"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, January 14, 2008

Marquette's Greatest Players #11-26

The following is the fourth in a series of guest columns written by John Pudner ('88).

Dominic James is the 17th best player in Marquette history already. If he leads Marquette to a couple of NCAA wins this year he could potentially break into the Top 10, whereas if he is a little off down the stretch, he could drop to the second best player on his current team because McNeal is so good.

James has started every game he has played, and can do everything a guard can possibly do with 1,095 points, 363 assists, 133 steals (2.0 spg is 6th all-time) and 263 rebounds as a guard. His freshman year was the best year of any freshman in MU history, and he was 4th place all-time in sophomore scoring with 506 points. And while MU fans seem a little tentative about getting their hopes up for the tourney after recent first round exits, the current No. 10 ranking bodes well.

If you take out the ridiculously successful 1970s, in which MU finished ranked in the Top 10 every season, we have been ranked in the Top 10 at the end of three seasons and each year the team backed up the ranking with a tourney run. In 1955, Terry Rand led MU to an 8th place ranking, and then backed it up with our first Elite 8. In 1968, George Thompson led MU to a 10th place ranking, and then backed it up with a Sweet 16 run. In 2003, Dwyane Wade led MU to a 6th place ranking and then to the Final Four. Jim McIlvaine led MU to a 17th place ranking in 1994, and then backed it up with a Sweet 16 run. If Dominic still has MU in the Top 10 at the end of this season, then backs it up with a Sweet 16 run, then he will probably end up in the Top 10 MU players of all time.

Back to McIlvaine, I had some push back from graduates of the early 1990s who viewed Damon Key, not McIlvaine, as the key to the 1991-94 teams. Certainly an argument can be made for either of the two, who were as dominant a 1-2 inside punch as you could have. Through their first three years together, Key was clearly the better player as he was All-freshman in 1991, then 2nd team all conference in each of the next years, while McIlvaine didn’t receive any awards nor match Key’s stats those first three years.

If weighing just career stats, you could put not only Key, but teammates Roney Eford and Tony Miller higher than McIlvaine. However, when measuring the impact on the program, 1994 may have been the most important year ever – and that’s when McIlvaine could not have been bigger. Remember MU had been through a DECADE of not making the tourney, and 1994 was the year they went to the Sweet 16 with a 76-63 drubbing of Kentucky.

As good as all of his teammates were, McIlvaine not only made all-conference for the first time – he was voted the MVP of the Conference. He was named the top defensive player in the COUNTRY that year, as he finished swatting his 399 career blocked shots (well over twice what any MU player has done). Only Butch Lee being ranked as the top player in the US in 1978 is more impressive – the writers, coaches and NBA scouts all judged McIlvaine to be the best of the four, taking him with the 32nd choice of the draft and soon thereafter signing him to a $34 million contract. He played in 401 NBA games, and as great as the other three were, none were drafted by the NBA or ever played an NBA game, though Miller had a great career in Europe. I reevaluated many of my draft rankings after feedback from other grads, but McIlvaine is one 7-foot-1 center I need to stay with.

While Key had better rebound and scoring stats, McIlvaine’s blocked shots are so much better than any MU player that I put him ahead – to have a guy back their blocking 3, 4, 5 or 6 shots every game means he was also altering a lot of other shots, the equivalent of scoring an extra 5 or 10 points a game.

The only problem with Ronnie Eford being so good, is that his arrival was basically the end of William Gates career (see Column 1). Certainly Allie McGuire was not only an incredible player –he graced Sports Illustrated as the guy who made MUs offense run in the early 1970s – but the fact that he was Al McGuire’s son is a huge asset.

The following are the rankings of the 11th through 25th 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.

11, Jim McIlvaine, (1991, 92, 93, 94) 14 + 13 + 9 = 36 Notes on why in Top 100: His 399 blocked shots by this 7-foot-1 star is such an incredible number, well over twice what any other Marquette player has ever had, that when you add his 1,278 points and 673 rebounds, he challenges for the best pure stats of any player. He capped his dominance inside by taking Marquette back to the Sweet 16 appearance for the first time in over a decade, being named as Conference MVP as well as NATIONAL Defensive Player of the Year. He was a 2nd round pick and played more than 400 games in NBA after signing a $34 million contract with Seattle.- and should get bonus points for chasing a jealous Shawn Kemp out of the Seattle. The fact that McIlvaine was the best player in the conference, and the best defensive player in the country in one of the most important seasons in the history of the school for me puts him a little higher than Key, who was clearly the better player the other three years they played together.

12, Jim Chones, (1971, 72) 10 + 14 + 11 = 35 Notes on why in Top 100: Only two seasons at MU were 26-0 and 21-0 starts in which he combined for 19.0/11.7 double double, before becoming 2nd round pick, and scoring over 7,500 points in NBA in 10 seasons. Consenus All-American and considered most complete big man in country. ABA allowed underclassmen, so he jumped. 6-11 C-F. Chones and Lackey combined for a 53-5 (91.4%) win percentage in their two years there, second only two Gary Brell's 54-4 mark in his two years that overlapped the 1971 season.

13, Jerome Whitehead, (1976, 77, 78) 9 + 14 + 12 = 35 Notes on why in Top 100: His tip-in at buzzer against UNCC to send Marquette into 1977 NCAA Championship was the most important moment in Marquette history - and he was just behind Ellis with 262 rebounds and 10.5 ppg, 2nd round pick, over 4,500 points in NBA. Led the team wtih 8.3 rpg the year after the title.

14, Travis Diener, (2002, 03, 04, 05) 11 + 14 + 8 = 33 Notes on why in Top 100: Final 4 team with 11.8 ppg and led team with 184 assists, 2nd round pick, averaged over 10 minutes per game in first 2 seasons, 3rd all-time leading scorer while at Marquette.

15, Lloyd Walton, (1974, 75, 76) 9 + 13 + 11 = 33 Notes on why in Top 100: Ran offense as 6-foot guard for NCAA Runners-up dishing out 138 assists and 9.4 ppg, more than 1,000 NBA points.

16, Michael Wilson, (1979, 80, 81, 82) 12 + 10 + 8 = 30 Notes on why in Top 100: 6-3 guard had 272 steals to form one of the highest pressure defensive backcourts with Doc Rivers, leading the 1982 squad with 16.1 ppg before playing in the NBA.

17, Dominic James, (2006, 07) 11 + 13 + 6 = 30 Notes on why in Top 100: Leader of our current 10th ranked team that is just a couple of missed layups away from beating Duke and being No. 7 - 38th Marquette player to top 1000 points and could pass George Thompson if stays next year, 348 assists and 252 rebounds in first 70 Marquette games, will be in NBA next year or 2009. Has started EVERY game in his career, and was rookie of the year. One of only 6 players to average at least 2 MU steals a game since.

18, Tony Miller, (1992, 93, 94, 95) 11 + 13 + 6 = 30 Notes on why in Top 100: One of the true greats, top QB prospect who chose Marquette and brought them back as one of the top 3 point guards in the Country - breaking Kentucky's press to take them back to the sweet 16. The school's all time assist leader with 956, and played another 12 years in Europe as one of the top steal/assist guys.

19, Bob Lackey, (1971, 72) 10 + 12 + 8 = 30 Notes on why in Top 100: All-American during senior year with 15.2/8.1 as a 6-foot-4 guard, then 71 NBA games. Chones and Lackey combined for a 53-5 (91.4%) win percentage in their two years there, second only two Gary Brell's 54-4 mark in his two years that overlapped the 1971 season.

20, Bernard Toone, (1976, 77, 78, 79) 7 + 10 + 13 = 30 Notes on why in Top 100: Marquette's NCAA Champions 1977, 2nd round pick, Played in NBA. Famous for the fight he got into with Al McGuire in the locker room of the 1st Round game in 1977 in which he said McGuire had renegged on a promise to start him. McGuire said the fight helped the team regroup to win the title.

21, Roney Eford, (1993, 94, 95, 96) 10 + 10 + 9 = 29 Notes on why in Top 100: I recounting the William Gates story in my first column. While Gates nagging injury may have kept him from reaching the top, the other factor was the arrival of Eford who was just too good for Gates to get many minutes from 1993 on. Eford scored over 1,400 points at Marquette, and was extremely versatile inside or out with 150 3-pointers and over 697 rebounds, and conference freshman of year - on Sweet 16 1994 team, and 2nd in scoring with 12.5 for 23-6 team in 1996.

22, Tony Smith, (1987, 88, 89, 90) 13 + 12 + 3 = 28 Notes on why in Top 100: I got to see one of the best play, as Tony came my senior year and was All-American three years later with 23.8 ppg. Ranks in top 5 in MU history in scoring, FT and FG made, assists and steals despite not having strong teams, then became 2nd round pick, over 2,500 NBA points. It's pretty tough to top his stats over 4 years at Marquette, and the only thing keeping him from being in the Top 10 was a very weak supporting cast during his four years at MU. The team actually went 54-60 despite his incredible play those four years.

23, Aaron Hutchins, (1995, 96, 97, 98) 11 + 11 + 6 = 28 Notes on why in Top 100: over 1,400 points at Marquette, 5-10 guard kept a very balanced MU attack running with an incredible 215 assists to go with team high 14.0 ppg in 1996, followed by 172 assists and 13.4 to finish just behind Crawford the next year in ppg. Scored and his assists led to all MU starters averaging double digits on 23-8 team in 1996.

24, Damon Key, (1991, 92, 93, 94) 10 + 11 + 7 = 28 Notes on why in Top 100: The 6-foot-8 forward is 7th all-time leading scorer at Marquette, and on the incredible inside duo with McIlvaine that led Marquette 1994 team to the Sweet 16 with an upset of #3 seed Kentucky, 76-63. One argument I got when circulating an initial Top 100 list to friends was that Key was really the key to these teams, not McIlvaine, and that is a legitimate argument. If you look at the four years as a whole, Key does have the edge as he was voted to the conference all-freshman team in 1991, and then was 2nd team all-conference the next three years while McIlvaine was not recognized until 1994. The steadier performer of the incredible duo underneath. See McIlvaine for why I have him higher.

25, Allie McGuire, (1971, 72, 73) 9 + 8 + 11 = 28 Notes on why in Top 100: Ran the greatest regular season teams, between the NIT Title and the NCCA Runner-up, and was featured on Sports Illustrated cover for being, "The Man Who Makes Marquette Go." In Dick Enberg's one-man play, a Marquette player complain that Al McGuire is playing his son Allie is playing in front of him, and basically Al says of course he is biased toward Allie. Of course I'm biased too - only a few games in the NBA but he was Al McGuire's son so how can you overestimate his importance to Marquette's tradition! (bonus for his dad's coaching). Meminger and McGuire had the best records of any MU 3-year starters in history, going an identical 78-9 mark (89.7% winning percentage).

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.


Anonymous said...

My, and many others, lasting memory of the great Jim McIlvaine is Grant Hill dunking over him as Duke took over the sweet 16 game. MU actually got off to a 10-0 start in that game, but Hill brought them back.

Listing him over Jim Chones, one of the greatest ever to play at MU, is scandalous.

Anonymous said...

I am a big McIlvaine fan, but Jim Chones is one of the 5-10 best to ever play at Marquette. If not better than that.

Thanks for compiling this list!

jce said...

Tony Smith at #22? Behind Roney Eford?

C'mon...if Tony Smith played at Marquette just a few years later as part of the Sweet 16 team, he is the star of that team. Tony Smith was the lone bright spot in a series of dismal Marquette team. Surround him with any talent at all, and his number is up in the rafters.

Anonymous said...

the undefeateds fall in the BE after just 4 games. Tell me this is not the toughest league top to bottom... Thanks Pitt.

TheCardinalRules said...

Looking forward to another great game, guys!

R U Ready

for a wild night in the Hall?

Anonymous said...

The Chones/Mac debate once again illustrates the flaws in the "rating" system. Chones only played two years because freshman weren't eligible, AND he was thought highly enough by pro scouts to leaver after his junior year - Mac was not. Chones had a much better pro career as well. At MU, Chones' teams were much more successful, and Chones' numbers, other than blocked shots (I guess) were superior to Mac's. McIlvaine was good, but Chones was better.

Kaz said...


First let me thank you for compiling such a great list with measurable criteria behind it. It is a great starting point for a lot of discussions. Thanks.

Now, I believe Tony Smith should be a lot higher on the list. First, his impact on program ranking should be higher then a 3. He carried the team on his back during his years, scoring at will and was the one man press break when opponents threw 2,3,4 guys at us in the press. Kevin O'Neill's offense was basically clear outs for Tony. He was the heart and soul of the Program. His success in KO's first year set the tone at MU and reestablished MU as a viable winning program. (A lot of people don't realize how low the program was after the Dukiet era and how many other programs had passed us by.)

He also played a very important role in recruiting the talent of the 1994 Sweet 16 team. All of those Wisconsin based players Tony helped recruit. He showed by his actions that home grown basketball talent could succeed at a Wisconsin based school. (See Joe Wolf for the "before" Tony story.)

Tony also had a wonderful NBA career where he was basically the designated defender on Michael Jordan when he played for the Lakers. Marquette was mentioned on more NBA on NBC broadcasts then I could count because of Tony. I still remember the game where Magic was injured and T. Smith shut down MJ and was named the player of the game. Tony was a big part of those Lakers teams that made it to the NBA finals v. Chicago. Tony got a lot of run. (I think Tony was guarding MJ when he made that signature move where he floated in the air and switched hands for the lay-up late in a game.)

Tony also came back and coached for Tom Crean and earned his degree. (Even though a lot of his credits were useless because of the changes in program curriculum.) He is still talking up MU in various local cable TV and radio gigs.

Again, I believe Tony Smith is an undervalued and underrated player in MU history and should be higher in you ratings - at least a top 10. I feel in the future, his 34 will be retired (a long with Jimmy Mac's 34 and Travis' 34). Thank you again for all your hard work.

Anonymous said...

Kaz - right on and well stated.

He was the player most responsible for saving us from oblivion as you documented. Also - keep in mind that opponents also knew he was the only talent on our team and he was unbelievable in spite of being keyed on at all times.

Anonymous said...

Can you PLEASE tell me who voted McIlvaine the national defensive player of the year? McIlvaine doesn't belong anywhere near where he is listed. It actually takes credibility away from the list as a whole and makes me believe you are basing his ranking on the fact that he got a big NBA contract is is currently calling MU games on the radio. He was certainly one of Marquette's tallest players.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this bizaar story line will keep UL occupied this week:


In paging through their blog it appears they are a bit immature - and don't like Tom Crean much. All the better.

NY Warrior said...

Who voted for McIlvaine as national defensive player of the year?



jce said...


That pretty much sums up my thoughts exactly. To determine how far the program had fallen by the end of the Dukiet era, one just has to see what conference we joined after being an independent - the MCC with the likes of Loyola, Evansville and Butler. And we weren't very competitive within that conference.

Tony Smith came along at a time when the program was starting the likes of Joe Nethen and Tony Candelino - who by the way is a basketball administrative assistant with the University of North Florida now. In some ways it can be said that Tony saved the program on the floor.

Anonymous said...

This does not fit here exactly, but will all this disussion on Al's great players, I was thrilled to find this quote from Bulls head coach Jimmy Boylan regarding Al and the current mess with the headcase diva from Florida:

Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said he liked the way Noah responded to his punishment. Boylan also said he has seen similar things in basketball before, though not so much in the NBA and not with rookies.

"Actually, when I was at Marquette I witnessed it several times." Boylan said. "There were altercations that happened with Al [McGuire] even worse than what happened the other day. Al pushed you further than you thought you could go. Sometimes when you put a lot of demands on people, sometimes they rebel.

"To me it's not something to really freak out about. It happened. Everyone's fine. No one is hurt, no one's sick. We move on. It's a new day. We learn something from it."

The full version is in Sam Smith's article on the chicagotribune.com today on Noah

Anonymous said...

This guy is obviously a moron. Tony Smith behind Eford, Toone, D. James, Deiner, and Tony Miller?? Oh Okay. What the hell are you smoking? Also Chones and Whitehead are clearly ahead of McIlvaine. Chones is possibly top 5. Wade,Lucas,Thompson,Rivers, Chones is a pretty good starting 5.

Anonymous said...

I'd put T Smith in the top 10 easily for all of the reasons above, but many who have never seen him would not have respect for him had this not been written and discussed.

Too much work went in to call the author a moron.

I think #1 is hard to dispute, but I'm curious about 2-5.

For those dissing Mac - there was nobody in the NCAA that changed an opponents game more than JMac (in his 4 yrs). He may not have been Hakeem on the offensive end, but he was an effective weapon.

Anonymous said...

I don't think we are dissing Jimmy Mac as much as we are defending Jim Chones. The guy was great enough to help MU be ranked #2 in the nation, something D-Wade never did, but his home situation drove him to sign, during the season, with the ABA. He was a great college player and a great NBA player, one of the truly magic names in MU history.

I certainly agree that the "moron" comment is way out of line, but this list seems incredibly influenced by the author personal experiences. If he saw them in person, then ....

Anonymous said...

FROM THE AUTHOR - I am sorry I happened to be traveling when my column came out, so am just now reading comments. Thanks for all the feedback (except for the one calling me a moron :-) ). All excellent points, particularly on Tony Smith and Jim Chones. Smith was the one I felt worst about when typing - because remember I was on campus through the Dukiet years and know how bad it was - and actually Tony Smith is the only guy in the top 25 I actually got to talk too and he was just a great kid as a freshman before we fully grasped how great he would be. As I said, clearly he is in the top 10 in ability. I did put a lot of weight on the team's success while the player was there - to reward guys who sacraficed stats to be part of championship teams etc., so unfortunately once I started down that path the 54-60 mark during Tony's years killed him. I agree that you could look at it the exact opposite way - that his stats are even more impressive because he was alone on an island. As for Chones, judging a 2-year career against a 4-year career (albeit freshman didn't used to play) was one of the toughest calls thorughout the whole top 100. I did have a preference for guys who played their whole career there, even though a couple of obvious ones did make the Top 10. My basic theory is that you have more impact on a program if you are on the court for 4 years than 2, even if that's for reasons beyond your control.
As for McIlvaine - I live in Alabama so I have never heard him on the radio. I have to run to bars to pick up games that aren't on cable. I've always believed defense is undervalued because it is just as valuable to stop a basket at to score one. The consensus seems to be that I have McIlvaine too high - and part of what I like about putting a list out is that it solicits opinions from everyone who saw people play like everyone of you responding.
The reason I gave even more credit for the 1994 and 2003 teams is that if you came in the 1970s you knew MU would be in the Top 10 - as opposed to breakthrough years like these - therefore McIlvaine and his teamates from 1994 are all very high, as are Wade and his teammates from 2003.
My secretary actually pulled up the blog and asked if it threw me to get "so much criticism." Absolutely NOT. Putting out a list like this is meant to be a conversation STARTER. I am unbiased, because I went through an absolute dead time for basketball on campus, so I really don't have personal bias. My friends who were there for the 70s, the 90s or the 2000s all have a bias toward players they knew, and I really don't. If you want to see criticism you should have seen when I used Bill JAmes statistical formulas to rank the top 50 youth players for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a few years ago. Imagine every mother or father who saw that their little "Johnny" was listed No. 19 when they knew he was better than the kid who was ranked 11!
My point to each parent who called to complain was that Johnny wouldn't have been in the newspaper at all if someone hadn't done a ranking.
Same here, this is an excuse to remember 100 great Marquette players and at least develop a proposed framework for determining who those 100 are.
There will definitely be more arguments about the order of the Top 10 because I could have reshuffled the Top 9 several times (though I think you've all convinced me that Chones should have been in that top 10).

Anonymous said...

I agree that calling the author a "moron" is way out of line, but I AM dissing McIlvaine. He was clearly the 3rd or 4th (!) best player on that 1994 team. He does not belong on this list.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree that anyone who would rate Roney Eford higher than Tony Smith is clearly lacking some observation skills. T. Smith top 10 is a no brainer. Kind of like rating Dwight Burke ahead of Maurice Lucas Also, being a memeber on a team that won 2 rounds in the NCAA's doesn't mean all players on the team are top 40 all-time. That team played a great game against Kentucky in the tourney Finally, the Chones 2 year argument is just bogus. How many years did Wade play? Did Rob Logerman have a bigger impact than Wade?

Kalynne Pudner said...

I don't know much about most of these players, since I too was at MU during the dead years ('85-'88) and never got my hands on any tickets anyway. But I can certainly attest that the author is no moron. Devising formulae to rank athletes who played at different times and under divergent conditions has been a time-stopping passion since his days at Johnston Hall.

I ought to know.

We were on Trib staff together.

Anonymous said...

By any objective criteria, McIlvaine is one of the greatest 13 MU players ever.

OK, I don't want to think about the Louisville game so I'm skipping back to the comments on my rankings.

Two points to admit in light of good feedback in the responses and my follow-up research - Tony Smith and Jim Chones should have been in my top 10. I penalized Smith too much for the team's losing record during his years, and many of you have provided all kinds of other reasons his IMPACT rating should be high. Also, the commentary on Chones from his playing days does bump him up a few spots.

Now, the criticism I have to respond to is all of you that discount Jim McIlvaine was not one of the greatest players in MU history. The responses that several players on the 1994 team were better than him and that the biggest memory of him was Grant Hill dunking on him are ridiculous. Moving Chones and Smith into the top 10 would make McIlvaine the 13th greatest Marquette player ever. I will even say that if MU makes a run this year that Dominic and Jerel could conceivably both pass him to knock him as low as 15th. But I want one of the critics to give any real objective basis for saying he is not one of the Top 15 players in MU history, other than you just don’t think he was that good when you watched him.

Clearly if that is your position, then you are putting your opinion above EVERYONE who is paid to evaluate talent, from the college coaches who played against him, to the sports writers that covered him, to the NBA scouts, coaches and GMs – and you are even throwing out career stats. Consider the following and then make your case!

1. According to the coaches who make their living by evaluating talent, McIlvaine was the best in the Conference. The claim that several people on the 1994 team were better than McIlvaine is ridiculous. The coaches who watch every team play twice and had to figure out who was the best voted McIlvaine as the Conference MVP – No. 1! They voted Damon Key to the 2nd team all conference – in other words on of the best 10 players in the Conference. I don’t want to make this a criticism of any of the 1994 players who were all awesome, but how can you think you are a better evaluator of talent than all the coaches in the Conference who said McIlvaine was simply the best?

2. According to the writers, McIlvaine was the best defensive player IN THE COUNTRY. Only a few thousands guys play Division I basketball every year, and the writers from across the US would say he was the best IN THE COUNTRY. The argument that his 399 blocked shots don’t matter because Grant Hill dunked on him in the sweet 16 is on the level of the ESPN commentator who said he wasn’t impressed with LeBron’s 51 points in a game this week because he threw up an airball. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but players dunk on us all the time now – can you imagine how tough this year’s team would be to beat if McIlvaine played now and was swatting 3, 4, 5, or 6 shots every game. To say McIlvaine is not one of the greatest is to say you are a better evaluator than writers who compared him to players from all over the US.

3. According to the NBA scouts who keep their jobs by evaluating talent, McIlvaine was the 11th best player to ever come out of Marquette. He was taken with the 32nd pick of the draft, and in MU history only Duwyane Wade, Butch Lee, Dean Meminger, Bo Ellis, Earl Tatum, Don Kojis, Larry McNeil, Sam Worthen, Jim Chones and Doc Rivers were taken higher (Chones and Rivers by 1 spot at 31st in the draft). To say McIlvaine doesn’t belong is to say you are a better evaluator of talent than the NBA scouts.

4. According to the NBA coaches and GMs, McIlvaine is the 11th best player to come out of Marquette. He is one of only 11 players to play 400 games in the NBA, so he backed up his draft choice. The only MU players to be good enough to stay in the NBA longer than him are Doc Rivers, Maurice Lucas, Don Kojis, Jerome Whitehead, Jim Chones, Tony Smith, George Thompson, Dean Meminger, and I’m counting Dwyane Wade since he will play more than 400 games. To say McIlvaine doesn’t belong is to say you are a better evaluator of on the court, one-on-one talent than the coaches and GMs who are fired if they pick the wrong players.

5. McIlvaine is one of only 11 players to record over 1,200 points and 600 rebounds at MU. The others are Don Kojis, Bo Ellis, Terry Rand, Tom Flynn, Trevor Powell, Ron Glaser, Damon Key, Roney Eford, George Thompson and Mike Moran. So using the two most important stats, he is in the Top 11, and that’s without even mentioning the 399 blocked shots he had that helped make him the top defensive player in the country. To say McIlvaine doesn’t belong is to ignore the stats.

The case for McIlvaine as the 13th best player in MU history is simply too easy to make. Keeping in mind that when a 7-foot-1 center blocks a shot, it is usually a high percentage shot in the paint. So let’s say 55% of those shots would have gone in – that means McIlvaine took 439 point away from opponents. Any when you add to that the shots that were altered and the guys who didn’t come in the lane (like Duke and Louisville both did to us throughout those two losses this year), and the guy saved hundreds and hundreds of points from being scored over what a typical frontline player with maybe 50 or 60 career blocked shots would have.

I just don’t see how you put anyone else ahead of McIlvaine on the all-time list. And to repeat, I never say him play, met him or have even heard his radio telecasts – he was just that good using any objective criteria. – John Pudner

Anonymous said...

I graduated MU in 1963 the year before Al came to MU. Just as a side note that was the year Loyola-Chicago won the NCAA championship, and to this day don't get enough credit for starting 4 black players that year(we all know about Tex-Western). Now to the list and Punder's research. I would have to agree with the previous complaints about Chones and Smith. Boy wouldn't we all like to have a Jimmy Chones this year. Tony Smith was a multi-dimensional play on a mediocre team but was probably the 4th best guard in MU history behind Wade, Lee, and Rivers. Mac's defensive impact was undeniable, and I have no problem seeing him as a top 15 player and he was certainly the most important member of that team. However, Tony Miller was the reason they advanced in the tourney but no way near a top 20 MU player. This is the biggest reason the list is flawed. Clearly weighing players in your era was part of the criteria, as well as career stats which doen't always tell you how great a player was. Remember no three pointers until the late 80's or early 90's and also stats were kept differently in the 60's and 70's. I believe assists had to be without a dribble after the catch. I appreciate the list as do all of us old-timers. The best 5 that I have seen since 1959 are as follows:
2)Maurice Lucas
3)Butch Lee
4)Glenn Rivers
5)Jim Chones

Thompson,Meminger,Smith,Kojis, and Whitehead would probably be my next five. Oh it's so hard I loved Lloyd as well.

John Mullins 63'

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting the list together, but you need to keep in mind the quality of coaching these players recieved: Chones, Lucas, and Butch has Al: the current players have the human-self-promotion-machine. Just impagine if the 77 or 74 teams were coached by Tom Crean: 1st round losses!!!

(Oh my: What do I do??? A zone defense!? Oh my!)

Anonymous said...

Ok maybe the author isn't a moron but he has now admitted that T.Smith should be top 10 after having him at 22. Hope you're not a lawyer because that was a pitiful defense. The correct response should have been "I made a complete fool of my self putting Tony Smith behind players such as Eford, James, Deiner, Miller etc." I think the moron comment was justified and verified by everyone else's responses as well and your inability to defend your argument.

That MU 70's Show said...

ok folks..enough is enough! Where is Mr. Ellis on this list? Oh... and did we forget the other Maurice... you know... the one who played in the NBA for about a 100 years! (Get Real People!)