Magic Johnsons look to steal All-U title


Charlie Anderson/The Daily Iowan
Adam Murray, the captain of intramural basketball team Magic Johnsons, pretends to go through plays in the Currier conference room on Wednesday. Last season, under the name Jake Grein and the Apostles, the team won residence-hall championship.
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A year ago, Jake Grein and the Apostles were Residence Hall champions.

Now called the Magic Johnsons, Grein and his friends hope they can go on another run that will take them back to the intramural Men’s League championship game.

After falling short to MGR Express by five points in last year’s All-University championship matchup, the team hopes a new name brings new fortunes.

Originially, none of the players knew each other.

“I and another guy on the team were playing in the Field House one day, and he decided to go play with three other guys,” said Scott Maudlin, the Magic Johnsons’ starting point guard. “They got to know each other, and then we all got to know one another. The rest is history. We then picked up a couple other guys from the dorms.”

Kings among men in last year’s Residence Hall intramural basketball league, the squad — composed of one junior, six sophomores, and one freshman — is taking its game to the Men’s Open court.

Fittingly, the Magic Johnsons were put in the same division as MGR Express, and a rematch will come before the playoffs. Both teams are heavy favorites to continue their successes from last year.

But while MGR Express boasts seven Iowa men’s basketball-team managers and Iowa assistant coach Joel Cornette, the Magic Johnsons aren’t just amateur basketball fans. A couple of the team’s players could have played at the Division-III level.

All but two played basketball during all four years in high school.

“A few of us had offers to go play at small colleges during high school,” said Maudlin, who initially planned to play at Morningside College in Sioux City. “I think we all could have played in college, though … We miss playing basketball competitively, and we love playing intramurals because it offers that type of basketball.”

Competitive certainly describes the team of eight, whose members get together at least two times a week in addition to playing intramural games on Sunday nights.

“Nobody really matches up with us athletically and defensively,” said the Magic Johnsons’ captain, Adam Murray. “Last year, we were missing our post player, but we did a great job at being patient and creating good shots. I think the difference this year is that if we continue that patience on top of the athleticism we have, we’ll have the league locked.”

Besides Murray and Maudlin, the Magic Johnsons has a couple other key players — especially A.J. Doughan, who Maudlin described as “our big man” who creates problems down low for defenses.

Having a large team by intramural standards, the Magic Johnsons has the ability to rotate players. Managing to stay fresh for longer periods of time, the team can wear other squads out physically on the boards and in the post.

Defensively, the players’ athleticism and experience in competitive basketball give them a unique advantage that other teams can’t match.

“We expect to make the playoffs, and once we are there, hopefully, we will be in a groove, and we’ll do what we do best: win,” Murray said.

The Magic Johnsons is 1-0 so far this season, and it has a bye this weekend, allowing for a two-week break before taking on MGR Express at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 21.

It will be a battle for division supremacy, tournament seeding, and bragging rights.

“They are a good team, and we only lost by five last year, so I like our odds.” Maudlin said. “We got a couple better guys, and hopefully, it will be a blowout in our favor this time around.”

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