Dominant College Basketball Players--Dictators of Pace and Disruptors of Tempo
This is the 4th installment in a series of posts examining the most dominant college basketball players since the 1989-90 season. The 2 categories included in this post are dominated by guards that had a seemingly innate ability to impact the flow of the game. Additionally, all of these players were team leaders that seemed to be able to will their teams to victory.
Category 7: Dictators of Pace
Whether it was because of their leadership qualities, their personalities, or their playmaking skills, these point guards set the tone of nearly every game they played in. More then just dictating pace, these floor generals controlled the game.
Mateen Cleaves (Michigan State): Perhaps the ultimate floor general. Tracy Morgan was one heck of a point guard and had a knack for winning. He set the tone on both ends of the floor and made those around him better. He wasn’t the flashiest playmaker, but he directed the Spartan attack efficiently. Didn't make spectacular passes but great at finding the open man. Probably a little overrated.
Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph’s): That rare scoring guard who truly makes those around him better. An excellent passer with superb court vision, Nelson’s upper body strength allowed him to get into the paint and create scoring opportunities for teammates. His height had no effect on his ability to get to the basket. He had an incredible ability to impose his will on a game, and his intensity was infectious.
Jalen Rose (Michigan): The coolest college basketball player of all-time. Like Shane Battier, Rose dominated games by the sheer force of his personality (but in a much cooler way). The king of trash talk, Rose was the leader of the Fab Five. In fact, it was Rose, not Webber, that led the Fab Five in scoring during their freshman season. While he would spend the majority of his pro career hoisting up shots from the wing, he was an excellent college point guard. He excelled at leading the break and slashing to the basket. However, as a 6-8 point guard, he could also back his defender down to slow the game’s tempo.
Deron Williams (Illinois): Like Rose, Williams was a physically imposing point guard, equally adept at leading the break or posting his man up in the paint. Like Cleaves, he used his superior upper body strength to dominate weaker point guards at both ends of the floor. In fact, he was so good on the offensive end of the floor that he never received enough credit for being an excellent defender. Made spectacular passes look easy. Always seemed to be in complete control of the game.
Category 8: Disruptors of Tempo
Much like the dictators of pace category, this category is all about the speed of the game. However, rather than setting the pace like the point guards in the preceding category, the players in this category disrupted the pace of the game. They played at a speed all their own, namely at a pace that no one else could keep up with. When they weren’t exhausting those assigned to defend them, they were harassing their opponents on the defensive end. Most importantly, they were winners, as proven by their national championships. An alternative title for this group could have been “Energy Guys that Just Win,” but that didn’t really have much of a ring to it.
Juan Dixon (Maryland): One of the quickest guards in ACC history. Played in a different gear than everyone else. A solid shooter, excellent penetrator, and an excellent college defender, Dixon's greatest strength was his competitive nature. With the exception of Allen Iverson, he probably created the most one-man fastbreaks in the history of college basketball. While he did have an excellent supporting cast, Dixon was the main reason the Terps won the 2002 national championship.
Richard Hamilton (Connecticut): Like Dixon, Rip had an impressive supporting cast on his 1999 national championship team. Simply outworked the competition. One of the most underrated college basketball players within my viewing lifetime. A solid defender and underrated passer, Rip’s midrange game set him apart from his peers. Always seemed to do the little things needed to win games.
As always, I'm taking nominations.