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.

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