Monday, March 19, 2007

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.


Blogger Jesus' Son said...

I'm not sure if he's a diruptor, but maybe a disruptor, Ben Gordon.

March 20, 2007 at 12:45 AM  
Blogger Runs With Two Horses said...

They really benefited from strong supporting casts, but I would put both Raymond Felton and Kirk Heinrich in the latter category. Felton got the ring, but the up-tempo loving Roy Williams said that Heinrich was able to play the game faster than any point guard he's every coached. It might have just seemed faster because nobody expected that goofy looking kid to get up the court without tripping over his feet.

March 20, 2007 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Jumping Bull said...

Damon Bailey for category one. I know Natty has an unnatural hatred for Bailey, but if Greg Graham was Calbert Cheaney's Scottie Pippen, Bailey was the Steve Kerr. Also, I think it was hard to realize just how much of a floor general Deron Williams was with the ridiculous guards that Illinois team had, but watching him run things in Utah is heavenly.

March 20, 2007 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Runs With Two Horses said...

Jumping Bull alluded to the great guards around Williams at Illinois, which reminded me that Dee Brown has to be mentioned as one of the greatest Diruptors of Tempo. The "One Man Fast Break" was also tricked out with all sorts of fashion accessories. He reminded me of a modern version of Motorboat McElroy who played for Central Connecticut State University back in the late 60's.

March 20, 2007 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

I think B.J. McKie (South Carolina) has to be mentioned in the first category. He played both the 1 and the 2 in college, but would usually bring the ball up the court and create a shot for himself. He was able to dominate other point guards with a mixture of speed, size, and athletic ability. This guy invented the "Joe Crawford jump as high as you can on every jump shot" style that we have all come to love/loathe. His career averages were 17.2 pts, 3.1 ast, 3.5 rebs, and 32.7 minutes a game. He averaged over 30 minutes a game all four years, shot over 40% from three his sophomore and junior years, and averaged at least 15 pts. a game all four years. The guy was a stud, though his game never transitioned to the NBA.

March 20, 2007 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Natty Bumpo said...

Thanks for the typo catch, Jesus' Son. Of all these nominations, I find Kirk Hinrich the most compelling. Ben Gordon and B.J. McKie were very good college players, but I never thought either to be dominant. As for Damon Bailey, you can have your Steve Kerr comparison, and, for that reason alone, he will never be included on a most dominant college basketball players list. I almost included Dee Brown as well.

March 20, 2007 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

Ben Gordon shouldn't have been mentioned. His thriving game in the NBA demonstrates his lack of dominance in college. He never dictated games because of the amazing big men UCONN pounded it into.

I still want to push for the inclusion of McKie. His teams were never that great, or good for that matter, but he dictated the flow of games and forced teams to play his style. He had little to no help and faced a loaded SEC during his four years, which explains the lack of wins. He was Tre Kelly, but a lot lot better. I'm not saying Tre Kelly was dominant or anything better than an average player on a horrible team this year, but you have to admit that every team that played South Carolina this year played at his tempo.

March 20, 2007 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Leonard Peltier said...

In reference to your shameless promotion of Mr. Rose, I say MJ belongs in all 8 categories. Thank you.

March 20, 2007 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

As to Mr. Rose, everyone should type in Jalen Rose on youtube and watch some of the clips of him on the Best Damn Sports Show Period. In one clip he and Chris Webber are both on the show and it is great because they tell old stories from highschool and Michigan. There is also a clip of Jalen at the Heat's celebration last year that is really good.

March 20, 2007 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Jesus' Son said...

I don't see TMonk can argue McKie and so quickly dismiss Gordon. Gordon could be nominated in either of these categories. Granted, he was surrounded by an excellent team, but he still put up great numbers throughout his college career. Gordon avg. 12.6 as a freshman, 19.5 as a sophomore, and 18.5 as a junior. Also, during his junior season he avg. 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He hit a record 104 3's that year. He also lead the tournament avg. 21.2 a game while leading the Huskies to the national championship. He played with energy, he has his own energy drink for christ's sake. Finally, unlike McKie, his game did transfer to the NBA.

March 20, 2007 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

Apparently Jesus' Son was learned in T.Monk's Grammar and English Usage School for Idiots. Jesus' Son has yet to make an argument that puts Gordon into either one of these categories. He was a pure 2-guard that shot the ball well. He was and still is a very bad defender. He's not unusually quick or strong. He lacked post moves and relied mostly on the three ball. Good, yes. Dominant dictator or disrupter, no. As Natty would say, energy drinks and high scoring does not a dictator of pace make.

March 20, 2007 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Jumping Bull said...

Didn't Yoda say that? Also, in the spirit of making another dumb nomination just to ruffle Natty's feathers, I submit Khalid El-Amin.

March 20, 2007 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Codename Curveball said...

How can we possibly forget to mention Tamika Catchings? Also, who can possibly forget that Candace Parker actually had TWO dunks in one game.

March 21, 2007 at 12:29 AM  

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