"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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Marquette's Greatest 100 - Update Patch

This in from John Pudner, Cracked Sidewalks' occasional guest writer.  Pudner's Book, UHG- Marquette, is in bookstores now:

OK, as the Ultimate Hoops Guide – Marquette University hits the books stand in the student union today, my Catholic guilt is kicking for the 16 players I cheated pretty badly in my initial Top 100 columns. Once I went back and crunched numbers on the 141,265 points, 74,257 rebounds, 29,086 assists, 14,942 steals and 8,410 blocked shots credited to MU players during our first 2,266 games, I ended up with a much more precise measurement of how many wins each player has gotten for MU.

The new book (www.collegeprowler.com/basketball) does not focus on the Top 100, but when you look up any of the 667 players in the index, it does list not only their stats but where they rank in the Top 200. But while 74 of the initial Top 100 players were ranked very accurately in the initial blog, but I wanted to go ahead and clear up my mistakes on the 16 players I shortchanged in my earlier Top 100 columns.

I don’t know any of the players, but for sake of anyone who looks up my Top 100 columns in the future, I am glad to have these apologies and corrections posted:

1. Gary Brell (1970-71). I know I should build up to the worst mistake, but again – Catholic guilt – I’ve got to start with my biggest apology to Gary Brell. I ranked him 91st, by far my biggest mess up as once I crunched all the numbers I moved him up 70 spots to the 21st best player in MU history. His two seasons calculated as the 36th- and 25th best seasons of all time among the 1,519 players seasons to date. No wonder he has the best record (54-4) of any MU player, and is one of the Top 20 rebounders of all time, as well as being one of the most complete players.

2. Dave Quabius (1937-39). Granted, the stats from the 1930s were harder to come by, still my second biggest mistake was the guy who almost took MU to the Elite 8 a full 25 years before Al McGuire was on campus. I moved Quabius up from 31st to 11th once I crunched all the numbers, and with just a couple of more baskets to win at Kentucky, Long Island or Temple (the latter two were the first two national champions), Quabius may have had MU in the first two Elite 8s and be in the Top 10 of all time. I found old newspaper articles from Pennsylvania in the 1930s with photos of Quabius before he came to play Temple, and the newspapers treated it as a big upset when they beat MU despite Quabius six baskets.

3. Jim Chones (1971-72). OK, I was only 7 years old when Chones had to leave for the pros during his second season so I really didn’t get the story until I dove into my research. I had him at 12th in my initial rankings, but when I crunched numbers I realized he was the only player who ever had a shot at actually being BETTER than Dwyane Wade. He wasn’t, but he was on pace in 1972 to almost catch Wade’s 2003 season, and with a 49-1 record he moves up to the 6th best player in MU history. If every MU player had played a full 4 seasons, I now believe its clear Chones would have been the 2nd best player in MU history, so 12th really was way too low.

4. Richard Quinn (1922-25). I left Quinn off the original Top 100, and now have him at 31st as part of the incredible duo with Red Dunn that gave MU their first dominant stretch. Dunn was also too low, but both got big credit once I pulled info from all the early accounts of games in the 1920s.

5. Kerry Trotter (1983-86). I know we were all still down on MU for not competing for the national title in the first decade after McGuire left, but I really didn’t realize just how awesome Trotter’s numbers were as I have to move him from 88th to 46th best in the book.

6. Al Delmore (1918-19). I left the grandfather of MU basketball out of my Top 100 as well. Admittedly, it was hard to dig out the early season stats, but once I did it was clear Delmore was the first great, coming in at 56th best of all time in the new book.

7. Walt Mangham (1958-60). Kojis is a top 10 player, but I let his incredible play overshadow his partner under the boards. Mangham and Kojis were called the “Kangaroo Kids” by the national media, and at the end of their two seasons together (1959 and 1960) their stats were almost identical and it was unclear which was the greater player. While Kojis shot ahead the year after Mangham graduated with an incredible 1961 season, Mangham’s numbers pushed him from 57th on the original list up to the 35th best MU player of all time.

8. Mandy Johnson (1982-85). Even though I watched Mandy play and he even stole the ball from my roommate one time in a pickup game, I didn’t realize just how good he was in 1985 until I crunched the numbers and he moved from 94th on my original list up 32 spots to the 62nd best MU player of all time in the book. In the seven years between Doc Rivers All-American season in 1982, and Tony Smith’s All-American season in 1990, Johnson’s 1985 season was the best of any player. The fact that he helped them win an NIT game at Cincinnati and take Indiana to double overtime in his final two games were the conclusion to a great career that I underestimated until crunching all the numbers.

9. George Frazier (1971-73). I really have no excuse for initially leaving Frazier off the Top 100 list, as he comes in at 77th once the numbers are crunched. I have his final season in 1973 (306 points, 199 rebounds and 70 steals while helping MU allow only 61 points a game) as the 101st best season of 1,519 played by MU players.

10. Robert Deneen (1938-40). The other player I missed by under appreciating just how good the run was in the late 1930s was Deneen, who was the big scorer to go along with Quabius. I left him off the initial list, but he comes in at 69th in the book.

11. Raymond Morstadt (1934 – 36). I also underestimated the guy who might just be the greatest scorer in MU history when you consider the pace basketball games in the mid-1930s, when there were jump balls after every basket and the shots were all set shots. Despite this slow paced game, Morstadt scored 9.7 points per game during his career, while he helped MU allow opposing TEAMS to score only 24.7 points per game during the three year. This means that Morstadt was scoring more than 39% of the points MU needed to win each game, which is by far the best career scoring total in MU history, and would be the equivalent of scoring 25.9 points per game in modern times. That’s enough to move him from 72nd best on my initial list, to the 50th best player in the book.

12. Tony Smith (1987-90). I was called to task for leaving Smith out of the Top 20 at 22nd in the initial list, and when I crunch the numbers he moves up to 13th. I know some will still be mad he is not in the Top 10 based on his 689 points and all-time best scoring average in 1990. However, he doesn’t quite get the Top 10 because his other three seasons weren’t nearly at that level, as he never had even 400 points until the senior year. I don’t blame him for that, as I note in the book he was just hardly shooting at all until O’Neill took over, but with all the MU greats it does let 12 slip ahead of him in the rankings.

• The other four players who were shortchanged in the initial rankings were Mike Bargen (1996-99, left off list and now 80th), Red Dunn (1922-25 was 86th, now 30th), Marcus Washington (1972-74, 59th to 40th), Larry McNeil (1972-73, 29th to 14th) and Richard Nixon (1961-63, left off list but now 87th).

Still, the initial Top 100 was pretty good with 74 of 100 players ranked right about where they should be and still are in the book.

I won’t go through the 10 players that I should not have had in my Top 100, as they are all still in the Top 200. Basically, lacking most stats the initial list gave average players on championship teams higher rankings than superior players on lesser teams, a mistake now fixed.

And truly, thank you for everyone who criticized the bad rankings in the initial column – it really set me down the road to needed additional research that ended up creating the new book. And for the criticism’s that I still believe were ill-founded, it made me do additional research to back up my original assertions.

Now I just wish Mbakwe was still going to be around. Now his 17 points, 23 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocked shots listed in the book will apparently never increase – what a shame, but I’m sure Buzz will plug the hole soon.

Thanks to John for his data crunching and CS columns.  Make sure you order his book here.  Look, the dude has like 8 children.  He needs the dough.


Richard said...

Corrections=Well done! Glad to see TS get moved up.

jpudner said...

Thanks! Realizing I'd underestimated Tony Smith was really the first step to realizing I wouldn't sleep well at night until I did all the research. If Buzz's first recruiting class lives up to it's potential, we may need to move TS and some others down a little in a few years though. Let's hope the new guys are as good - or better - than they look.