Honoring 25 Years of the Three-Point Shot in the SEC

Posted by EMoyer on January 26th, 2012

Over the past few days, ESPN has taken to looking back at the 25-year history of three-point shot, so it seemed only appropriate to give our own rankings of some of the best shooters from distance the SEC has seen since the introduction of the shot in 1986. So in alphabetical order, here is one man’s list.

You Know the SEC's All-Time Three-Point Marksman Would Be On This List

  • Barry Booker, Vanderbilt, 1986-89 (246 3FG, 46.0%). Booker arrived in Nashville the same year the three-point shot arrived in college basketball. All he did was establish the conference record for three-point proficiency (minimum 300 attempts) and helped start the Commodores’ streak of three-point field goals. Vandy has made a trey in all 816 games they’ve played since 1986-87, joining UNLV and Princeton as the only three schools to make at least one in every game the arc has existed.
  • Pat Bradley, Arkansas, 1996-99 (366 3FG, 40.0%): Bradley arrived on the scene the year after Scotty Thurman departed. Bradley shattered Thurman’s records for makes and attempts and set the SEC record for consecutive games with one three with 60 straight, 13 better than the previous record.
  • Travis Ford, Kentucky, 1991-94 (190 3FG, 44.5%): Paired with Jamal Mashburn, the Missouri transfer helped the Wildcats return to the Final Four in 1993. He established the SEC’s single-season three-point percentage mark that season shooting an incredible 52.9% from the arc (101-for-191).
  • Shan Foster, Vanderbilt, 2005-08 (367 3FG, 42.1%): While Chris Lofton shined as the league’s pre-eminent three-point marksman, within the same state, Foster more than held his own. Entering his senior year as a 39.7% shooter, Foster made an SEC single-season record 134 threes in 2008 en route to earning SEC Player of the Year.
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Morning Five: 09.29.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2010

  1. And so it begins…  Michigan State’s Korie Lucious will miss two to six weeks as a result of knee surgery to repair a small meniscus tear in his left wheel.  It’s a relatively minor injury that Lucious should expect to be recovered from prior to the Spartans’ home opener versus Eastern Michigan on November 12, but MSU fans have to wonder when the nagging injuries with their players will end.  It seems that over the last few years Tom Izzo’s team has often represented the walking wounded, which makes you wonder how good the two-time defending Final Four squad could be if they were ever playing at 100%.
  2. Stony Brook got terrible news earlier this week when forward and America East POY candidate Tommy Brenton dislocated his knee during workouts, an injury that may result in him missing the entire 2010-11 season.  Brenton, at only 6’5 and 210 pounds, might just be the best inch-for-inch rebounder in the nation — he averaged 8.9 RPG his freshman year and 9.6 RPG last season despite his smallish stature.  According to Ken Pomeroy’s database, he corralled over a quarter of the available defensive rebounds while on the floor last year, and you’ll note that he kept great company with many names of players much bigger than he.  Huge loss for the Seawolves if Brenton is indeed out for the year.
  3. The Eric Bledsoe saga is officially, finally and mercifully over.  Yesterday the NCAA confirmed that there is no further cause to keep the inquiry open with no new high school transcript generated for the former Kentucky guard.  Procedurally, this is the correct call — the NCAA doesn’t need to get into the business of sniffing around the transcripts of players certified by their local school boards, especially well after the fact as in this case.  But from a eyebrow-arching perspective, the whole thing smells like corruption and rot gone unpunished.  We tweeted it out on Friday, and we’ll repeat it here — had someone like Larry “Mr. Fix-It” Webster been around to change seventeen of our twenty-four recorded grades in some of our own (ahem) lesser-performing classes, those Stanford and MIT applications we so carefully drew up may not have ended up in the circular file so quickly.
  4. Fanhouse has been churning out some great original content lately, and this article looking at the Second Generation Team is no exception.  They created three teams of historical players who were second-gen guys, including such stalwarts as Jalen Rose, Mike Bibby, Kevin Love and Stephen Curry.  It was also great to see a little dap come our way based on previous criticism of their exclusion of Arkansas stud Scotty Thurman from their College Forever team; they included Thurman on this team (his father was Lavell Thurman from Grambling), and agreed with our indelible memory of the silky smooth guard as an “absolute assassin!”  Great job, fellas.
  5. You might recall a couple of weekends ago that several coaches gathered together to roast Bob Huggins in Morgantown.  One of those coaches, Duquesne’s Ron Everhart, managed to hurt himself while he was trying to spoof Huggins’ widely-reported fall the WVU coach suffered earlier this summer in Las Vegas.  It wasn’t just a strain or a pull either — he broke his toe!  We’re not sure we’ve seen a greater case of the basketball Weauxfgods pre-emptively smiting down someone in quite some time.  Here’s the video link (start at the 1:30 mark).
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2010-11 RTC Class Schedule: Kentucky Wildcats

Posted by zhayes9 on August 27th, 2010

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.  To see the entire group of 2010-11 Class Schedules, click here.

After dissecting a trio of Big 12 teams in prior weeks, more and more elite programs are releasing their 2010-11 schedules to the masses. Let’s continue with Kentucky, a squad that reloaded following the departure of an astounding five first round draft picks.

With so much turnover, Calipari has another tough coaching job on his hands

Team Outlook: A fan base as rabid and fanatical as Kentucky’s surely awaited this week’s announcement with tremendous anticipation. Big Blue Nation has expectations for their Wildcats that perennially surpass any other program in the nation. Their point guard and this April’s #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, John Wall, will be replaced by Brandon Knight, whose high school accolades and ranking matches those of his predecessors under John Calipari. If deemed eligible by the NCAA, Enes Kanter will fill the post presence left by the ultra-productive DeMarcus Cousins. Similarly to Kanter, Terrence Jones spurned Washington and headed to Kentucky, a 6’9 wing very capable of matching the offensive production provided by Eric Bledsoe a season ago. The key word for Kentucky and Calipari since he took the helm: replenish. And if Knight, Kanter and Jones are history next April, three more top-ten recruits will fill the void. It’s a tall task for Knight and Kanter to match the contributions of Wall and Cousins, two of the top three players in the sport last season. Still, with such talent abounding, a wide open SEC, and the true dribble-drive offense back into high gear, to expect a giant step back from Big Blue and underestimating the coaching prowess of Calipari would be a grave mistake.

Non-Conference Schedule Rank (ranked 1 thru 10, 10 being the most difficult): 7.5. A program with the visibility and significance of Kentucky should challenge themselves at every chance. Forced out of necessity more than choice to load up in November and December at Memphis, Calipari has utilized that same strategy in Lexington. The potential is there to face fellow powerhouses at least in terms of college basketball history: North Carolina, Michigan State, Louisville, Indiana, Notre Dame, Washington and Oklahoma, although these teams remain at varying degrees of competitiveness. Kentucky will surely attract an enormous contingent to Maui where they could face a top-ten team in the semifinals in Washington and a top-two team in the finals, Michigan State. North Carolina is still working its way back up to elite status following last year’s NIT berth, but the young Wildcats’ trip to the Dean Dome won’t be any sort of cakewalk. The same theory applies to Louisville on New Year’s Eve, the next chapter of one of the fiercest rivalries the sport knows. A matchup with possible NCAA squad Notre Dame should also prove competitive. Kentucky gets everyone’s best shot, and it’s no relief for Calipari that up to seven non-conference contests will be either on true road or neutral floors.

Cupcake City: Two notable cupcakes travel to Lexington when Mississippi Valley State and Coppin State make the trip for what should be 40-point blowouts, but other than that Calipari did a solid job limiting the scrubs. East Tennessee State returns their top three scorers from an NCAA Tournament team that was blown out in the first round by, you guessed it, Kentucky. I’m not saying the Wildcats are vulnerable to lose to the Buccaneers, but they will not be a total walkover. Winthrop rode a Big South Cinderella run to an NCAA bid and is on the slate. Boston University with John Holland and Jake O’Brien is halfway decent, while a Maui tune-up in Portland against the rebuilding Pilots will provide a raucous atmosphere. Last season, Kentucky did struggle a bit early in the campaign against Miami (OH), Stanford and Sam Houston State while Calipari determined roles and rotations for a plethora of new players. If the same holds true a year later, Portland and BU could be pesky opponents.

Toughest Early Season Test: It’s far from a guarantee that Kentucky downs Washington in the Maui semifinals. After all, the Huskies return the majority of their backcourt led by Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton and Abdul Gaddy with a frontcourt anchored by Matthew Bryan-Amaning and a talented newcomer in Terrence Ross. Plus, they should have plenty of motivation to knock Kentucky down a few pegs following the Kanter and Jones situations that have been rehashed continuously. If the Wildcats can survive Washington, and I have a sneaking suspicion they will, Michigan State awaits in the final if the Spartans can knock off Connecticut or Wichita State (unless they pull a Virginia against Chaminade). The Spartans return their entire Final Four squad with the exception of Raymar Morgan and Chris Allen. Containing Kalin Lucas is baptism by fire for green Brandon Knight, while wing Darius Miller may have the unenviable task of chasing around three-point bomber Durrell Summers. The Spartans will likely be ranked number two in the nation behind Duke at this point. Win or lose, the learning experience will certainly be valuable for the young Wildcats.

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September 15th Will Be “Mike Krzyzewski Day”

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2010

The past two years have been very good for Mike Krzyzewski. In addition to taking Duke back to the top of the college basketball world last April, he also led Team USA back to the top of the international basketball world (not that there was any doubt as long as we brought the “A team”) in Beijing. An inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, he has won almost every title (four NCAA championships, 12 ACC championships in both the regular season and conference tournament, and an Olympic gold medal) and received almost every award (three Naismith College Cach of the Year Awards, two Basketball Times National Coach of the Year Awards, a NABC National Coach of the Year Award, and five ACC Coach of the Year Awards) that he could be expected to win.

K: Best in the Business

To add to that, earlier today the city of Chicago announced that it would make this September 15th into “Mike Krzyzewski Day” (over/under on misspelled signs and posters: 130) on the same day that he will be inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and receive the Ray Meyer College Coach of the Year Award. [Ed. Note: We aren't expecting Chicago great and Duke-hater Michael Jordan to be in attendance.] Coach K, a native of Chicago, graduated from Archbishop Weber High School before matriculating to the Army where he played under a fairly decent coach named Bob Knight. A solid but unspectacular guard at Army, he served in the Army for three years and coached at a prep school for two years before joining Knight as an assistant at Indiana where he left just before the 1975-76 season (the last undefeated Division I team) to take over as the head coach at Army. Although he compiled a 73-59 record at Army, he went 9-17 in his last season before getting an offer from Duke to become their head coach (a classic case of failing upwards). His first three years at Duke were not much more successful as after a merely mediocre rookie campaign he went a combined 21-34 over his second and third seasons. At that point many critics suspected Krzyzewski’s days in Durham were numbered, but little did they know that the freshman class that season (Johnny DawkinsMark AlarieDavid Henderson, and Jay Bilas) would wind up being one of the greatest classes in the school’s history. After that group made it to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament in their sophomore and junior campaigns they took off as seniors in what is widely considered one of the finest seasons in college basketball history. That group entered the championship game with a 37-2 record against a Denny Crum-led Louisville team before falling by three points to freshman sensation “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison and the Cardinals.

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Morning Five: 08.18.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 18th, 2010

  1. It was unsettling kind of day, as two lawsuits involving high-major coaches were settled yesterday.  Perhaps they saw Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s fifteen seconds of infamy and decided to hedge their bets, but former Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and current Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy both settled their ongoing lawsuits yesterday.  Gonzalez was embroiled in a wrongful termination suit with Seton Hall after getting the axe in March on the heels of a  public blowup with the law school dean, claiming he was owed two more years of salary.  Kennedy settled his defamation suit against a cab driver and valet over a dust-up in 2008 where the pair accused the coach of using racial slurs because the cabbie wouldn’t allow the five people in Kennedy’s group into his vehicle (the max is four).  Details of both settlements were not released, which is just as well for everyone involved.
  2. While on the topic of lawsuits, the Pitino/Sypher saga won’t die in Louisville.  Defense attorney James Earhart now claims that he has new information that specifically leads him to believe that some of the prosecution’s witnesses perjured themselves while under oath.  He’s asking for a 45-day extension to further research these allegations and believes that it will ultimately lead to a mistrial on appeal.  Maybe this is Earhart’s way of saying that it might have been a good idea to call some witnesses who could have impeached their testimony during the trial?
  3. The legacy of John Wooden will live on in the form of the contents of his den — all the hundreds of pieces of memorabilia that the Wizard held onto over the years — which will be moved en masse over to the UCLA campus for fans to enjoy as a virtual Wooden terrarium.  We’ve already got plans to visit UCLA’s JD Morgan Center later this year to see this.
  4. We had the privilege of seeing all six of Butler’s NCAA Tournament games live last year, and in each game more than the last, we came away impressed with the poise and abilities of the Bulldogs’ Shelvin Mack.  Luke Winn writes that Mack, more than any other player on the summer circuit of camps and USA Basketball, has elevated himself to the point where he’s getting rave reviews from veteran guards in the League.  Case in point: Mack was chosen over quite a few big names for his spot on the USA Select team, players such as Scoop Jardine, Scotty Hopson, Jacob Pullen and Jimmer Fredette.  Could Mack, Ronald Nored and Matt Howard propel Butler toward another Final Four next year?  They may be closer than conventional wisdom says even after losing star forward Gordon Hayward.
  5. Fanhouse put together a cool idea — figuring out who should make up the College-Forever team.  Using the general criteria of great collegiate players who barely earned a cup of coffee in the NBA (or none at all), who would populate your top three teams of the modern era (1985 to present)?  We only saw one major omission, and that was Arkansas’ Scotty Thurman, who despite a brilliant college career never logged a single second in the NBA.  Nevertheless, he was an absolute assassin for Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” Razorbacks, winning multiple games with his smooth stroke in late-game situations, most notably from the wing over Duke in 1994.  He should have been on the first-team over Ed Cota, and at worst second-team.  Cool concept, though.
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Morning Five: 08.12.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 12th, 2010

  1. Nothing is ever easy with this guy, who now may hold the honor for the longest short consultancy in the history of professional basketball.  Isiah Thomas announced on Wednesday that he would rescind his new contract with the New York Knicks, largely to avoid the conflict of interest inherent in coaching collegiate players while working for an NBA franchise.  Getting bored yet, Isiah?
  2. You may not be able to see LeBron James there anymore on a regular basis, but you can still see the MAC Tournament at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.  The league announced yesterday that the tourney will be held there through 2017.  MAC faithful are no strangers to the venue, as the league has already held its marquee event there since 2000.  For a look at how the MAC looks heading into the 2010-11 season, check out our Summer School post on the league from this week.
  3. The UNC reclamation project began last night in Nassau, Bahamas, as Roy Williams’ team played its first of a two-game set in the Caribbean paradise.  The early return on #1 recruit Harrison Barnes — 21/8 on 8-15 shooting in 29 minutes of action.  He also fouled out of the game, so that’s something to watch in the coming months.
  4. Former Arkansas star Scotty Thurman joins his fellow Hawg All-American Corliss Williamson in taking up the coaching reins this summer.  Thurman is joining John Pelphrey’s staff at Arkansas just months after Williamson became the spanking-new head coach at Central Arkansas.  If either of those  nascent coaches can instill the all-out effort and tenacity in their kids that they both played with as Razorbacks, expect both to be very successful in this next step of their careers.
  5. Kansas State’s Frank Martin got philosophical yesterday during a motivational speech for Wichita-area teachers when talking about whether kids have changed from previous generations.  His essential take:  kids haven’t changed, but the expectations from adults for them has.  Check out the entire clip below…
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What’s Good for the Game isn’t Good for the Gander

Posted by nvr1983 on April 22nd, 2009

Andy Katz wrote in his blog today that the NCAA Legislative Committee voted on Monday to make a rule change effective in 2010 that would shorten the amount of time that an early entry would have to ‘test the waters’ with NBA teams before making a final decision to enter the draft.

If the NCAA board of directors endorses the legislative panel’s decision to reduce the early entry decision window from six weeks to approximately one week, there won’t be any reasonable way for underclassmen to test the draft process. USA Today first reported the panel’s decision, which would make underclassmen decide by May 8 whether they were staying in the draft. The current deadline is 10 days before the draft in mid-June. (The rule would go into effect for next year’s draft class.)

This legislation was the compromise position after the ACC came to the table asking for a ten-day window following the conclusion of the national championship game.  We’ve written about this before, but let us reiterate for those of you who missed our first tirade: this is a TERRIBLE decision.

testing-waters

As Katz points out very clearly in his post, the withdrawal deadline would then become somewhere around the end of the first week of May each year, which would allow players a window of a mere 7-10 days in which to make themselves available for private workouts with NBA teams.  And if you’re like us and your collegiate days are well into the rear-view mirror, you may have forgotten that the end of April/beginning of May also usually coincides with exams for most college students around the country, even those who play basketball on the side.  In other words, the NCAA is making it that much harder for a prospective early entry to get good feedback on his status.

Let’s take a quick look at a system that generally works – the current one.  Last year, there were 69 American players who originally decided to test the waters.  Thirty-five of those players felt confident enough in their standing to stay in the draft, and 28 of those (80%) were actually selected on draft night in MSG (21 with guaranteed money in the first round).   Now we aren’t going to say what was going through the heads of every one of those 34 players who returned to school (guys like Josh Akognon, Chase Budinger, Jerel McNeal and of course the Carolina trio), but we’d absolutely wager that many of them iniitally thought they were ready for the NBA.  It was only after they were able to get objective feedback from NBA scouts and teams as to their projected draft status that they were able to make an informed decision to not cede their remaining eligibility on a gut feeling.

How quick we are to forget our history.  The reason the early entry withdrawal  rule was initially instituted was to allow players like Scotty Thurman and Thomas Hamilton to get good, objective feedback on their draft status prior to making a final decision.  It’s very easy to think you’re a lottery pick when you’re the best player on a successful college team and everyone around you is telling you that you’re a superstar.  It’s less easy to think that when scouts tell you that you’re undersized, need to work on your shooting or you’re slow for your position at the next level (i.e., the truth).   What the NCAA is endorsing here is the opportunity for more of the former and less of the latter, which will ultimately mean that more players are going to make an ill-informed gut-based decision to stay in the draft, only to be surprised when they’re not chosen six weeks later.  It’s bad for the players’ futures, who throw away an opportunity at a degree and further training in basketball; it’s bad for the schools who could benefit in many ways by getting key non-NBA-ready players to return (cough, cough, UNC), and it’s bad for the game itself, which is always enriched when the players who should still be playing at that level are actually doing so.

211090215056_north_carolina_at_miami

Now, we know who is driving this – the coaches (how dare some of these guys complain!).  Despite all the hollow and vacuous lip service they give to being there for their kids and wanting only what’s best for their players, what they’re really doing is making life easier on themselves.  By shaving five weeks from the early entry withdrawal deadline, it will now give Coach Blowhard another month to finish recruiting, shore up his roster and adequately plan for the next season.  There is some merit to this position – some – but by making it eminently more difficult for his players to learn their individual strengths and weaknesses from an objective source prior to the withdrawal deadline (e.g., the NBA Combine, scheduled to start in late May of this year),  they’re much more likely to fall back on gut instincts which will almost always favor the dream of the NBA over taking more exams.  Any benefit to the coach and program by this initiative is more than lost by enabling poor decisionmaking from the players.

From our stance, this is an unconscionable position for the coaches to take, especially given how much they talk about helping their players get to the next level, and we’re extremely disappointed in this decision.  Let’s hope the NCAA Board of Directors shoots it down next week.

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Where are they now? (Championship Edition)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2008

We found an interesting piece in ESPN.com’s Daily Dime last week. They decided to list players from recent championship teams that are still in the NBA. They happened to miss a few players who we added. We might have missed a player here and there. If we did, leave a comment with an update on their status since it’s hard to keep track of all these leagues around the world.

You may notice that the number of NBA superstars from championship teams has decreased in recent years with the exception of Carmelo Anthony. We feel it is pretty clear that this is becasue a lot of guys who are NBA stars decided to skip college or not stay around long enough to win a title. We’re pretty sure Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard (he would be a senior now!) would have affected the NCAA tournament a little.

The list:
2006-07 Florida: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, & Chris Richard.
-All of the UF guys seem like they could end up being solid pros. Even Richard who is spending time in the NBDL could end up being a decent bench guy. Horford has exceeded expectations and is challenging the much more hyped Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year honors. The real question is whether any of them other than Horford will become stars in the league. Noah and Brewer have a chance, but we aren’t sold on them yet. We think Noah will end up being a solid contributor if he can keep his mouth shut.

2005 North Carolina: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, & Marvin Williams
– All of the Tar Heels have turned into respectable NBA players, which isn’t surprising to anybody who say this team play. May hasn’t played this year due to injuries, but was putting up respectable numbers when he was healthy. Felton and Williams are definitely the studs of this group although McCants does show flashes of brilliance up in Minnesota not that anybody sees the Timberwolves play.

2004 Connecticut: Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, & Charlie Villanueva
– While this group has turned out 3 solid NBA players (Okafor, Gordon, and Villanueva), we get the suspicion that none of these guys will turn into the superstars they were expected to be. It seems hard to believe that a lot of people thought Orlando made a mistake drafting Dwight Howard ahead of Okafor in 2004. However, this is a solid group of pros that will probably end up being the equal of the last 2 championship teams (UNC and UF).

2003 Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony & Hakim Warrick
– While Melo has lived up to the hype and is a perennial All-Star, it appears that Warrick is going to stay in the 10 PPG and 5 RPG range, which is probably worth a $8 mill/yr contract or a max contract if Warrick can wait for an offer from Isiah. Having seen this team play at the East Regional in Albany that year, this is one of our favorite championship teams particularly because they were the last team that was a big surprise winning the tournament. We knew that Gerry McNamara’s game wouldn’t work at the NBA level, but we always liked him and often thought that he was closer to Jameer Nelson in college than a lot of analysts were willing to admit.

2002 Maryland: Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, & Chris Wilcox
– The players from this team, which won the ugliest Final 4 in recent memory, have done just about what we expected as pros. Dixon has been a solid player who is often underappreciated by his team and has floated around the league but contributed everywhere he has gone. Steve Blake has provided solid if unspectacular point guard play and won a starting job in Portland for a time over the uber-hyped Sebastian Telfair. Wilcox has been somewhat of a disappointment. He puts up solid numbers, but has never turned into the star that his athletic ability suggests he could be. Of course, he was the same way in college so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

2001 Duke: Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, & Mike Dunleavy
– It amazing that on this team with several college superstars (including Jason Williams), that Boozer turned out to be the stud of the group. While Casey Sanders’s lack of development forced him to play the center position more than he probably should have, he was a guy who was routinely abused by Brendan Haywood. Somehow, Boozer grew a pair of huevos; so much so that he stabbed a blind man in the back. Just imagine what Boozer could have become if he had stayed in Cleveland to play with Lebron James. Battier, Duhon, and Dunleavy are all solid NBA players even if they haven’t lived up to their draft status (Dunleavy) or hype (Duhon-“What a man!”). To be fair, Battier was selected after Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, so maybe he wasn’t taken too early. The most disappointing thing about this group is that we never got to see what Jason Williams could have become. Although he struggled adjusting as a rookie with the Bulls, he showed flashes of brilliances including a triple-double against a still-in-his-prime Jason Kidd.

2000 Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, & Jason Richardson
– Jason Richardson has put up solid numbers even if we have a hard time considering him a star. He’s a phenomenal athlete who has never really made the transition to the superstar (except in fantasy basketball) that many projected for him. Morris Peterson had a solid run as a consistent double-figure guy in Toronto before going to New Orleans this year. As for Bell, we never expected much out of him, but he has had a nice little career and actually averaged 13.5 PPG last year. That championship team’s heart and soul was Mateen Cleaves who had a couple of nice seasons where he was one of the top cheerleaders in the league particularly when he was on the Kings. However, he never stuck and according to Wikipedia he is now playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL.

1999 Connecticut: Richard Hamilton & Jake Voskuhl
– This team, which we ranked as the best team of the past 10 years, knocked off an unbelievably loaded Duke team that might have been in the top 10 of all-time had they won that night in St. Petersburg. While Hamilton has been an excellent NBA player and one of the few guys in the league who can hit a mid-range jumper, the rest of this team has been a disappointment. We had no idea that Voskuhl was still in the league and barely noticed him when we knew he was in the league. The team’s other star Khalid El-Amin played for a short time in the NBA before finding his way to the CBA and Ukranian Basketball League before end up with Türk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish basketball league. We weren’t able to find much information about Ricky Moore, the star of the title game. We’re assuming that he had a rather undistinguished career after that night in St. Pete.

1998 Kentucky: Nazr Mohammed & Jamaal Magloire
– The Wildcats, who weren’t expected to win the title this year, were fueled by a big comeback against a very young Duke team in the South Regional finals. Looking back at this team’s roster, we couldn’t see anybody else on this team making a big impact in the NBA. Magloire had a run from 2002-2006 where he averaged around 10/10 and made an All-Star team (more the result of the lack of centers than his exceptional play) while Mohammed has had a slightly less distinguished career. His most notable achievement was helping the San Antonio Spurs win the 2005 NBA Championship (with an assist from Isiah Thomas).

1997 Arizona: Mike Bibby & Jason Terry
– Both Bibby and Terry have had excellent careers as was expected for them coming out of college. The more intereresting story is that of the team’s star Miles Simon. Simon was never considered a top NBA prospect, but we at least expected that he would stick around the league because he could make plays. Instead he spent a year in Orlando then traveled across the globe, before ending up in the CBA where as his Wikipedia page states he became “the most decorated player in CBA history”. Not exactly what we expect out of the MOP.

1996 Kentucky: Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson & Nazr Mohammed
– This was likely the last of the all-time great teams. This team was incredibly deep with 6 guys who had significant NBA careers (including Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, and Walter McCarty). This team just crushed the teams they played utilizing Pitino’s press with their superior talent and athleticism. None of the players ever became a superstar, but all of their studs had solid NBA careers including a handful of All-Star appearances and awards. We’ll leave Rick Pitino’s stint in Boston for another post.

1995 UCLA: N/A
– This team didn’t really have as many superstars as other championship teams did, but they played very well together finishing an impressive 32-1. They had 2 first-round picks (Ed O’Bannon and George Zidek) who had short-lived NBA careers. The team’s other stars were Tyus Edney, Toby Bailey, and Charles O’Bannon, but none of them ever did anything notable in the NBA.

1994 Arkansas: N/A
– Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” team used a late Scotty Thurman rainbow 3 to knock off Grant Hill’s Duke team, which basically consisted of Hill and a bunch of nobodies. Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson had a nice career first in Sacramento then in Detroit even winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Thurman ended up leaving school early, going undrafted, and playing in the CBA.

1993 UNC: N/A
– This team didn’t really have any guys we considered potential NBA All-Stars back in 1993. Of course, we were 10 at the time and were already learning to hate the Tar Heels. We’ll let you look at the starting lineup and make up your mind: Eric Montross, Brian Reese, George Lynch, Donald Williams, and Derrick Phelps. Not exactly a murderer’s row of talent there. To be fair, Montross, who hails from the same high school as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. (Lawrence North in Indianapolis), was selected 9th overall by the Celtics and had a decent rookie season before falling off the map. George Lynch was also considered a solid prospect coming out as 12th overall to the Lakers. He only had a mediocre pro career never averaging over 8.6 PPG and his main NBA achievements on Wikipedia are wearing 3 numbers (#24, #30 and #9) while with the Lakers and being traded to the Grizzlies to clear up cap space (and buffet space) for some guy named Shaq. Phelps played briefly in the NBA. And when we say briefly we mean 3 games and 1 shot, which he missed. Donald Williams, who is best remembered for being the MOP and having a huge game against the Fab 5 in the title game, spent his professional career floating around every league on the planet except for the NBA. The more interesting thing is that the Tar Heels actually had more talent the next year when they added Jerry Stackhouse and a young Rasheed Wallace (who in a sign of things to come got tossed from the McDonald’s All-American game) to this nucleus. However, the 1994 team never really came together and lost to Bill Curley and the Boston College Eagles, which was famously captured on this SI cover.

1991-92 Duke: Grant Hill
– Along with the 1996 UK team, Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils were the last of the teams that we consider truly great. To consider how big/great this team was, you have to remember that before this team, Mike Krzyzewski’s boys were the lovable losers who couldn’t win the big one despite multiple Final 4 trips. After this team, Duke became Duke. This team was really built around their 3 superstars: Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill. Everyone knows their college accomplishments: Laettner (#12 on ESPN’s list; maybe the top college player since 1990); Hurley (NCAA all-time assist leader); and Hill (also led Duke to the title game with a YMCA team around him in 1994). Laettner actually had a decent pro career, which most people would realize if he hadn’t been so great in college or if he wasn’t the most hated college player of all-time (multiply Joakim Noah by 100 and you get Laettner). His career highlights include an All-Star appearance as well as being an original Dream Teamer (ok, I can’t type that with a straight face). Hurley was selected 7th overall by Sacramento, but had his career derailed early with a car accident (signs of things to come for another great Duke point guard). However, we don’t think he would have ever become a great NBA PG as evident by how Jason Kidd destroyed him in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Hill actually had the best NBA career of the bunch and was considered one of the top 5-10 players in the league before multiple foot/ankle injuries eventually turned him into a shell of the player that he once was. Antonio Lang was taken 29th overall by Phoenix, but never did much in the pros. Brian Davis played a season in the NBA before floating around the basketball planet and settling on running a Duke-based group that tried to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner (the deal fell through). Thomas Hill (best known for being the guy crying after Laettner’s 1992 East Regional shot) was drafted 39th overall by Indiana, but never played in the NBA as he played in the Australian National Basketball League for a few years.

That’s all I have on these guys/teams. If you have any more information or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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Welcome Back, Big Nasty!

Posted by rtmsf on September 26th, 2007

When we saw the news today that the “Big Nasty” is retiring from the NBA and returning to the college ranks to become an assistant coach for Arkansas Baptist College, our easily distracted brains floated back to reflect on what we believe was one of the top half-dozen or so college careers of the 90s. 

Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” Arkansas teams of Corliss Williamson, Scotty Thurman, Corey Beck (who in completely unrelated news, was shot on Sunday!) and others represented more than a gimmicky name, they represented an ethos.  An ethos mandating that they would run and substitute and run some more with the express purpose of ramming the ball down your throat until you got so tired from the harassing and pressing and constant stream of 6’5 defenders hawking you all over the court, that you simply succumbed to their collective will and gave it up.  They could make excellent teams look downright silly when the 40MoH avalanche gained momentum – ask Richard Williams (Feb. 20, 1993 – Arkansas 115, Mississippi St. 58) or Norm Stewart (Dec. 2, 1993 – Arkansas 120, Missouri 68) about that.  In those days, Arkansas basketball was absolutely must-watch tv for fans because if you watched Frasier instead, you might miss a display of Al Dillard 35-foot bombs and Big Nasty’s pirouettes into a timeout after a patented 11-0 run by the Hawgs.  These were also Nolan’s last great teams before he deteriorated into a paranoid and raving lunatic retired.   

Corliss Williamson 

This take-no-prisoners attitude derived as much from the Big Nasty as it did from the coach.  One look at his shaved dome and lips curled into a snarl as he sought to molest another rebound or eviscerate another defender in the post (using every inch of his 6’7 frame) was all you needed to see that this guy meant business.  When a bucket was needed (he was a career 58% shooter), the ball would enter into his surehanded mitts, who, for those short on memory, had the touch and agility of Glen “Big Baby” Davis with a far greater passion and understanding of the game (this is one case where given nicknames seem appropriate).  We’ll never forget how he utterly abused the much-taller, longer and athletic Rasheed Wallace in the second half (19 of his game-high 21 pts) of the 1995 national semifinals, leading the Hawgs from seven down at halftime to a seven-point victory.  It was the kind of performance that separates champions from pretenders at that level, and Big Nasty backed down to nobody. 

In three seasons at Arkansas, Corliss and friends won the national championship in 1994 and lost to the eventual national champions the other two years (1993 – lost to UNC in OT; 1995 – lost to UCLA in the title game).    They went 85-19 including a sparkling 13-2 NCAA record during this period.  Big Nasty was the team leader and best player, averaging 19 ppg and 7 rpg in just under 30 minutes.  He was drafted in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft, and re-focused his game on the perimeter to utilize his stature and quickness over the next several years.  He ultimately played twelve seasons in the L, garnering a reputation as a great locker-room presence, and earning Sixth Man of the Year in 2002 plus an NBA title with the Pistons in 2004.  We’re not completely sure, but we think he is one of only three players so far who won NCAA titles in the 1990s and later won an NBA title (Rip Hamilton – UConn (99), Pistons (04) and Nazr Mohammed – UK (96, 98), Spurs (05)).

Welcome back to the college game, Big Nasty.  We wish you well.   

Update:  Always a nice guy off the court, we found this clip of Big Nasty playing along with the interviewer (and rockin’ the fly Jesus shirt) at a charity bowling tournament.   One question – who is the white guy and who is the black guy here?

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