"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

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Marquette's Greatest Players #26-50

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

26th to 50th Best Marquette Players Ever

As we get to the Top 50 players in Marquette history, we are mainly talking about players who put up great statistics and were dominant enough to be drafted by the NBA or selected to All-Conference teams.

How much higher can McNeal get than his current 28th rank? Much higher. His dominance figure is an excellent “9” due to his Big East honors, including not only All-Conference but Defensive Player of they year, and his stats “10” are also great as his 2.7 steals per game is the best ever among Marquette players, better even than Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade and the other top stealers in MU history. The only thing McNeal (and Matthews and James) need to shoot way up the list is a couple of wins in the NCAA tourney to improve his “impact” ranking from “4.”

Several other players on this list have been held back by the lack of team success during their tenures. Berce, Copa, Curry, Henry, Powell, Wardle, Wittberger and Wolf – played on teams with losing records or barely above .500, so they didn’t get the “impact” points that players on championship teams received. Of these eight, only Copa’s teams won 60% of their games (72-48) despite Copa’s 983 points, 558 rebounds and 75 steals as a 6-foot-10 center.

Already, the 9-1 start has improved MUs record while McNeal has been her to better than 70% (53-22). McNeal’s stats are much better than Gary Rosenburger (member of National Title team) and Amal McCaskill (member of 1994 Sweet 16 team) on this list, but he needs to match their success.

MU has produced two tall 3-pointer shooters on this list in Chris Crawford and Steve Novak. Crawford has left the NBA due to injury, and Novak is currently on the Rockets development team, but both were among the toughest matchups in college basketball during their time at MU.

Brian Wardle is the player most hurt on this list by the Impact Factor. Wardle’s first ranking is “10” for his great numbers including being 4th in all-time scoring. He also gets an “11” for his dominance as judged by the votes by the conference to make him all-freshman, 2nd team and 1st team in consecutive years. However, his third rating – impact – is only a “4” because his teams went only 64-54 during his tenure. Certainly it isn’t his fault that he had such a weak supporting class those four years, but the lack of wins cost him a few spots in the rankings.

Here is the list from #26 to #50:

Key: All-time ranking among Marquette players, Name, (years played), Ratings based on statistics + domination/pro career + impact on program = overall rating.

26, Amal McCaskill, (1992, 94, 95, 96) 8 + 11 + 9 = 28 Notes on why in Top 100: 2nd round pick, over 100 NBA games - Sweet 16 1994 team, 175 career blocked shots is 2nd in school history, and averaged double figures and easily led team with 266 rebounds in 1996 run to 23-8 mark. The 1994 team was so good, that I have actually ranked all four of the other starters ahead of McCaskill - as good as he was.

27, Chris Crawford, (1994, 95, 96, 97) 7 + 12 + 9 = 28 Notes on why in Top 100: 2nd round pick, 1,600 NBA points before injury, 6-foot-10 three-point shooter, 45% 3-point shooter at Marquette and constant double-double threat, freshman year on Sweet 16 team and a good scorer on very balanced teams his final two years, including a 23-8 squad in 1996.

28, Jerel McNeal, (2006, 07) 10 + 13 + 4 = 27 Notes on why in Top 100: Will become 39th Marquette player to top 1,000 points this year, and has 200 steals in first 64 games and Big East Defensive player of year, will be in NBA - if he and James can get us to Elite 8 then they are among the greatest. His career 2.7 steals per game is the best in MU history, topping Johnson (2.5) and Wilson (2.3).

29, Larry McNeil, (1972, 73) 9 + 11 + 7 = 27 Notes on why in Top 100: 6-9 forward, 2nd round pick, over 2,500 NBA points.

30, Steve Novak, (2003, 04, 05, 06) 8 + 12 + 7 = 27 Notes on why in Top 100: NCAA Final Four, 2nd round pick, has hit a few NBA 3-pointers but in developmental league now, shot over 97% from line and almost 50% on 3-pointers to become 10th leading scorer in team history.

31, Dave Quabius, (1938, 39) 11 + 12 + 3 = 26 Notes on why in Top 100: An All-American at Marquette who went onto play professionally for one of the teams that founded the NBA and co-captained the 1939 team to a 12-5 mark.

32, Sam Worthen, (1979, 80) 8 + 13 + 5 = 26 Notes on why in Top 100: 2nd round pick, 69 NBA Games.

33, Gary Rosenberger, (1975, 76, 77, 78) 7 + 6 + 13 = 26 Notes on why in Top 100: Marquette's NCAA Champions 1977 with 7.3 ppg, drafted by Milwaukee.

34, Gene Berce, (1945, 47, 48) 11 + 12 + 2 = 25 Notes on why in Top 100: Set a team record in ppg every season he played, with 13.4, then 14.7 then 17.7 per game, the last mark making him the 5th highest scorer in the country. Made the all-star team for the western half of the US before playing a few games in the NBA.

35, Brian Wardle, (1998, 1999, 2000, 01) 10 + 11 + 4 = 25 Notes on why in Top 100: 4th all-time leading scorer at Marquette with 1,690, and led Crean's first two squads in scoring at 18.8 and 16.6, adding 132 rebounds in junior year to keep MU in contention until Wade, Diener and Jackson could arrive and get us back on top! All-conference player of the year.

36, Cordell Henry, (1999, 2000, 01, 02) 9 + 11 + 5 = 25 Notes on why in Top 100: Over 1,300 points at Marquette, started 110 of 120 games in career, and a 2nd team all-conference player who played professionally overseas. He led Creans first two teams in assists with 128 and 102, before being only three behind Wade during 26-7 campaign, and his points built steadily from 9.1 to 12.9 to 15.2 to make him one of only two scoring threats during Wade's freshman and his senior year.

37, Ed Mullen, (1933, 34, 35) 9 + 13 + 3 = 25 Notes on why in Top 100: Marquette's first All-American who led the 1934 squad to a 14-3 mark then played 5 pro seasons.

38, Joe Thomas, (1968, 69, 70) 6 + 9 + 9 = 24 Notes on why in Top 100: One of Marquette's "Big 4," who scored 11 points in 1970 NIT championship win, then played 39 games in NBA.

39, Trevor Powell, (1988, 89, 90, 91) 12 + 8 + 3 = 23 Notes on why in Top 100: 9th leading scorer in school history with 1,571 points, and led team in rebounding all four years from 1988 to 1991.

40, Ron Curry, (1991, 92, 93) 9 + 10 + 4 = 23 Notes on why in Top 100: Over 1,000 points at Marquette, shot 59.7% from floor to set conference record and led team in scoring and rebounding in 1993 to lead the team to a 20-8 mark and the NCAA tournament en route to the following years Sweet 16 run.

41, Oliver Lee, (1978, 79, 80, 81) 9 + 8 + 6 = 23 Notes on why in Top 100: Over 1,200 points at Marquette and drafted by Chicago in 1981 - led 20-11 NIT team in 1981 in both ppg and rpg with 17.7/6.5.

42, Robert Byrd, (1977, 78, 79, 80) 7 + 7 + 9 = 23 Notes on why in Top 100: Drafted by Chicago in 7th round, backup on National champs freshman year.

43, Russ Wittberger, (1952, 53, 54, 55) 11 + 4 + 7 = 22 Notes on why in Top 100: Over 1,300 points at Marquette, senior year was Elite 8 team - and on the incredible 1955 Elite 8 team. After leading the team in scoring with 12.0 his freshman year while his brother Grant led in rebounding, Russ put up an eye-popping 19.4/8.5 his sophomore year but the 1955 team was so good that he actually lost his starting spot - helping the team to the Elite 8 and a 22-game winning streak as a sub and was still 3rd in scoring with 262 points to finish with more than 1,300 career points at Marquette.

44, Jeff Sewell, (1968, 69, 70) 8 + 5 + 9 = 22 Notes on why in Top 100: Star of 1970 NIT Championship with 22 points, then drafted by San Francisco in 8th round.

45, Bob Wolf, (1965, 66, 67) 11 + 6 + 4 = 21 Notes on why in Top 100: 12th on all time scoring list and drafted by Chicago of NBA in 1967, as he pumped in a 22.0 ppg in 1966 to help McGuire to his first winning season at MU, then scored another 18.4 the following year as McGuire led the team to a 21-9 mark and to second place in the NIT.

46, Scott Merritt, (2001, 02, 03, 04) 9 + 4 + 8 = 21 Notes on why in Top 100: Over 1,000 points at Marquette and helped Wade, Diener and Jackson take Marquette to final four with 10.1/6.6 for 2nd on team in rebounding, then finished career with another 11.2 in 2004 and team high 219 rebounds.

47, Anthony Pieper, (1994, 95, 96, 97) 7 + 5 + 9 = 21 Notes on why in Top 100: Over 1,200 points at Marquette - freshman year Sweet 16 he was first guard off bench as a freshman, and was a starter except when injured after that. Gave MU an excellent 2nd 3-point shooter in addition to Crawford, and averaged 11.6 and 11.2 ppg his final two seasons on a very balacned squad.

48, Ric Cobb, (1969, 70) 9 + 3 + 8 = 20 Notes on why in Top 100: The "elevator man" averaged a 10/10 on the Elite 8 team in 1969 despite coming off the bench, then led the team in rebounding again with 9.1 rpg on the NIT championship team in 1970. He was then drafted by Phoenix in 10th round before returning as an assistant coach for Rick Majerus at MU.

49, Tom Copa, (1984, 85, 86, 87) 7 + 10 + 3 = 20 Notes on why in Top 100: Played in NBA, dorm mate of mine while I was at Marquette and at 6-foot-10 and much faster than me, he was much better than me when we played against each other in gym. We underappreciate the guys who kept the program afloat after the McGuire-Raymonds-Majerus years - Copa, then Smith, then McIlvaine and finally Wardle. Without them, I don't think we would have ever attracted Tom Crean and Duwayne Wade to get back on top. Just missed 1,000 point mark, instead settling for 39th place at 983.

50, Brian Brunkhorst, (1965, 66, 67, 68) 7 + 8 + 5 = 20 Notes on why in Top 100: A few NBA games after leading the NIT runners up in 1967 with 7.8 rpg.

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...

Novak is back up and scored 8 points two days ago.

Anonymous said...

This list is a farce. Instead of "crunching the numbers", I wish Mr. Pudner had gone back and watched video of past games (where available) to determine the order of his list. To list Amal McCaskill ahead of Novak, Wardle, Henry, Powell is a complete joke.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is "crunching numbers" at all: its pure conjecture. Tom Copa in the top 50? Huh? Brian Wardle was a stud for 4 years, and a great college player, 1 step too slow for the NBA.

Anonymous said...

These lists are fun to read, but hard to take seriously. I think the main flaw is putting too much weight on being drafted and playing in the NBA. Brian Wardle was one hell of a college basketball player and the 4th all-time scorer at MU. How can he be this far down on the list? I think Tom Copa is getting extra credit for living in the same dorm as the author - he was a so-so player at best, maybe near the bottom of the top 100 - maybe. Oh, and putting a guy (Nick Williams) on the list who's never even suited up for MU, kind of makes the list a joke.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, McCaskill was NOT a starter on the 1994 sweet sixteen team - that would have been Eford, Key, Mac, Logterman, and Tony Miller.

Championships and Final Fours Mean Everything said...

I'm waiting to see his Top group and who are the best five Warriors of all time. My personal view is the top five should be Maurice Lucas, Dwayne Wade, Butch Lee, Bo Ellis and Jim Chones.

Lucas was essential on the 1974 Final Four team and a 14 year pro. Wade, Butch and Bo got us in the Final Four and the Butch and Bo show won it. Jim Chones was a thoroughbread. If he had not left, there would be at least one more national championship banner hanging in the Bradley Center

Clearly, the next five would be Glenn Rivers, Jerome Whitehead, Earl Tatum, Lloyd Walton and George Thompson. All were great and Earl was a long-time LA Laker. Jerome was special and brought home a national title with Butch and Bo and in virtually any other college would have been in the Top 5. But this is Marquette and the choice of the Top 10 is so close it is ridiculous.

If I see Bernard Toone in the Top 25, I'll lose my lunch!