"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, December 09, 2008

Where will the 3 Amigos rank among all-time greats?

John Pudner writes a guest column for Cracked Sidewalks:

Where will the 3 Amigos rank among all-time greats?

Jerel McNeal's explosion Saturday to beat Wisconsin rekindles the question of where he will rank among the all-time greats in Marquette history. McNeal's 26-point, 7-rebound performance against Wisconsin meant that he has been worth 1.8 wins in Marquette's 7-1 start this season, according to the Win Credits system (see www.collegeprowler.com/basketball for explanation of system).

After taking Stanford apart in the NCAA tournament to finish the 2007-08 season, McNeal was ranked as the 26th best player in MU history. To answer that question, I ran the system outlined in the Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University to determine where he could finish among the all-time greats that include 33 players who have NBA or All-American credentials.

First I ran the formulas to determine how many Win Credits each player deserves to date. Predictably, it is very balanced between the Fab 4, with Wes Matthews still the top player on the team with 2.0 Win Credits, followed by McNeal at 1.8, Hayward at 1.6 and James at 1.3. That accounts for 6.7 of Marquette's 7 wins, with Butler, Acker and Cubillan sharing the rest, and Burke needing just a couple of more stats to get credit after his lock down defense against Wisconsin.

Potential all-time ranking
PlayerPtsRebAstStlBlkDefNetWCEnd of 2008Elite 8, drafted, 30-8 season20-14 season






Key: The player's five basic stats are added, and then one-tenth of MUs points allowed are subtracted (55.6 points for the 556 points allowed). The players net contributions are divided by the team's net contributions and multiplied by wins (7 MU wins to date) to determine his Win Credits.

From here, I projected that each player maintained the same stats over the course of a season under two scenarios:

Under a best case scenario, I determine how high each player could rise in the rankings assuming he led MU to the Elite 8 in a 30-8 season, and that he was drafted by the NBA. Under this scenario:

  • McNeal could rise all the way to 14th in the rankings (catching Larry McNeil)
  • Matthews (averaging over 20 points per game) could rise all the way to 15th
  • Hayward could rise to about 27th place (almost catching Sam Worthen)
  • James (even with just his 11.5 ppg) could rise to about 20th just behind Bernard Toone
Under a worst case scenario, I assumed each player kept accounting for about the same percentage of MUs wins, but that Marquette struggled to a 20-14 season without any tournament wins and the player did not get drafted or even get all-conference honors. Under this scenario:
  • McNeal would still crack the Top 20 of all time (just behind Toone)
  • James would move up to 22nd of all time (just behind Michael Wilson)
  • Matthews would finish his career as the 48th best of all time (just behind Ron Eford)
  • Hayward would edge David Boone and a few others to break into the Top 50

It typically takes about 2.0 Win Credits in one season for a player to break the Top 200 MU players of all time. Maurice Acker is the closest of the other players, having been credited with 1.0 Win Credits last year and showing signs against Wisconsin of getting past that level this year.

A total of 672 players have suited up for Marquette since 1917, as detailed in the Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University, which can still be ordered at www.collegeprowler.com/basketball as a stocking stuffer for all of the Marquette fans you know.

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.

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