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Flowers power: Band of brothers

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoGrowing up in a household with four older brothers, Wisconsin guard Michael Flowers knows what it means to be tough. Whether it was on the basketball court, the football field or just around the house, Michael Flowers had to fight his older brothers if he ever wanted anything in life. “It was very troubling and difficult at times because I was always the smallest and weakest one out there,” Flowers said. “I would never get the ball, but that made me hungry and determined to get the ball any way I could.” And now that Flowers is blossoming for the No. 3 Badgers — averaging 7.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and a team-high 3.0 assists per game — it’s become apparent the lifetime of getting beat up as the youngest brother is paying off. “He’s always had to be the little brother who had to fight for scraps around home,” UW assistant coach Greg Gard said. “Whether it was basketball, football or whatever other sports they played, the foundation of Mike’s game is his competitiveness, and a large part of that can be attributed to the environment he was in growing up.” But it wasn’t just Michael Flowers who benefited from having to duke it out with his older brothers — Jonte Flowers did, too. “Mike and I always had to go up against our older brothers, and they wouldn’t take it easy on us,” said Jonte Flowers, who currently plays for Winona State and averages 13.6 points per game for the undefeated Warriors. “It was very competitive, but that definitely made us better.” Three years after transferring from Wisconsin as a football walk-on, Jonte Flowers knew he made the right decision in leaving his Madison home for the small Division-II school in Minnesota, as he was named Player of the Game in Winona State’s 73-61 win over Virginia Union in the NCAA Division-II National Championship game. All five brothers grew up in the city of Madison and played basketball at La Follette High School. Marques Flowers (26 years old) first played for the Lancers and J.J. (24), Jason (23), Jonte (21) and Michael (20) soon followed. And it was at the east-side high school that brothers’ rivalry grew strong. “We took heart to the reputation that we were good ball players and we would compete with each other just to uphold our family’s reputation,” Marques Flowers said. “If one of us did well, we all wanted to do well just to keep up. Basically, you didn’t want to be the one brother who sucked.” With three of the Flowers brothers — senior Jason, junior Jonte and sophomore Michael — on La Follette’s 2002 team, the Lancers captured the WIAA Division-I State Championship. Jason Flowers is still at La Follette coaching freshman boys’ basketball, and with Michael, J.J. and Marques currently attending UW-Madison, the Flowers family still stays close. In fact, J.J., a social work major, and Marques, a former basketball player at Beloit College who is now an academic advisor working on his master’s degree, are on an intramural team that plays at the SERF every week. The two have played intramurals together for the past couple of years and have made their name known on campus just like they did at La Follette. “A bunch of my friends were calling me to get Marques’ and J.J.’s phone numbers so that they could play on their team for intramurals,” Michael Flowers said. “So I was kind of their agent for a little bit because they’re that good.” As his older brothers’ self-proclaimed agent, Michael Flowers heads up to the SERF to watch Marques and J.J. play whenever he gets the chance. Although they’re all the same side, the brothers still get competitive with one another, even if they’re not playing. “I enjoy watching them play just as much as they enjoy watching me play,” Michael Flowers said. “I go over there, talk a lot of smack, and they give it back. They’re still giving me crap, but it’s all tough love.” Aside from going to intramural games, the three Flowers brothers on campus hook up and go out to eat, head over to the library and even have class together. Going to school with his two oldest brothers is an experience Michael Flowers never had at La Follette, and it’s one he enjoys. “Someone once told me they were at the library and thought I was there, so they asked for my autograph, but it turned out to be one of my brothers,” Michael Flowers said. “Then I’d get a call that night and my brothers would be like, ‘Man, I can’t believe one of your fanatics came up to me. I don’t even know why they want your autograph, you’re ugly anyway. I can’t believe they confused me with you, I look way better than you.'” “Stories like that really make it fun going to the same school as [my brothers].” While basketball certainly runs in the Flowers family, another common trait among the brothers is defense. Both Jonte and Michael Flowers currently lead their teams in steals per game, with 3.1 and 1.92 respectively. At Beloit College, Marques Flowers was twice named Midwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year. “Something we all kind of pride ourselves on is being able to shut people down,” Marques Flowers said. “I think that comes from playing against one another because you never wanted to be the guy who was scored on.” Being able to sit back and watch their youngest brother Michael start for one of the top teams in the nation is something the older Flowers brothers take pride in because they know they all had a hand in his development as a basketball player. However, they know Michael more than did his part, too. “Mike put his hours in the gym. It’s nice to see that hard work pay off and see it appreciated by others,” J.J. Flowers said. “We always appreciated his hard work growing up, but I think more and more people are starting to recognize it outside of the family.”last_img read more