I just rolled through my opening round matchup against a very good Murawa squad.
Not many people have beaten John Wooden (DO NOT ASK DIGGER PHELPS ABOUT THIS or you’re liable to get enough highlighter to get four engineering, three pre-med, and eight law students through college) but Team PacHoops handled this group who at least had their socks on just right.
The Thunder kids (Westbrook and Harden) still couldn’t handle the likes of an Arizona backcourt. Ok, ok so those two were a combined 9-0 against the ‘Cats but Bibby and Dickerson flashed their rings while the Stoudamire family smoked them out rained threes and ran circles around beard-o and Sir-Shoots-a-lot. Jason Terry couldn’t crack the starting roster while up against Bibby and Dickerson and this time he couldn’t crack the lane with them locking down. The game was never close so Tyus Edney never had a chance to pull-a-Minnesota and was rendered irrelevant.
If you ask me, when the draft was over, I had compiled the most complete team. Amongst the eight total fantasy squads mine has it all: a Hall of Fame coach, conference POYs galore, NCAA Champions, lottery picks, you name it Team PacHoops has got it. It’s a group that could beat any team whether they wanted to run, slow it down, zone, press, whatever. Buckets for days and defensive disruption for eons.
And so now it begins. The first round of the Pac-12 Fantasy Draft voting has begun and my squad has earned the two-seed and the chance to tip off against Andrew Murawa’s group (the seven-seed).
A chicken with its head cut off. That’s how we describe things that run amuck and things that don’t work right. You can piece together the best talents around for a team but without some direction, sans leadership, short of guidance they become, well, a chicken with its head cut off.
And so I set out to find such a leader. A man with a track record of success who could sew a head on this chicken-o-talent. My man:
Ralph Miller, Oregon State, 1970-89
Home: Chanute, Kansas. Chanute HS.
Stats: 657-382 (.632)
Best Year: 25-5, 1981 Elite Eight
Brag sheet: 1981 and 1982 National COY, 1981 and 1989 Pac-10 COY, Basketball Hall of Fame
So here’s a guy who won everywhere he went. Coached at three schools over thirty-eight seasons and had just four losing seasons. But losses are irrelevant when talking Ralph Miller because he was a winner. People don’t name courts after losers and so they named a court after Ralph Miller. And here’s one of my favorite Ralphies (that’s what I call stats about coach): he won the conference COY award and then retired. Everyone loves it when the greats go out on top as Miller did and he’s owed daps for that. Don’t beat a dead horse. When it’s over, it’s over. Winner. Oh, and he’s in the Hall of Fame.
Who doesn’t like a good big man? He’s going to be endearingly awkward, certainly with all those moving parts there’s going to be elbows and knees abound; but when it comes together, when the knees spring upward and the elbow flexes to put a ball into the fourth row, then he’s just the man.
A difference maker because not everyone is seven-feet tall. You can’t teach that. I can run up and down the court dribbling four basketballs and purchase whatever the basketball equivalent of a Tom Emanski video is but I’ll always be whatever height I am.
This is a coveted position and so I chose wisely. Read on:
Todd MacCulloch, Washingotn, 1995-99
Home: Winnepeg, Canada. Shaftesburg HS.
Stats: 15ppg, 9rpg, .4apg
Best Year: 18ppg, 12rpg, 1apg
Brag sheet: Pinball Champion
Seven footers don’t come often and they don’t always average double doubles. They also don’t always win pinball championships and if you’re sick of me touting this fact about the big Canadian then you don’t get it. Did you see King of Kong? The world of arcade games is serious business and as competitive as it gets. Mac has won on multiple levels and multiple mediums and I wanted winners on my team. Got ’em.
Bison Dele (formerly Brian Williams), Arizona, 1988-91
Home: Fresno, California. Santa Monica Catholic HS.
Stats: 12ppg, 7rpg, .5 apg
Best Year: 14ppg, 8rpg, 1apg
Brag sheet: Marched to own drummer
Tragedy beset the cordial big who did as he pleased and retired to greener pastures but that unfortunate end to his life won’t define Bison Dele. He changed his name to Bison. He retired at the age of 30 and walked away from the rest of his five year deal worth upwards of $35M. Sometimes there are bigger fish to fry and I welcomed a little life perspective into the PacHoops lineup.
The biggest kids usually end up on a block and the smaller kids wind up being developed into point guards and off guards. A good portion of your basketball career is defined by what your momma gave you.
But what if mom gave you the size of a big and the moves of a guard? What if you were, I dunno, the complete package?
That’s what I was looking for when I picked my forwards. Allow me to tell you about it.
Elliott, O’Bannon, Mills, Abdur-Rahim
Sean Elliot, Arizona, 1985-89
Home: Tucson, Arizona. Cholla HS
Stats: 19ppg, 6rpg, 3apg
Best Year: 22ppg, 7rpg, 4apg
Brag Sheet: 1988 and 1989 Pac-10 POY, 1989 Wooden Award Winner, 3rd pick in 1989 NBA Draft
You always hear about how keeping local talent is imperative to a program’s success and it is. Never has it meant more to a program than Sean Elliott staying in Tucson to play for Lute Olson. The greatest prep player ever out of Tucson is arguably the greatest player ever to come out of the UofA. Oh, and he’s also the first major athlete to ever return to action following a kidney transplant. He literally could do it all: score, defend, board, and outlast his own career trajectory. Gamer.
Ed O’Bannon, UCLA, 1991-95
Home: Los Angeles, California. Artesia HS
Stats: 16ppg, 7rpg, 2apg
Best Year: 20ppg, 8rpg, 3apg
Brag Sheet: 1995 Pac-10 POY, 1995 Wooden Award Winner, 1995 NCAA Champion, 9th pick in the 1995 NBA Draft
When you play for the most storied program in college basketball history where there are ten championship banners hanging from the rafters of your home gym and when it’s been twenty years since the last banner was hung you need a hero. Enter: Ed O’Bannon. But the long forward not only took on the ghosts of Bruins past in earning his national title, he’s also come to battle the NCAA. He filed a lawsuit claiming the governing body everyone loves to pick apart has been wrongfully profiting off the images of the players they “educate” even beyond their graduation into non-amateur status. Dude’s got a point. Trial is pending.
Chris Mills, Arizona, Arizona, 1990-93
Home: Los Angeles, California. Fairfax HS
Stats: 17ppg, 8rpg, 2apg
Best Year: 20ppg, 8rpg, 2apg
Brag Sheet: 1993 Pac-10 POY, 22nd Pick in the 1993 NBA Draft
Shareef Abdur-Rahim, California, 1995-96
Home: Murrietta, Georgia. Joseph Walker HS
Stats: 21ppg, 8rpg, 1apg
Best Year: only played one
Brag Sheet: 1996 Pac-10 POY, 3rd Pick in the 1996 NBA Draft
So here you have the only one and done on Team PacHoops and subsequently the first ever freshman POY in conference history. And did you know he also managed to maintain a 3.5 GPA at Cal? I coulda told you he was smart for moving from Georgia to the Bay Area but to put up those kinda number in the classroom just seals the deal. And now, in his current role as the Sacramento Kings assistant GM, I choose to believe he’s always the dissenting opinion on all player personnel decisions. My man.
The decision maker, the guy with the ball in his hand, the one who’s making critical plays at critical moments, those are the game changers. The ones who can – with equal skill – hit the big three or find the right guy to do such.
Guard play, perhaps above all else, determines championship caliber teams and the Pac-12 has been chock full of some greats. Run up and down some of the other rosters I’m competing against in this Fantasy Draft and you’re reminded that the Conference of Champions has produced Walt Hazzard, Gary Payton, and Jason Kidd. Woof.
But this draft wasn’t about scoring an individual. If that were the case we’d have handed this thing over to Andy over at Building the Dam once he picked Lew Alcindor. It was about compiling a squad and you’re about to be treated to the deepest guard corps. Ever.
Stoudamire, Bibby, Dickerson, Stoudamire
Damon Stoudamire, Arizona, 1991-95
Home: Portland, Oregon. Woodrow Wilson HS
Stats: 15 ppg, 4 rpg, 5 apg
Best Year: 22ppg, 4rpg, 7apg
Brag sheet: 1995 Pac-10 POY, 7th pick in 1995 NBA Draft
Mighty Mouse could utterly fill the tin. He was quicker than Wyatt Earp on the draw and just as tough. You kinda have to be if you’re going to be a sub-six foot lottery pick. And sure, he may have been a contributing member to the Jailblazers but you know what? After attending rehab and probably some long looks in the mirror, Stoudamire took a bet with columnist Jay Canzano that the sportswriter could piss test him whenever he wanted. So when Canzano showed up pre-game with a cup for Damon to fill, he did it and passed the test. THC free. I built this team on talent but some accountability certainly never hurt a contender either.
Mike Bibby, Arizona, 1996-98
Home: Phoenix, Arizona. Shadow Mountain HS
Stats: 15ppg, 3rpg, 5apg
Best Year: 17ppg, 3rpg, 6apg
Brag Sheet: 1998 Pac-10 POY, 1997 NCAA Champion, 2nd pick in 1998 NBA Draft
I’ll write a lot of brag-worthy things whilst waxing poetic about this team I’ve compiled but none holds more clout than “NCAA Champion.” Bibby hoisted the hardware and cut down the nets as a freshman. He then went on to earn POY honors on a team where he wasn’t even the leading scorer; a fact I don’t quite know what to do with but it probably means people thought pretty highly of his value to a basketball team. So I wanted him on my team.
Michael Dickerson, Arizona, 1994-98
Home: Kent, Washington. Federal Way HS
Stats: 14ppg, 4rpg, 2apg
Best Year: 19ppg, 5rpg, 2apg
Brag Sheet: 1997 NCAA Champion, 14th pick in the 1998 NBA Draft
Remember how I told you NCAA Champion was the most baller thing I could tell you about someone? Dickerson’s got that. He also just happens to be the same Cat (pun intended) who outscored the ’98 Pac-10 POY (Bibby) and who had the smoothest, most effortless game of any Wildcat. Ever. He may have spoke softly but when it came to putting the ball in the basket, he was real loud.
Salim Stoudamire, Arizona, 2001-05
Home: Portland, Oregon. Lake Oswego HS
Stats: 15ppg, 2rpg, 2apg
Best Year: 18ppg, 2rpg, 2apg
Brag Sheet: Better three point shooter than JJ Reddick
The cousin of my first guard selected (Damon), Salim is going to make any All-Time Favorite Wildcats list that I make and he probably should make yours too because of his Brag Sheet item. You’ll recall JJ-mania over the same four years Salim played and so you just had a visceral reaction when you read his name. Well know that in 2005, Salim shot greater than 50% from three-point land. Do you want to swallow the comparison? Ok, JJ’s best year was .421. Meh, solid, not hyperbole good. Salim.
The off-season hit and I’ve fallen in to a bit of hibernation. Frankly, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the hoops off-season seeing as how it’s summer and all that so I’ve taken full advantage. There’s also the fact that there’s effectively three things to discuss when no one is playing college basketball:
Recruiting – The future of the program is running up and down rinkadink gyms (or NBA player camps) and men who make millions of dollars a year will sit in said gyms and try to make teenagers wanted. We, on the other hand, scour for every bit of news on where these pimple faced athletes will someday take their talents and we’re left having to explain that our bad mood is because a 2015 kid from the other side of the country listed our school sixth and not first or second when he cut his list to twelve. Normal.
Current Roster – This makes a little more sense in the realm of relevant discussion topics. You’ve at least seen this group play and have a semblance of their strengths and weaknesses so there’s something tangible to discuss and you don’t have to talk kids in distant gyms. Of course as you delve into this subject, you expose yourself to discussion topic three…
Reminisce – Be it the failed jumper at the horn or conference championship that didn’t turn in to a tournament appearance or a late season run or a recently departed senior’s career there’s a lot left to think about when the arena goes dark. There always seems to be that moment in a season you can’t shake from your psyche, for better or worse.
Whichever of these conversations you prefer, we’re completely needing out because there really is nothing tangible going on (aside from a few verbal commitments). That’s alright. I’m a college hoops nerd and I’ll admit that.
And I’ve chose to assuage my hoops withdrawal via option three (although I incessantly refresh recruiting sites and scour for news on current rosters; say, does anyone know if Josh Smith hit the gym?).
I joined a Fantasy Draft run by the great minds at Rush the Court’s Pac-12 Microsite, Andrew Murawa and Connor Pelton. These fellas organized eight writers into the Pac-12 Fantasy Draft. The rules were simple: any player on any Pac-12 roster from any year was eligible to be drafted; each team had to have four guards, four forwards, two centers, and a coach. There were no trades and a lot of banter. Here’s what they had to say after Round One and here’s the rest of the draft.
Soon, Team PacHoops will make their debut on the microsite and I’ll be asking for your votes for the greatest Pac-12 Fantasy team ever compiled. I’ll walk you through my roster in the coming days but know that it’s great.
In the mean time, here are a few other things I’ve been up to:
The RTC guys had some questions about the state of Arizona hoops during their Arizona week. I answered them
Jim Basnight has a weekly radio show called “Talkin’ Hoops” that he graciously invited me on to, well, Talk Hoops
RTC had one more burning question about Mark Lyons’ forthcoming year at Arizona that I answered