The following is the second in a series of guest columns written by John Pudner ('88).
Marquette's 100 Greatest Players
By John Pudner
In the early 1990s, I was writing a column in the New York Post opposite baseball statistical guru Bill James. I would crunch numbers to determine the best pitchers one week, then he would crunch numbers and rank the top everyday players the next. Then Bill James wrote a historical ranking of baseball players over the ages and he made a point in the book that is very pertinent to these rankings.
In addition to crunching statistics (my spreadsheet of 642 players is now up to 61 columns of info on each), you need to focus on what the people evaluating them AT THE TIME THEY PLAYED thought of them. This is the reason for the second ranking that appears by each player – the dominance ranking.
At the time the player played, did people view them as a dominant player? Did NBA scouts think the player was dominant enough to use a draft pick on him? If so, how high a pick? Did the coaches and writers of the time think the player was dominant enough to name him as an All-American? As an all-conference player (Midwestern Collegiate 90-91, Great Midwest 92-95, Conference USA 96-05, Big East 06-present), or before Marquette joined a conference as an All-Catholic player or All-Independent player?
I was able to identify 36 players were so dominant that the writers or coaches picked them as All-Conference or All-American after at least one season. One of these players, Robert Jackson, was viewed as dominant during his ONLY season at Marquette, being named 2nd team All-Conference USA in 1994. All he did in that one year was to lead the team in rebounding (7.5 rpg) and finish second in scoring (15.4 ppg) to some guy named Dwyane Wade. He gave the school it’s first dominant big man since the 1994 squad, giving Diener and Wade the inside presence they needed to go to the Final Four.
I have 226 other 1-year players on my spreadsheet of all-time MU players, and Jackson is the only one in the top 250 – he comes in as the 52nd best player in MU history. All Marquette fans should be very thankful that Robert chose to come back home to Milwaukee for his final year – I wish he could have put up all of his 1,327 points and 756 rebounds at Marquette, but he was here for the most important year.
The only player on this list younger than Jackson is one of the current three superguards, Wesley Matthews. Matthews could shoot much higher than his current #66 ranking by the end of his MU career. He has already piled up stats as a guard who can not only score but rebound, and is one of only 10 players in MU history to average at least 1.5 steals per game. Obviously if he follows his father into the NBA, or even if the team just makes at least an Elite 16 run this year, he will move way up the list.
One other reason we can’t purely rely on statistics is that there were no stats kept on blocked shots, assists and steals until very recently, and even rebounds were not recorded until the 1950s. If you just looked at statistics, you couldn’t put anyone who played below 1950 on the Top 100 list. At a time when teams rarely scored 30 points in a game, averaging 10 points a game helped your team as much as scoring 20 points a game today.
However, when you realize the 1934 team was good enough to go 14-3, and that Ed Mullen was not only named an All-American BUT also played 5 years in the pros, you realize he ranks in the top 50. Also, I do take some educated guesses at what the other stats would have been. After 1950 this is often a matter of running formulas based on typical ratios of assists to steals, and blocked shots to rebounds, etc. However, in other cases I just make a judgment call based on accounts on the player – such as Gene Ronzani, another 1930s star, who was an All-American football player, averaged double figures and according to the Marquette Tribune of the time, “Ronzani particularly had a rollicking time of it, as he roamed all over the floor, scrambling anyone in his path and usually coming up with the ball in the wildest sort of melee.” I assume he was pretty good rebounder, and I gave him 1.5 steals per game based on that description. He ranks as the 69th greatest MU player.
I wish there was someway to put our guards today with the incredible front lines from the 1950s, including the members of the 1959 team on this list. Just a few years after Terry Rand led the biggest front line to the 1955 Elite 8, Walt Mangham (#57) was joined by freshman future All-American Don Kojis to take the 1959 team back with a 23-6 record. Mangham and Kojis were called the “Kangaroo Kids,” as Mangham was the national high jump champion and the two are still 4th and 1st place all-time on MUs rebounding list.
Senior Mike Moran (#51 on this list) was the third member of one of the best frontlines the country has ever seen, as he dropped in 18.1 ppg with an unstoppable left handed hook shot – the third straight year he led the team in scoring. James McCoy (#67) added a big outside threat from the shooting guard spot. Marquette was ranked #15 at the end of the year by the UPI. After destroying Bowling Green in the opening round of the tourney they finally lost 74-69 to the same opponent we drew last year, the #3 ranked Michigan State Spartans.
A total of 54 Marquette players have been drafted by or played in the NBA, a few more have been stars in Europe or the CBA. This list is not quite as selective as the All-Conference list, but obviously it is a similar honor as being drafted and/or playing in the NBA indicates scouts who make their living on identifying the most dominance players in the country chose this player.
In between the most current guys on this list - Matthews and Jackson – and the great 1950s trio, 8 other players on this list were drafted by the NBA. The most exciting of these players may have been dunker supreme Artie “the Grasshopper” Green (#54). Also in the 1980s, the NBA drafted David Boone (#61) and Marc Marotta (#62); Jim Boylan (#53) and Marcus Washington (#59) were taken in the 70s, and Brad Luchini (#71), Dave Erickson (#64) and Mangham in the 1960s. Of course, the draft went 10 or 12 rounds back then, so it was easier to get drafted at some point than it is today.
The following are the rankings of the 51st through 75th greatest players in Marquette history. As outlined in my last column, the three numbers that are added are, in order, statistics, dominance and impact on the program. Theoretically a perfect player could get a 15 + 15 + 15 = 45, but of the 640 players rated, the average score is 2 + 3 + 2 = 7 – so the average score is actually just 7 of 45 as only truly great accomplishments get the player any points.
Key:All-time ranking among Marquette players, Name, (years played), Ratings based on statistics + domination/pro career + impact on program = overall rating.
51, Mike Moran, (1957, 58, 59) 13 + 3 + 4 = 20 Notes on why in Top 100: Over 1,300 points at Marquette, led Marquette in scoring all three years and had 670 rebounds, leading MU back to the tourney in his senior season. He put up 20.4/11.1 campaign in 1957 before Kojis arrived to take all the rebounds. Still in 1959 he used his left-handed jump shot to lead the team with and 18.1 average to finish his career with virtually every record (though Kojis would catch him in rebounds) a couple of years later.
52, Robert Jackson, (2003) 8 + 5 + 7 = 20 Notes on why in Top 100: I've found 36 MU players that were selected either All-American or All-Conference (all Independent or All-Catholic prior to joining a conference). Jackson is the lowest ranked of these 36 only because he played only one season, becoming the 2nd team center selected for the All-Conference USA team. Jackson transferred from Mississippi State to give us our only dominant big man in years and take us to Final 4 with 15.4/7.5 (2nd in scoring to Wade, 1st in rebounding), but he was the indispensable inside man to complement Wade and Diener that year. His total college career had 1,327 points and 756 rebounds.
53, Jim Boylan, (1977, 78) 6 + 6 + 8 = 20 Notes on why in Top 100: Marquette's NCAA Champions 1977 with 7.0 ppg, led team with 114 assists, drafted by Buffalo in 4th round, played overseas.
54, Artie Green, (1979, 80, 81) 7 + 4 + 8 = 19 Notes on why in Top 100: Drafted in 10th round by Milwaukee as hometown favorite, legendary leaper out of New York who was called "the Grasshopper" who was putting down two-handed stuffs back when the shoes were still terrible. While the team didn't make a run, he got bonus points for the excitement of giving MU one of their biggest recruits and most exciting players.
55, Ron Glaser, (1961, 62, 63) 12 + 3 + 4 = 19 Notes on why in Top 100: Over 1,300 points at Marquette, led Marquette in scoring all three years, leading the to the NIT in his final season.
56, Rube Schulz, (1952, 53, 54, 55) 9 + 4 + 6 = 19 Notes on why in Top 100: Forward with more than 1,000 points at Marquette, including 340 points in 1955 to finish 2nd in scoring only to the great Terry Rand on their 1955 Elite 8 team that was their first NCAA bid ever. At 6-foot-8 Rand established the high post and Schulz took the low post in a revolutionary 1-3-1 offense that noone could stop.
57, Walt Mangham, (1958, 59, 60) 10 + 4 + 5 = 19 Notes on why in Top 100: The national high jump champion stunned opponents with his ability to sky over them, while Kojis at them up on the boards. Led MU in rebounding with 10.2 per game in 1958 before Kojis (perhaps the greatest stat playing in Marquette history) arrived to dominate the glass the next year. Drafted by New York in 10th round. Also scored more than 1,000 points professionally in the ABL. Along with Kojis, were called the "Kangaroo kids.".
58, Faisal Abraham, (1994, 95, 96, 97) 7 + 4 + 8 = 19 Notes on why in Top 100: On 1994 Sweet 16 team, scored few points and defensive leader with team high 58 blocked shots for 23-8 team in 1996, followed by 84 blocked shots and team high in rebounding his senior season.
59, Marcus Washington, (1972, 73, 74) 5 + 4 + 10 = 19 Notes on why in Top 100: 9.7 ppg as guard for NCAA Runners Up 1974, drafted by Houston in 10th round.
60, Robb Logterman, (1991, 92, 93, 94) 9 + 4 + 5 = 18 Notes on why in Top 100: 6-foot-3 points guard with over 1,200 points at Marquette - senior year Sweet 16.
61, David Boone, (1986, 87) 8 + 6 + 4 = 18 Notes on why in Top 100: Drafted by Denver in 4th round after leading 1987 team in both ppg and rpg at 15.9/8.8.
62, Marc Marotta, (1981, 82, 83, 84) 8 + 6 + 4 = 18 Notes on why in Top 100: His senior year was my freshman year, drafted in 9th round by New York.
63, Bob Walczak, (1952, 55, 56, 57) 9 + 4 + 5 = 18 Notes on why in Top 100: Starting guard who scored 252 points for the Elite 8 team in 1955 was first tourney team in Marquette history.
64, Dave Erickson, (1961, 62, 63) 7 + 7 + 4 = 18 Notes on why in Top 100: Drafted by Detroit in 4th round after leading the team in rebounding and scoring in double figures his last two years, including an NIT appearance after a 20-9 season in 1963.
65, Dean Marquardt, (1979, 80, 81, 82) 5 + 7 + 6 = 18 Notes on why in Top 100: Drafted by Detroit in 6th round, a solid 6-foot-9 forward center, who led the 1982 23-9 team with 6.6 rpg.
66, Wesley Matthews, (2006, 07) 8 + 5 + 4 = 17 Notes on why in Top 100: Does anyone have a better 3-guard set than James, McNeal and Matthews? Since they started keeping steal stats in 1980, ten MU players have averaged at least 1.5 steals per game, and all three of the current starting guards are in that top 10.
67, James McCoy, (1957, 58, 59) 9 + 3 + 5 = 17 Notes on why in Top 100: After a 14.8/6.1 his freshman year, the shooting guard become the chief outside threat to loosen up defense for Marquette's incredible front line of Kojis, Moran and Mangham on the 1959 NCAA tourney team.
68, Frank McCabe, (1946, 47, 48, 49) 9 + 4 + 3 = 16 Notes on why in Top 100: Center played on the 1952 Olympic Gold Medal team that beat the Russians, after being leading scorer with 12.7 ppg his freshman year in 1949. (+3 bonus for Olympics).
69, Gene Ronzani, (1932, 33, 34) 10 + 3 + 3 = 16 Notes on why in Top 100: All-American football player helped get Marquette on basketball map in early 1930s averaging double figures (very rare back then) for 14-3 team. The Marquette Tribune, of which I was later News Editor, wrote, “Ronzani particularly had a rollicking time of it, as he roamed all over the floor, scrambling anyone in his path and usually coming up with the ball in the wildest sort of melee.”
70, Don Bugalski, (1954, 55, 56) 8 + 3 + 5 = 16 Notes on why in Top 100: The guard who scored 340 points to help lead MU to a 22-game winning streak and Elite 8 in 1955, as he ran the office that piled up 2,273 points to shatter the old mark by more than 300 points.
71, Brad Luchini, (1966, 67, 68) 7 + 4 + 5 = 16 Notes on why in Top 100: Drafted in 11th round by Milwaukee as hometown favorite, 7th in school history FT percentage at 81.1%.
72, Raymond Morstadt, (1934, 35, 36) 8 + 3 + 5 = 16 Notes on why in Top 100: On 14-3 team in 1934, then captain of 1935 team and led them in scoring.
73, Oluoma Nnamaka, (1999, 2000, 01, 02) 8 + 4 + 4 = 16 Notes on why in Top 100: Very solid rebounder Crean's first three seasons, including 26-7 campaign in 2001, and averaged 10.2 ppg his junior year.
74, Paul Carbins, (1965, 66, 67) 8 + 3 + 5 = 16 Notes on why in Top 100: Al McGuire's first two seasons Carbins was his big man, leading the team with more than 11 rpg both seasons, while scoring 976 career points.
75, Odell Ball, (1978, 79) 6 + 5 + 5 = 16 Notes on why in Top 100: Drafted by Denver in 6th round.
John Pudner, Journalism ’88, was Editorial Editor and then News Editor for the Marquette Tribune. He was named top sports news writer in Virginia in 1991 while working for the Charlottesville Observer and wrote a weekly column on his rankings of baseball pitchers for the New York Post before leaving journalism for a career in politics and government affairs.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The following is the second in a series of guest columns written by John Pudner ('88).