Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame

In 2007, OrangeHoops inducted its charter class into the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame: Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Vic Hanson, and Pearl Washington. In 2008 Billy Owens was added to that list, bringing the total to 6. Another year has passed, and now it is time for the 2009 inductee.

I won’t bother you with all the rules for eligibility (you can catch up on them here). 2009 does have six new eligible candidates (using the fifteen year rule): Adrian Autry, Scott McCorkle, Charlie Lockwood, Jason Gluck, Kris Aaron, and Mike Begovich. None, based on their current resumes, would warrant consideration for this year’s vote, and Autry was the only starter among the bunch.

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

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.

Lew Andreas coached Syracuse basketball for 27 seasons, including the 19-1 1925-1926 squad that was awarded the Helms Foundation National Championship. He had a career record of 358-134, and he was the Syracuse Athletic Director for 28 years (1937-1964).

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.

Tough choices again this year. However, the 2009 Orange Hoops Hall of Fame inductee is Billy 'The Bullet' Gabor.

Gabor came to Syracuse in the midst of World War II, during the 1942-1943 season. Because of the war, freshman were allowed to start on the varsity. Gabor would quickly earn a starting berth on the team, and would lead the Orangemen in scoring with 12.1 ppg. He would set the Syracuse single game scoring mark of 28 points on Feb 24, 1943 versus West Virginia, breaking the school record set by Paul Kartluke (Bob Shaddock would break Gabor’s record three days later with 33 points against Colgate).

Gabor would miss the last game of the season as he was called into active service for the military. He would serve in the war as a bombardier for the U.S. Army Air Corps.

After the war, Gabor returned to Syracuse for the 1945-1946 season, and would lead the Orangemen to their first postseason action ever, with a 23-4 record, and an NIT berth. Gabor would lead the Orangemen in scoring, averaging 15.2 ppg, and would again break the school single game scoring record with 36 points against Oswego on December 8, 1945.

Gabor was known as ‘The Bullet’ for he was exceptionally fast on the court. He would again lead the Orangemen in scoring his junior and senior seasons. He would finish his career as Syracuse’s all time leading scorer with 1,344 points, a mark that would stand for 18 seasons until Dave Bing broke it I 1966. Gabor was the first Orangeman to score 400 points in a season, was named an All-American twice, and scored 30+ points in a game 5x.

He was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA, and would make the NBA All Rookie team in 1949. In 1953 he made the NBA All-Star team, and in 1955 he helped the Nationals win the NBA Championshp. Gabor would retire from the NBA after that season.

His uniform #17 was retired by Syracuse in February 2009.

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