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November 21, 2011

This will get annoying, I’m sure over the next few months but the voting is now open for Volvo’s Biggest Fan in the Big East. Please help me on this by voting often.

Thanks everyone for all the feedback from the first draft of my All-Big East dream team. It’s been fun trying to put this together. And a real pain trying to finish with a complete and finished product. More than a little bit of rationalizing went into this, but then again, it is a “dream team” not a pure stats driven or pro/potential based collection.

The good folks at Volvo did not stick any preconditions on how this team can be composed other than: a total of 12 players and why.

I, however, made my own limitations. I wanted a real team with subs. Not just all the great guards to come through the Big East plus Patrick Ewing and Derrick Coleman.

The other limitation was that the players had to be playing college ball in the Big East for three years or more. One-and-done and two-year players tended to be just passing through because they had to spend a year or two somewhere. I wanted players that truly were part of the Big East and that is a big part of their legacy. Players that you think of when you speak of the Big East or their respective teams. Not that they were (are) fantastic pro players or had great natural potential. That restriction eliminated some great basketball players such as Walter Berry (who made no secret he was just passing through), Caron Butler, Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and DeJuan Blair.

I don’t think any Big East dream team exists without three core players: Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Derrick Coleman. Those three cast a huge shadow over the Big East as they did much to build the reputation of the conference. Tremendous players who top any list that mentions the best players from the Big East or college basketball in general.

Centers

Patrick Ewing (Georgetown): One of the greatest college players, ever, and on one of the stranger Sports Illustrated covers. A truly dominant center that everyone feared. He was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year all four years he was at Georgetown. Won Big East Player of the Year twice. It gets lost because of his defensive dominance and size, but Ewing actually had a deceptively good shot in college. He didn’t simply rely on the dunks and tip-ins.

Alonzo Mourning (Georgetown): Followed Ewing at Georgetown. Not the same defensive force as Ewing or Dikembe Mutombo, but one far better than average. Combine that with a solid offensive presence and if it had been anywhere but Georgetown and following Ewing, Mourning would have gone down as the best center in a school’s history.

Forwards

Derrick Coleman (Syracuse): Forget the binge eating, hot-dog-necked, “whoop-de-damn-doNBA player Derrick Coleman. The Derrick Coleman of the Big East was one of the most dominant players in college basketball. He was a specimen, who could slam it down, had range on his shot and actually cared a little about defense while at Syracuse. Pro coaches everywhere later wondered how Jim Boeheim got through to him, but Coleman was the player you wished was on your team when he was in the Big East.

Jerome Lane (Pitt): If there is one signature play that helped define the power of the Big East. If there is one moment that launched the legend of a beloved color analyst. If there is one player responsible for it. Then, regardless of the injuries that cut his career short, Jerome Lane belongs on this list. If for no other reason than just for this:

Here’s the full version fast break, the slam, the break, the extended celebration afterwards and Bill Raftery. Jerome Lane, though, was a ferocious rebounder averaging 12.85 RPG in his final two years at Pitt. A force inside despite being only 6-6.

Richard Hamilton (UConn): He was such a complete player and teammate. The wing forward who could shoot from outside, drive to the basket, get rebounds inside and play defense. Before Kemba Walker saved UConn all through 2010-11, Hamilton did it for UConn in the NCAA Tournament.

Reggie Williams (Georgetown): Reggie and the Miracles is how everyone remembers him. A tremendous all-around player that led the Hoyas by words, deeds and statistically. It always seemed that he should be easily to physically intimidate, but he would just make you pay. And pay. And pay.

Charles Smith (Pitt): Personal bias tipped this one to Smith. It was either Charles Smith or Donyell Marshall from UConn. Both played mainly center in college, but were more suited to be forwards (and that is where they played in the NBA). Both won Big East Player of the Year honors. Marshall also won Defensive PoY, while Smith has a Rookie of the Year. Smith played four years, Marshall three years. Marshall averaged 18.1 ppg, Smith 16.8. Smith averaged 8.1 rebounds per game while Marshall was at 7.6. Smith went for about 2.8 blocks per game while Marshall had 2.6. You get the picture. It was very, very, similar. Smith came from Connecticut to go to school in Pennsylvania. Marshall is a PA native who went to UConn. So, yeah, I’m going with the Pitt guy here.

Guards

Chris Mullin (St. John’s): The only player to win Big East Player of the Year three times. And that barely begins to describe what a player he was at St. John’s. Beyond fundamentally sound, he was efficient with his actions so that no energy was wasted. The hint of style, buried under precision. The fact that he was a local kid who stayed home only added to his mythology.

As an aside, this ESPN intro to the Georgetown-St. John’s game in 1985.

Brandin Knight (Pitt): Is this a homer pick? Possibly. Knight, though was one of the best point guards in the Big East in recent years. Not on athletic ability and scoring. But smarts, tremendous passing, grit and great defense. A classic, facilitating point guard. When he stepped out on the court you knew who the leader of the team was. No image of Brandin Knight lingers longer for me than in the 2002 Big East Tournament Championship game. Pitt and UConn went to two overtimes. Knight was hurt late in the game, but he fought through the knee injury — barely. Limping, hobbling and still making plays, before Pitt finally was beaten.

 Sherman Douglas (Syracuse): Was he surrounded by tremendous talent? Absolutely, but he was more than simply tossing alley-oops to Derrick Coleman. Rony Seikaly, Coleman, and  Stevie Thompson all played with him. That should not, however, diminish the kind of player he was. The General made it work. Douglas kept Coleman involved even when he didn’t have the ball. Douglas distributed and could score. He averaged nearly 15 points and 7 assists per game over his career. Plus he did this:

Yeesh.

 Ray Allen (UConn): Before he was just a 3-point ace in the NBA, Allen was a guard that willingly would drive to the hoop and score anywhere.  The best pure shooter, to choose. But at UConn he was doing a lot more. Plus the obligatory mention of starring in “He Got Game,” as Jesus Shuttleworth.

Eric “Sleepy” Floyd (Georgetown): Before Georgetown became known for the lineage of big men flowing through the program in the 80s, there was Sleepy Floyd filling up baskets with a sweet shot that could hit from anywhere on the court. Playing before the 3-point line was widely adopted in the NCAA (the Big East didn’t institute one until 1986), his career numbers would have been so much higher.

—–

So there’s the list. Now a brief word on some who did not make it.

Emeka Okafor (UConn): This was tough. He was in my original list, but ultimately Mourning bumped him out as the second center.

Troy Bell (Boston College): Another one on the original draft, but if BC fans don’t care about him, why should I?

Bill Curley (BC): Okay, I just get a kick out of the SI cover.

Troy Murphy (Notre Dame): 2-time Big East Player of the Year, yet utterly forgettable.

Kerry Kittles (Villanova): Really was one of the best players in the Big East in the mid-90s. God, Big East basketball simply wasn’t good at that point. Plus, I always associate the phone card scandal with him.

Khalid El-Amin (UConn): Really hate that guy.

Kemba Walker (UConn): Ugh.

Luke Harangody (ND): Wait? He was 1st Team All-Big East three times? Play some freaking defense.

Michael Smith (Providence): Hell of a rebounder for Providence, but a touch too one-dimensional.





pretty good lineup from many worthy candidates .. and that may be the big story – just how much history and how many great players there have been in only 3 decades

Now, when you pick the all ACC team in 2020, make sure you remember to include Dick Groat

Comment by wbb 11.21.11 @ 7:48 am

Thanks for the blasts from the past (except El-Amin, could’ve done without that one). And what, no Sean Miller?

Comment by velvil 11.21.11 @ 9:31 am

It’s a great team and totally embodies the Big East- tough, athletic, great defense, and full of big game players. Good luck Chas!

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.21.11 @ 9:36 am

Full disclosure: you got my vite Chas…but I spent most of my time cybercreeping on the Georgetown chick! HA!

Comment by PaulyP 11.21.11 @ 12:19 pm

Full disclosure: you got my vote Chas…but I spent most of my time cybercreeping on the Georgetown chick! HA!

Comment by PaulyP 11.21.11 @ 12:21 pm

What no Pearl Washington? He was always considered the standard of BigEast PG’s. And is considered the best PG in Syracuse history by SU.

Washington would be named to the Big East Conference 25th anniversary first team in 2004, and to the Syracuse University All Century team in 2000. His uniform #31 was retired by Syracuse.

Pearl Washington was one of the most electrifying players in Syracuse basketball history, thrilling record size Carrier Dome crowds with his playground style of basketball and his uncanny knack to make the big plays. The Pearl was the most highly recruited basketball player in the country before committing to Syracuse. He was already a legend in New York City, and fans couldn’t wait to see him come up north. And he did not disappoint. He may have been the most important recruit in Syracuse basketball history, in terms of his impact Pearl Washington of drawing crowds to the Dome, and helping SU to recruit their dynamic teams of the mid and late ’80’s

link to orangehoops.org

Comment by EMel 11.21.11 @ 1:25 pm

Great list, awesome players and memories. I might lean towards Kemba over Brandin Knight just because his last season was so remarkable: carrying his team to both a conference and national championship to cap off an excellent three years. I feel like he will be a more “memorable” conference icon as the years go by…

Comment by JW 11.21.11 @ 1:25 pm

Other than that miss, you did a good job Chas.

Oh, but I believe it was Danny and the Miracles.
As in Danny Manning’s Kansas NC team that won the year we lost to Vandy. (1988?)
Don’t know who Reggie and the Miracles is. haha

Comment by EMel 11.21.11 @ 1:40 pm

My bad Chas, John Thompson did call his 1986-87 teaM, REggie and Miracles. My apologies.

I remember that team and him, since they had that full court press with like 12 players and would just foul the heck out of you. Betting that the refs wouldn’t call ALL of the fouls and those turnovers would lead to easy baskets for Hoyas.
But I gotta say, don’t remember them being referred to as that. Might have been just a DC, Georgetown thing.

Comment by EMel 11.21.11 @ 1:52 pm

That was a great team. The Hoyas were supposed to be in a transition year and most of the players were young and inexperienced, but Reggie Williams just willed them into winning. They ended up going to the Elite 8, but were knocked out by Billy Donovan and Providence. The Georgetown/ Syracuse games that year were legendary. John Thompson called the team “Reggie and the Miracles” and the nickname stuck in the D.C. area. Not sure the degree to which it caught on elsewhere. Perry McDonald, a former boxer from New Orleans, played center on that team. He was 6’4″. But Reggie Williams did it all. Total package.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.21.11 @ 2:04 pm

Now when I hear the name Perry McDonald all I think about is the brawl (the year before I think) at when Georgetown played at Pitt. Gosh I hated Georgetown back then.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 11.21.11 @ 5:26 pm

I agree with emel. Pearl Washington has to be on this list. I love Brandin Knight but the first name I think of when I hear BE PG’s is Pearl. He was the man in greatest era of BE basketball.

Comment by mikeyt 11.21.11 @ 9:18 pm

I agree with emel that any BE dream team should include Pearl Washington. He controlled many big games through big assists or clutch shots. He was THE dominant PG during his time in the BE. Another name that comes to mind is “Easy” Eddie Pinckney. I do not recall how many years he stayed at ‘Nova. But he dominated with drives, blocks and key boards with his long arms and athleticism.

Comment by jw in Raleigh 11.21.11 @ 11:21 pm

[…] is a little different from the list I did earlier of the best players of the Big East. First, there is no actual team I’m putting together. Just the best players from the Big East […]


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