Nov. 7, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Dad said it was her decision.
But that was one of Sean Dent's greatest characteristics, unselfishness.
You know the former Cowboy great wanted his daughter, Marquelle, to play basketball for Wyoming. To run the Arena-Auditorium court just like he did 25 years ago.
"Really, Dad told me it was up to me and he didn't try to influence me at all," Marquelle said Tuesday after her Cowgirl basketball practice. "He told me he didn't want to pressure me so he stepped back and told me to do what would make me happy. You can only imagine how excited he was when I chose Wyoming."
So was her whole family--her mom has seven brothers and sisters all of whom live in Laramie but her--and most especially her grandmother. "When I committed to Wyoming, we made up a Cowgirl jersey with my name on the back and gave it to her. She cried and cried. She never misses a game."
Neither does the family (her mother's side), and Dent always has a built-in cheering section for Cowgirl home games.
Dent is in her second season with the Cowgirls. Last year she played in 27 of Wyoming's 32 games. It was apparent from the start she could be an integral part of the team. She likely will be a starter for this year's outfit.
"When I watch her play, it's like watching her Dad," Cowgirl head man Joe Legerski says. "I was in my first year here as an assistant when Sean was playing with those great Cowboy teams, and it was amazing what he brought to that team. He was the ultimate point guard . He was quick, and he knew where the ball needed to be. We are pretty sure Marquelle will do the same."
If she does, she will be something. Because her Dad was. He still owns the school record for career assists. He was the trigger for one of the greatest teams the Cowboys ever put on the floor, the "Sweet 16" team of 1986-87. A great passer and defender, he quarterbacked a team that included Fennis Dembo, Eric Leckner, Jon Sommers and Turk Boyd. Marquelle is close to "uncles" Fennis and Turk, and they call and text her all the time.
The only area of the game the elder Dent wasn't as proficient was shooting the ball. "He caught a lot of crap about that while playing and he still does," Marquelle laughs. "Everyone always says, `I hope he didn't teach you how to shoot'.
"He did," she continues, "and everything else about the game, most of all to be unselfish." What he didn't teach her comes naturally, her speed and quickness. That was in the genes.
"It's amazing to watch her run the floor," Legerski says "She has terrific quickness, and she is learning how to keep it under control. She can push it and see the floor just like Sean."
Sean rarely misses an opportunity to watch his daughter play. He's careful not to say too much after a game, his daughter says. "We do talk about a lot of stuff after a game," Marquelle says. "But he's really good about it. He's always very positive and constructive."
It's certainly not by accident that the young Dent wears the same number as the elder Dent, number 10. "I wore 23 during my high school days, but when I got here there was no way I wasn't going to wear 10. Fortunately nobody else was wearing it. I guess if they were I would have had to fight them for it," she smiles.
That smile is as engaging as her Dad's. He was a very popular player during his career, and that smile cemented the deal.
"It's the coolest thing after games when people stop me and tell me I look and play just like my Dad."
Marquelle was born in Laramie, and lived here until the seventh grade. The family left for Denver before the start of her eighth grade year. "I think part of it was for my basketball future," she says. "It was tough to leave Laramie and so many good friends and family. But in terms of basketball it was a good move for me because I faced a lot of good players and teams. It was just a much bigger pool."
Dent was a First-Team 5A All-State and All-Colorado selection her senior year. She was rated as a Top 40 guard nationally out of high school, and had a number of collegiate offers. She says it wasn't that difficult of a decision to choose Wyoming.
"I love it here. I love my teammates and coaches. It was the right fit for me and it's great to have so much of the family here. I also love playing on the court that my Dad did, it can't get much better than that."
Like any other young player on the collegiate level, Dent had to adjust to the speed of the game and its physical nature. "It's also much more structured than what I was used to," she says. "But I think I am adjusting pretty well. I'm a lot more comfortable now. I've learned a lot, and I think the coaches have given me more freedom to push the ball, to do what I do. I do need to become more of a vocal leader, and I talk to my Dad a lot about that."
She's certainly excited about her team. "This is a team filled with unselfish players who can really shoot the ball," she says. "Our post players have stepped up, and I think we are really growing as a team. I like our style of play. I like our offense because it gets people open. It's my job to get the ball to those open teammates."
We have all great memories of seeing a Dent wearing the number 10 on that Wyoming uniform, but Marquelle is all about making new ones.
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