Thursday, September 18, 2014

Orange Hoops Hall of Fame 2014

In 2007, OrangeHoops inducted its charter class into the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame: Dave BingDerrick ColemanSherman DouglasVic Hanson, and Pearl Washington. The next six years saw the addition of Billy Owens (2008), Billy Gabor (2009), Lawrence Moten (2010), Louis Orr (2011), Roosevelt Bouie (2011)  John Wallace (2012), and Rony Seikaly.  So the list now stands at 12. Another year has passed, and now it is time for the 2014 inductee.

I established my rules for the OrangeHoops Hall of Fame back in 2007 and you can catch up on them here. 2014 does have four new eligible candidates (using the fifteen year rule): Elvir Ovcina, Josh Watson, Eric Williams, and Malik Campbell.

Elvir Ovcina was a four year player for Syracuse, primarily as a backup center and forward.  He was a decent short range perimeter shooter, but fancied himself as a three point shooter.  Unfortunately, he wasn't as he hit only 37 of 153 attempts for a 24.2%. He also struggled at the free throw line making 53% of his shots.

Josh Watson was a walk-on his senior year. He was a big man, and was primarily used to help Syracuse's big men have a big body to practice against.  Watson's only game was on senior night.

Erik Williams was a highly recruited forward.  He did not get much playing time his freshman season; he was a starter the beginning of his sophomore year, and showed he was a strong rebounder.  However, Damone Brown would outplay him and replace him before the Big East season began, and Williams would transfer to UMass.  Williams was never more than a reserve there.

Malik Campbell was a valuable receiver on the Orangemen football team for three seasons.  He was a reserve on the basketball floor scoring 66 points in his two seasons.

None of the new eligible candidates from 1998-1999 would make my list of top 10 eligible candidates.

I think this year’s viable top 10 candidates come down to the following, listed chronologically: Lew CastleJoe SchwarzerLew Andreas, Ev KatzVinnie Cohen, Jon Cincebox, Jimmy Lee, Rudy Hackett, Leo Rautins, and Stephen Thompson.

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.

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).

Katz was part of the famed Reindeer Five at Syracuse, that went 45-10 their three years together a Syracuse. Katz was very speedy and one of the early pioneers of the one handed set shot.

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.

Cincebox was on the best rebounders in Syracuse history (in an era when rebounding numbers were admittedly high).  He helped Syracuse to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1956-1957, as the dominant big man for the Orangemen.

Lee was a clutch shooter with terrific perimeter range, and outstanding free throw shooting ability. He was able to use his shooting ability to set himself up as a solid passer. Lee's 18 foot jumper with five seconds remaining led the Orangemen to beat heavily favored North Carolina, as the Orangemen eventually moved on to their first NCAA Final Four. Lee would end up making the All-Tournament team for his outstanding performances.

Rautins was a terrific ball-handling forward with a nice shooting touch, solid rebounding and scoring skills. He is most well known for his game winning tip in basket to win the Big East Championship in triple overtime against Villanova in 1981.  Rautins also recorded two triple-doubles in Big East action.

Thompson was an explosive swingman, with incredible quickness and vertical leap, and excellent defensive skills. He was extremely adept at playing above the basket though he was only about 6'2". He teamed with Sherman Douglas to perfect the alley-oop basket.  Thompson was an extremely proficient scorer, despite the fact he was a terrible perimeter shooter.  

All are worthy players, and tough selections to make.  I designed my selection rules to make it tough; the Hall of Fame should be the 'best of the best', and I would rather have a line of worthy players outside the Hall of Fame, than cheapen it by having lessor players included.

My selection for 2014 is Vinnie Cohen.  Cohen was the first true African American superstar basketball player for Syracuse. Cohen and his classmate Jim Brown were the individuals who helped integrate Syracuse sports at the high levels.

Cohen was an explosive leaper and quick to the basket.  He was only 6'1", but played forward. Cohen would average 24.2 points a game his senior season, becoming the first Orangemen to break the 20 ppg barrier. He would lead the Orangemen into the NCAA tournament. Syracuse played #1 North Carolina in
the Elite Eight.  Cohen would score 26 points to lead the Orangemen; it would not be enough as the Tar Heels were much bigger and stronger off the boards.

Cohen was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals to play in the NBA, but turned down the opportunity to pursue his law degree.

Congratulations to Vinnie Cohen, the 2014 Inductee into the Orange Hoops Hall of Fame.