Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dominant College Basketball Players--Big Dancers and Big Assholes

This is the third installment in a series of posts concerning the most dominant college basketball players in my viewing lifetime (1989-90 season to the present).

Category 5: Big Dancers

For this group, it’s not just about the tournament. Otherwise, Miles Simon would be on the top of the list. The players in this category had excellent careers. It’s just that their legacy/reputation has been (somewhat) exaggerated because of the way they went out. For some, this means that their play in the tourney was better than their play during the rest of their careers. For others, the tourney gave them a spotlight that they didn't have during the regular season, though they didn't necessarily play any better in the tourney. Either way, they were the darlings of March Madness

Sean May (North Carolina): It’s easy for people to remember May as the player that dominated the 2005 NCAA Tournament, but they would be forgetting two good, but uninspiring, years that May spent as an overweight and out-of-shape player limited in the number of effective minutes he was able to provide. His junior year was quite impressive, but the tournament is where he made his name. Maybe the best set of hands on any big man in college basketball history. Very nimble for a man of his size.

Antonio McDyess (Alabama): The epitome of the player who turns himself into a lottery pick by virtue of his play in the NCAA Tournament. The only player on this list who didn't have an undeniably excellent non-tourney career. McDyees seemingly came out of nowhere during the 1995 Tournament, but he’d actually put together a pretty (physically) dominating season leading up to the dance. But in March, McDyess was a revelation. A man among boys, Dice’s chiseled frame and hard-nosed play tantalized NBA scouts and earned him a hefty payday as the number 2 overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.

Bryant Reeves (Oklahoma State): A skilled big man down low, Big Country was more dominating than Eric Montross. Montross had an excellent supporting cast, and I would argue that he wasn’t even the most important player on his national championship team. (I'd make the case for George Lynch.) Big Country, on the other hand, had a strong but not spectacular supporting cast. (However, Randy Rutherford was a very good college point guard). For those of you who don't buy my Big Country over Montross argument, consider the numbers. Country averaged 19.5 ppg as a sophomore, 21.0 as a junior, and 21.5 as a senior. Montross never even averaged 16ppg during his Tar Heel career. Country also had better rebounding numbers. Reeves’ Cowboys exceeded everyone’s expectations in March of 1995, and no one seemed to have an answer for Big Country. Unfortunately, his pro career was absolutely pathetic.

Dwyane Wade (Marquette): Contrary to popular belief, Wade was not a secret prior to the performance he put on against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, he’d spent the entire previous season quietly piling up points and garnering attention from NBA scouts. With his penchant for making the impossible look possible, it was the UK tourney game that made Wade a household name, at least in the Bluegrass. He put on a Jordanesque performance that even surpassed his regular season, and became a lottery pick the following June.

John Wallace (Syracuse): One of the most complete NCAA Tournament performances I’ve ever seen. Wallace willed his Syracuse teammates to the 1996 NCAA Championship against the powerhouse Kentucky Wildcats. While ‘Cuse would not win the championship, Wallace’s blend of post-up power and jump-shooting was something to behold. The consummate leader, Wallace put together an excellent career at Syracuse, but it wasn’t until the tourney that he really showed everyone how well-rounded his game was. I still believe he got screwed in the NBA. The Knicks were not a good situation for a “tweener” that needed some touches.

Category 6: Big Assholes

On some level, these guys were incredibly dominant. However, for the most part, these guys’ attitudes got in the way of their dominance. Still, when they were playing hard and their tempers weren’t getting the best of them, they changed games. Think Derrick Coleman.

Kenyon Martin (Cincinnati): Great shot blocker. Could run the floor with the little guys. There wasn’t a 4 or a 5 that could guard him. He had no offensive skills to speak of, but he was so athletic that he didn’t need any. One of the best finishers I’ve ever seen. While he played hard most of the time, it wasn’t hard for opponents to get under his skin. Never the level-headed one, his temper was his downfall. Might be the basketball equivalent of Kellen Winslow, Jr.

Rasheed Wallace (North Carolina): A game-altering shot blocker and all-around excellent defender, Wallace also had a considerable array of post moves for a college big man. Additionally, he could run the floor and was an excellent passer. As a collegian, Wallace’s outside shot wasn’t nearly as reliable as it became in the pros. However, he wasn’t quite the technical foul-prone idiot that he would become, either. When Sheed’s head was in the game and he was playing hard, there’s been no better. Unfortunately, Sheed’s short attention span seemed to get the better of him for considerable portions of games. He is the proud owner of the coolest tattoo in the history of the world. One of my all-time favorite college basketball players.

Your thoughts?


Blogger Runs With Two Horses said...

I know you aren't doing current players, but has there ever been a player that is as destined to go down in the Hall of Fame for each of these categories than Joakim Noah? His tournament performance last year was unbelievable, but his overall unlikeabilityness is simply unparalleled.

I'll go ahead and support your Big Country argument. I think the guy gets beat up too much for underachieving in the NBA, but he was really more injury-plagued than just a bad player. Plus, being the franchise player for the Grizz is pretty much a death wish.

The Kenyon Martin--Kellen Winslow Jr. comparison is dead on.

Going back to John Wallace's 1996 tournament, how about Dontae Jones from Mississippi State, in the same tournament? He certainly wasn't as dominant in the tourney as Wallace was that season, but he benefited as much as anyone.

Your love for the Fab Five has blinded you. All five of those fuckheads could make the asshole list. They rubbed their balls on the logo at midcourt at Michigan State, do they really have to do anything else?

In the same vein, those Arkansas teams from the mid-90's were replete with assholes. Corey Beck was their ringleader, and quite hate-worthy.

You would be hard pressed to find two bigger assholes than Sheed and K-Mart, though, so I still endorse your list.

March 7, 2007 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger cpburn2 said...

i could not disagree with your Kenyon Martin post. I think if you look back you will see that Kenyon may have been mean and intimidating but never an asshole to anyone. He also had an absolutely unbelievable season as a senior, completely dominating all aspects of the game like very few have. Just because he, unlike most college players found the weight room and showed emotion doesn't make him an asshole. In the pre durant era his stats are incredible. Over 3 blocks a game with 19pts and 10 rbs a game.

March 7, 2007 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Jesus' Son said...

I think when you consider guys who are unstoppable during the month of March, you have to remember Kentucky's favorite North Carolinian that did not draw much intrest from UNC or Duke, Bobby Perry. I mean if look at his stats from the entire year, he's only a role player. However, during the month of March he becomes nearly unstoppable. Last year he averaged 7.1 points and 3.9 rebounds. Then during the tournement, he scored 25 in the first round against UAB then had 20 and 7 against UConn.

Over the last couple weeks we have seen March Bobby once again. The first 5 months of the season showed mere glimpses of March Bobby that nearly cause me to have an ulser because of the stress he caused me. Then late February roles around and against Vandy he had 18, GA he had 22, Fl he had 20 pts. I think after this is a steady trend that shows the destruction and pain Bobby is going to bring to all teams in the SEC and NCAA tournements.

No, but seriously, does anyone remember last year after the UAB and the UConn games when Bobby Perry was mentioned in the same sentence as NBA draft? I think NBAdraft.net even listed him on their site somewhere in the second round, but probably only because they wanted to compare his picture to a barracuda.

March 7, 2007 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

Gregg Doyel just wrote a really stupid article on CBS sportsline about how manipulative Coach K is and how he has taken all of the heat off of Gerald Henderson and put it on himself. Doyel claims that Coach K should be scorned and Gerald Henderson really didn't hit Hansbrough intentionally. But let me tell you this:

Henderson did purposely hit Hansbrough. Coach K is defending him because Coach K thought Hansbrough should have been hit. Coach K isn't putting the heat on himself, he's defending the image of his program and players which he knows has given him calls, helped in recruiting, and endorsements. Duke has been dirty, is dirty, and will be dirty until Cameron Indoor is burned down.

Runs, you and I really should have taken a shit on Krzewskiville when we had the chance.

March 7, 2007 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger SonDog said...

I don't know why this is the case, because I'm really indifferent when it comes to this guy, but here is my most vivid memory of Sheed Wallace in college: ACC Tourney, Wallace comes down on Joe Smith's foot (or Tim Duncan's foot -- it was one of those guys) and proceedes to cry... TO FUCKING CRY!!!!... and scream and flop around like a fish, generally acting like his ankle is shattered in 37 pieces.

He gets helped off the court, composes himself (which is a lot of work for Sheed), and re-enter the game after about 45 SECONDS!!! It seemed to be the most melodramatic response to a non-severe injury I've ever seen.

The details above are probably sketchy. I tried for 20 solid minutes to find it on youtube but I couldn't come up with it. Do you guys remember that or am I completely hallucinating?

March 7, 2007 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Runs With One Horse said...

This is in reference to the last post, but I like to keep it current. Have you all heard the Ron Artest 911 call? It's amazing. It might be the operator's first day.

March 7, 2007 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger Natty Bumpo said...

I haven't heard the 911 call...yet. Also, in response to Sondog's claim that Sheed's response to his "shattered" ankle was the most melodramatic response to a non-severe injury ever, I should point out that, while I don't remember that actually happening, I definitely don't doubt that he would do something like that. However, I think a number of readers of Awesome USA! can say they actually witnessed the most melodramatic response to a non-severe injury in the history of the world. A friend of ours in undergrad, who will remain nameless, "shattered" his ankle in a game of pick-up basketball. He was a drama student, so we probably shouldn't have been surprised. Not only did he cry out like he was being castrated in this impossible to describe, high-pitched, dog whistle-like scream, but, after he composed himself (if you can even call it that), he kept yelling, "I heard it pop! I heard it pop!" He was also crying. The game ended abruptly, as we didn't have an extra man to take his place. The next day we saw him on campus, as cheery as ever, not limping in the slightest, acting as if he hadn't ruined a perfectly good pick-up game the night before. The funny thing about the whole situation: when it happened, no one, and I mean no one, took it even the slightest bit seriously. Knowing glances were exchanged, as if to say, "what a douche bag." I may have laughed out loud. After he hobbled off the court and left the gym, we spent 15 minutes imitating the girlish screaming we had just endured.

March 7, 2007 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

When I read Sondog's post that is the first thing I thought of, Natty. I just remember all of us kind of saying to him, "So ... are you done? You can't play anymore?" really unconcerned about his injury, if you can call it that, and much more concerned with the pick-up game not being finished.

It is worth mentioning he would also make similar screams when he was slightly fouled, slipped on sweat and fell down, or someone else on his team hit a big shot to tie the game or put his team up by one.

March 8, 2007 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger Natty Bumpo said...

That's right. I had forgotten that he would scream like a little girl after big shots. That actually may have been the worst.

March 8, 2007 at 1:38 AM  
Blogger Codename Curveball said...

First off, Jesus' son, what's an ulser? Second, I was a fan of the Henderson foul and Coach K. I obtained the transcript of what Coach K and Roy Williams said to each other while the refs were discussing the proper course of action:
Williams: "Coach, don't you think that was a cheap shot?"
K: "Of course not."
Williams: "Yeah, you're right. You're the best. Good talk."

March 8, 2007 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Joe B. said...

Could someone please post on how crazy Pyscho T is going to be/look tomorrow while playing with a mask. I'd say it's 50/50 right now on whether or not he kills someone on the court.

March 8, 2007 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger the butler said...

I have to say I agree with curveball here. While I don't like to see a cheap shot that results in a serious injury, I did like seeing Tyler get his nose busted. I also have had sooooo much fun arguing that Hansbrough hit HIMSELF in the nose after getting his shot blocked BEFORE Henderson came in and hit Hansbrough in what to me looked like his jaw.

The way I see it, Hansbrough finally had a good reason to explain why he always has that surprised look on his face.

Oh yeah, the list. I support the Big Country inclusion as well. Nice call. One guy I remember hating because he was so good and didn't play for my team, and who might fit on the Tourney list - Tony Delk.

March 8, 2007 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Runs With Two Horses said...

I'm not sure about the veracity of this rumor, but word on the street is that Pyscho T is actually going to wear a goalie's hockey mask instead of the Rip Hamilton-style face guard. He'll also be equipped with a chainsaw when he's on the bench.

March 8, 2007 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Natty Bumpo said...

Much like Christian Laettner and Grant Hill, Tony Delk was too dominant, in my opinion, to be included in this category. All 3 will be discussed in a later post. A friend of mine who reads Awesome USA! argued that Antoine Walker was the most dominant UK tourney performer since 1989-90 and should have been included.

March 9, 2007 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger the butler said...

Dammit! Suspense will not survive in my presence.

Walker was awesome, but that team Kentucky had in '96 was so stacked I remember having trouble keeping up with all those studs. Delk, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Derek Anderson, Nazr Mohammed, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Turner...one of the top five college teams ever.

Why did Ron Mercer drop off the face of the planet, anyway?

Back in '96 I would have bet on him to become the best NBA player from that team.

March 9, 2007 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger SonDog said...

Mercer dropped off the face of the planet because he had an IQ lower than my Border Collie.

March 10, 2007 at 11:06 AM  

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