Monarch Insider No. 10 - Marquel De Lancey's Military Connection
Nov. 7, 2010
Monarch Insider #10 - Marquel De Lancey's military connection
Veterans' Day is personal for ODU guard Marquel De Lancey.
Brendan O'Hallarn Monarch Basketball Insider
In the nervous moments before ODU men's home games, the audience is asked to stand so that an honor guard of ODU's ROTC battalions can present the colors.
The players are always in the locker room at that time, getting their last-minute instructions from coach Blaine Taylor. But backup point guard Marquel De Lancey will occasionally take a second and hope his brother Shameek is doing his job well, too.
Shameek De Lancey, 21, frequently is one of the soldiers who carry the flags out to court. A history major, with a minor in political science and military leadership, Shameek is enrolled in ODU's Army ROTC program. He said he gets so nervous before parading the colors he practically "blacks out."
But he's thrilled to be able to do his thing, then take a seat with the other ODU fans and watch younger brother Marquel do his. The admiration is mutual.
"I'm very proud, because I know he's doing something good. And he's got a plan to do better for himself. I just have so much respect for everybody that serves us," said Marquel, 20.
The brothers come from a military family. Both parents Mark De Lancey and Kelly Phoenix served in the Army. Shameek and Marquel were actually both born in Germany. Both did ROTC in high school. Shameek's life changed, however, when he joined the Army ROTC at ODU during his first year.
"When I originally came to ODU, I was thinking about sport management. But I joined the ROTC program and I really liked it. Pretty much everything I wanted to do in my life, I changed," Shameek said.
"ROTC just gives you an opportunity to develop your leadership capabilities. It helped develop me as a person overall, in a lot of different ways."
Shameek knows he's probably facing a posting in a war zone when he receives his officer commissioning. He's ready. "I signed up knowing that we're at war right now, and that deployment is probably inevitable. It's just something that you volunteer for when you're in the military. I look forward to it."
Marquel's in his own, 13-member army right now (the Monarchs). In September, during basketball conditioning work, both brothers were getting out of bed before dawn to run sprints and lift weights.
"I'm really proud to see Marquel play basketball. It's a big commitment while he's at school getting his education," Shameek said. "Waking up as a college student at 5:30 in the morning and going to work out. A lot of people don't see that, they just see the games. They don't see the work that goes into being a varsity athlete."
Shameek said he had no idea Marquel was planning to come to ODU to play basketball until he announced he was signing with the Monarchs.
"I was kind of surprised. We didn't really talk about it too much. He came down and visited one time and we had a pretty good time. But I had no idea what school he was leaning to," Shameek said.
For people who watch Marquel on the court and around the team, that's not surprising. He's one of the quietest members of the team, and doesn't open up to many people. That's why forward Frank Hassell, who doesn't have difficulty opening up to anyone, was thrilled when Marquel talked about his military upbringing when the team was in New Orleans last season.
"It surprised me. That meant he was getting real comfortable around us," Hassell said. "We're all brothers, and it was my first time seeing him talk about his mom and her service. It was really great to hear."
In fact, Marquel thinks often about a military career after his playing days are over. "When I was younger, I couldn't see myself doing it. But as I get older, I see the opportunity it creates. I'm not counting it out, that's for sure."
Coach Blaine Taylor is a patriotic guy. He leads a rousing rendition of God Bless America at every Meet the Monarchs dinner. In his 30 years as an assistant and head coach, Taylor said he's generally had good luck recruiting kids from military families.
"Part of it is probably a little more discipline, probably, in the household, maybe a little more toughness," said Taylor, whose father fought in the Navy in World War Two, and whose brother was in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
"That's a positive thing. And nothing's foolproof. But I think someone from that background might have a little more appreciation of opportunity, perhaps. When you look at the paper, or when you watch a movie like "Black Hawk Down," it makes you appreciate a little more that you can get a degree, play basketball, and live in the land of freedom and opportunity."
Exhibition schedule report
I had planned to write about Marquel De Lancey and his brother for Veterans' Day. But it turned out to be the perfect time to profile the physical, athletic backup point guard. De Lancey has been a revelation in the two exhibition games.
He scored 10 points off the bench in the 79-48 win over Virginia State University last Monday. Then on Saturday night, he was agile and physical again, scoring seven points, and adding four pretty assists in the 74-41 win over Elizabeth City State University.
One play was emblematic of De Lancey's new-found aggression this season. Inbounding the ball under the Elizabeth City basket, De Lancey casually flipped a lob pass to a streaking Kent Bazemore. Bazemore did well to catch the ball and get a shot up to the rim while falling back awkwardly, covered by three defenders. The shot was short, but who grabbed the rebound? De Lancey.
The offense worked the ball around for several passes, then the Monarchs fired an errant shot again (last season's outside shooting challenges may be manifesting themselves on court again this year). De Lancey grabbed ANOTHER rebound. Finally, with the shot clock running down, Bazemore hit a three-pointer.
Finney played strongly in both games last week, leading the team with 18 points against VSU, and 16 points versus ECSU, team high in both games. He's also been significantly more vocal, in the tunnel before the game and at halftime, and out on the court.
Finney dunked alley-oop passes in both games as well. I teased him that it's usually his running mate (Bazemore) who pulls off the high-flying dunks. "We're a tight bunch. I like to think of Kent and me as a one-two punch. If one of us doesn't get you, the other one will."
Hassell has started slowly, and was typically candid in his self-appraisal. "I played horrible," he said. Taylor pointed out, however, that the point guard and post positions are typically the hardest to get going in the flow of the offense at the start of a season.
"The whole team has to play well for the post guys to have a real effective game. And then your point guard, you're depending on these guys to run the club so much. Until the whole team gets in the groove, they don't get in the groove."
Brendan O'Hallarn, an employee in public relations at Old Dominion University, writes Monarch Basketball Insider. To see other stories, please see the Monarch Insider website, at http://www.odusports.com/ot/monarch-insider.html. If you would like to share your thoughts about ODU basketball, or have a story you'd like to see Brendan write, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.