Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breaking that Glass Ceiling

When Mike Jones played his first basketball game for Syracuse back in November 2006, he become the first player named Jones to play basketball for the Orangemen. Though his stay at Syracuse was short lived as he quit Syracuse at the December break, Mike Jones seems to have broken the name barrier. Two season’s later, Mookie Jones joins the Orangemen (and I’m hoping will have a much longer stay on the Hill).

There is a strange trend on Syracuse’s basketball team this year, regarding the players names. The Orangemen do have an Ongenaet and an Onuaku on the roster to confuse some of the national broadcasters. A Devendorf, Jardine, and Presutti to spice things up.

But the rest of the roster is about as commonplace in regards to last names as you can get:


The Orange have two legacy names in Rautins (Andy son of Leo) and Drew (Kevin son of Bill), making them common in the Orange world.

For those counting at home, in this history of Syracuse basketball there have been three Jacksons, three Thomases, three Johnsons, three Harrises, two Flynns, one Joseph, six Williams, two Jones, two Drews, two Rautins, one Ongenaet, one Onuaku, one Devendorf, one Jardine, and one Presutti.

The Williams (DeShaun, Eric, Jimmy, Mike, Sean, and ?) lead the way, with the Starks (John, Lou, Lou, Mike and Pat) and Lees (Charlie, Jimmy, David, Matt, and Mike) right behind with five.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2008 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame Inductee

In 2007, OrangeHoops inducted its charter class into the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame: Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Vic Hanson, and Pearl Washington. A year has passed, and now it is time for the 2008 inductee. I won’t bother you with all the rules for eligibility (you can catch up on them here).

2008 does have 5 new eligible candidates: Mike Hopkins, Conrad MacRae, Glenn Sekunda, Dave Siock, and Michael Edwards. None, based on their current resumes, would warrant consideration for this year’s vote.

I think this year’s viable top candidates come down to the following seven, listed chronologically: Lew Castle, Joe Schwarzer, Billy Gabor, Vinnie Cohen, Roosevelt Bouie, Rony Seikaly and Billy Owens.

Castle was a two time All-American at Syracuse, and was captain and leading scorer of Syracuse’s only undefeated team, the 1913-1914 squad that went 12-0.

Schwarzer was a two time All-American, and was captain and leading scorer of the 1917-1918 squad that went 16-1 and was retroactively named the National Champions by the Helms Foundation.

Gabor was a two time All-American, was a prolific scorer, becoming the first Syracuse player to score 1,000 points and led Syracuse to their first post-season tournament in 1945-1946 with the NIT Tournament.

Cohen was an All-American, the first Syracuse player to average 20+ points a game in a season, and led the team to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1956-1957.

Bouie was a two time All-American, a standout defensive player who led Syracuse to a 100-18 record in his four years.

Seikaly was an All-American, a standout defensive player whose outstanding play in the 1987 NCAA tournament took Syracuse to the brink of its first tournament championship.

Owens was a two time All-American, an outstanding all around player who carried Syracuse to a Big East regular season championship in 1990-1991 and three NCAA tournaments.

Strong arguments could be made for each player. However, the 2008 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame inductee is Billy Owens.

Owens came to Syracuse as an outstanding all-around player having won four basketball state championships in Pennsylvania. His unselfish play helped him easily fit into the loaded Syracuse team his freshman year, alongside stars Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman and Stephen Thompson. Despite deferring to the upper classmen, Owens still managed 13 points a game that season and 6.9 rebounds.

With the graduation of Douglas, Owens would take on a more prominent role with the team his sophomore season, leading the team in scoring with 18.2 points a game. Owens helped take the pressure off of freshman point guard Michael Edwards, and much of the offense was funneled through Owens, who had 4.6 assists to go with his leading scoring and 8.4 rebounds a game.

Syracuse lost both Thompson and Douglas, and Owens would be the central player for Syracuse his junior season. He would not disappoint anyone with 23.2 points a game, becoming the first player under coach Jim Boeheim to score 20+ points a game. He added 11.6 rebounds a game and 3.5 assists. Owens carried the Syracuse team for most the season, allowing classmate Dave Johnson to be open and to blossom as a scoring threat. Syracuse would finish the regular season at 26-4, ranked #6 in the country, and still impressed the NCAA committee enough to get a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, despite a huge upset loss in the first round of the Big East tournament. Unfortunately, Owens and the Orangemen were snake bitten, as they were upset by Richmond in the first round of the tournament.

Owens would be the third pick in the 1991 NBA draft, and would play 10 seasons, though injuries his first couple of seasons would hamper him throughout his NBA career.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

2000 Point Club

How difficult is it to score 2,000 career points in collegiate basketball? Statistically speaking, it's very difficult. Of the nearly 700 athletes who have played basketball for the Syracuse Orangemen, only six have accomplished it, or about 0.9%.

Those six are familiar to all Syracuse fans: Lawrence Moten, Derrick Coleman, John Wallace, Gerry McNamara, Hakim Warrick and Sherman Douglas.

There are a combination of factors that are needed to reach 2,000 career points.

First, you have to play enough games. Dave Bing averaged 24.8 points a game for his career, yet he only played in 76 games. Teams only played about 25 games a year in Bing’s era, and more importantly, freshman could not play, so he had only three years of eligibility.

I think there are 5 players at Syracuse who didn’t play four years of varsity basketball, and I think would have scored 2,000 points with the extra season(s). Bing only needed 117 points from a freshman season, and barring injury, he clearly would have scored that many.

Billy Owens skipped his senior season, where he needed only 160 points to scored 2,000. Again, barring injury, Owens would have easily broken that barrier.

Pearl Washington needed 516 more points, when he skipped his senior season. He was the ‘go to’ guy on offense, and scored 554 points his junior season, so its only natural to assume that barring any minor injuries, he would’ve progressed and gotten to 2,000 points.

Carmelo Anthony, if he could have stayed through his junior season, likely would have reached 2,000 points during that season. He scored 778 points his freshman season, and barring injury, seems a lock to have done it. Of course, Melo was never going to stay for three seasons. Two possibly (the championship nixed that), but three was never going to happen.

Donte’ Greene, like Anthony, easily would have scored 2000+ points if he had stayed. In Greene’s case, four years may have been necessary. But with 620 points his freshman year, barring injury, he would have accomplished the feat. Then again, Greene was never staying four seasons, and anything more than two was very unlikely.

The extra season would not have helped all the guys barred from playing their freshman year. Dennis DuVal averaged 18.6 points a game for his career, and needed ‘only’ 496 points in a freshman season to get to 2,000. But considering DuVal only had 442 points his sophomore season, its logical to assume he would not have gotten the necessary points. Vinnie Cohen and Bill Smith, also big time scorers, also would never have scored enough points as a freshman to reach that level.

The second factor important to reaching 2,000 points is to be a prominent scorer early in your career. The number of games alone won’t get you there. Ask Craig Forth, who started all of the 136 games of his career, and did not even break 1,000 points (643 total to be exact). Even dominant scorers like Stephen Thompson, Rony Seikaly, and Erich Santifer played in several games, but they did not put up big enough numbers early in their career to catch up to the level at the end.

Now here’s the thing I find most interesting about the six players who did all score 2,000 points. They are grouped into pairs of three, where each pair spent the majority of their careers together (three seasons overlapping in each case): Douglas and Coleman, Moten and Wallace, and Warrick and McNamara.

Douglas and Coleman took Jim Boeheim to his first national championship game, and gave Syracuse three exciting years as one of the top teams in the country. They came within a basket of winning the national championship in 1987, and would go 87-24 during their three seasons together. Their Big East action would see them go 33-15, with the Big East regular season title in 1987, and the Big East Tournament title in 1988. Considering that Stephen Thompson, Rony Seikaly, and Billy Owens all came close to 2,000 points, and this era clearly had the best collection of Syracuse players ever.

Moten and Wallace played together from 1993-1995. This era started with Syracuse being banned from post season play for recruiting violations, and this duo helped keep the Syracuse program from dying, and actually resurrected it back to prominence (Wallace would lead the Orange to the championship game the year after Moten left). The Orangemen went 63-26 during their time together, 35-19 in Big East play.

The final duo was McNamara and Warrick. Of course, this duo was highly recognizable for their significant contributions in the 2003 National Championship game. GMac had his 6 three point shots in the first half to give Syracuse a big first half lead, and Hak sealed the deal with the block that will remain in Orange Fans memories forever. The duo would go 80-20 in their career, 45-11 in Big East action, including a Big East Championship in 2005. Of course, they had Melo in 2003, and he was the key player on the championship team. However, as I have always contended, Melo alone did not win that team. Having a couple of players talented enough to score 2,000 career points on that same roster was another key component.

Of the current team, there are three players on track for 2,000 career points. Eric Devendorf is over half way there with two more years to go. Jonny Flynn only needs to duplicate his freshman effort each season for four years to get to the mark. Paul Harris would need to step up his pace, but with 808 points after two years, he would have to average 596 points for two seasons… not unreasonable. Of course, getting all these seasons from these players may be unlikely. But you never know. And it does seem that the members of the 2000 club come in pairs.