84. Pat also had 20 points in a 76-69 victory over William and Mary and hit Wake Forest for 23 in a 78-77 defeat.
"Playing for my brother pushes me a lot harder," says Pat. "Overall, I'd have to say it's an advantage most other players don't have."