Sunday, August 05, 2007

Votes Are In: Greatest Syracuse Lacrosse Player

The votes are in for the greatest Syracuse Lacrosse and Football players; I will cover them in separate articles. Admittedly, the results will be slightly skewed, since I will assume most readers of this blog are huge Syracuse basketball fans, and not necessarily big lacrosse or football fans.

Only 10 voters for the greatest Syracuse Lacrosse Player of All Time. The top 10 were:

1. Gary Gait
2. Mike Powell
3. Jim Brown
4. Casey Powell
5. Paul Gait
6. Ryan Powell
7. Dick Finley
8. Tom Marechek
9. Brad Kotz
10. Matt Palumb

No big surprises on this list. The top 3 were what I expected, though I was not positive that younger fans wouldn’t vote Mike Powell over Gary Gait. Take into account that I am not a lacrosse expert, I can say that I have never seen a better player than Gary Gait. The Air Gait move he pulled off in the NCAA Playoffs was truly unforgettable. I know one barometer I use for greatness is when I player accomplishes something so amazing, unpredictable, and unstoppable, that the sports governing body changes the rules to try to stop the player from using it again. The Air Gait move falls into that category.

Gary Gait appeared on all 10 ballots, with 5 firsts, 3 seconds, 1 third and 1 fourth.

Mike Powell appeared on all 10 ballots, with 3 firsts, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds.

Jim Brown appeared on 9 ballots, with 2 firsts, 1 second and 3 thirds. As Brown is in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, and is considered by many experts to be the greatest lacrosse player ever, I am curious how he was left off of one ballot.

Casey Powell appeared on all 10 ballots, with 4 thirds and 4 fourths.

Paul Gait appeared on all 10 ballots, with 2 seconds, and 2 fourths.

Ryan Powell appeared on 9 ballots, with his highest vote being for fifth.

Dick Finley appeared on only 6 ballots, with his highest vote being fourth. I read up a little on Finley, and apparently he was the first lacrosse player to routinely use trick moves (such as shots behind the back). He played back in the early 1960s, so I am guessing he was the forerunner to players like Gary Gait.

Tom Marechek appeared on 7 ballots, with his highest vote being for seventh.

Brad Kotz appeared on 6 ballots, with his highest vote being for eighth.

Matt Palumb finished out the top ten appearing on 3 ballots. His position on the poll was greatly enhanced by receiving a second place vote.

My guess is that experts on the Syracuse lacrosse program would likely choose Hall of Famer Oren Lyons over Matt Palumb. Lyons was an outstanding goalie in the Jim Brown era.

The Nelson brothers, Tim and Tom, were big news on campus in the early 1980s. However, Tim only received 3 votes, and Tom none. They, along with Brad Kotz, were responsible for creating the strong Syracuse teams that were the forerunner to the Gait era.

Several Syracuse players in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame received no votes: Fred Fitch, Bill Fuller, Victor Jenkins, Stewart Lindsay, Irv Lydecker, Bill Ritch, Lou Robbins, Vic Ross, Roy Simmons Sr, Roy Simmons Jr, and Glenn Thiel. Hall of Famer Pat McCabe received 2 votes. I am not criticizing anyone for leaving these players off their vote, for a two reasons:

I had never heard of many of these men before, either
Many of the players in the top 10 will eventually be a Hall of Famer. They have not yet met the time eligibility requirements.

The poll will remain open at Rankopedia, so if you want to continue to vote, feel free.


JayB said...

I can't speak for everyone, but my belief is that Jim Brown was the greatest ATHLETE to play lax, while Gary Gait was/is the most SKILLED, SUCCESSFUL and INNOVATIVE individual in the game. Jim was a beast and mostly unstoppable (as he was in football), but Gary revolutionized the sport and continues to succeed at every level of lacrosse: nll (coach & player) plus wla box, mll (as coach and player concurrently), coach & player of world champion canadian field team, womens ncaa coaching.... If Jim would have stuck with lax, who knows....

OrangeRay said...

I know I've seen articles where Jim Brown says that lacrosse was his favorite game of all.

Adam Gerard said...

This now makes me wonder even more why Mike Powell was #2 on this Sports Illustrated list, yet Gary Gait wasn't even on the dang thing.