"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

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MU's top 100 players: author's final thoughts

The following is a wrap-up comment from John Pudner, author of the recent series on Marquette's top 100 players of all time:

Thanks for everyone's feedback, this really was fun and I really did want the feedback, particularly the ones that referred to additional info. The one pick I really blew was Tony Smith, who it's clear should have been in this top 10. I really didn't boost Doc Rivers much for coaching, but I can certainly see Smith and Chones somewhere in the Top 10 and bumping him and Tatum just outside it.

OK, Smith was my worst pick, I really penalized him too much for his teams going 54-60, when I should have looked at it as him saving the program during those years. I know most of you seem to think McIlvaine was my worst choice, so I will make the case one last time and then shut up - because I really had and have no attachment to McIlvaine, the numbers just keep leading me back to him.

It sounds like I may be all alone in defending McIlvaine as a Top 15 to my grave, but he is the one case where every time he gets criticized and I take another look at more stats and history, I end up feeling even stronger that he is a top 10 player.

If stopping points is just as important as scoring them, his 1994 season is one of the greatest ever. He is listed as the national defensive player in the year by the NCAA book that came out in 2005. His 1994 team allowed almost as few points a game (61.7) as the pre-shotclock 1977 NCAA champs (59.4) and far fewer than Wades' final four team (69.5).

That team allowed the lowest field goal percentage (35.8%) of any team since they started keeping the stat in 1978 except for the 2000 Stanford team that had three 7-foot defensive specialist on their front line. Believe it or not, the year before when we beat Kentucky in the regular season, it was the only time in the history of MU that we have beaten a No. 1.

When going through the Top 25 individual seasons of all time we don't have any of the top 25 scoring years, or rebounding years. But Mcilvaine's 142 blocked shots in 1994 is the 22nd best season ever, and his career total of 399 is the 17th best season ever and puts him only 13 blocked shots behind Shaq. Mark Anglavar's 53.5% 3-point percentage in 1989, and Tony Miller's 956 career assists are the only other individuals to make a Top 25. (granted many of these stats weren't kept until the 1970s, but the fact that McIlvaine is so near the top of the thousands of centers who have played since then just make me credit for defensive dominance, and the team was also tops in the nation in field goal percentage in 1993 with 39.3%.

Maybe I'm also just biased because I feel like if he were playing this year, I wouldn't care if he never came down the court on offense. We could get plenty of points between James, McNeal, Matthews and Hayward, then the could just go for steals knowing that if someone got by them, McIlvaine would have their back.

**To read all of John's entries, click on the tags below.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, with 191 votes already cast it looks clear that D. Wade is the clear Number 1, though the rest of the top 5 was in the order listed - Wade 110 (57%), Ellis 27 (14%), Thompson 19 (9%), Lee 15 (7%), Meminger 14 (7%) and someone else 6 (3%). Flip Wade and Ellis, and this looks like a pretty solid Top 100!