If you would like to see the blind statistics from this series without having them spoiled, check them out at the following links before reading this article. Point Guards - Shooting Guards - Small Forwards - Power Forwards - Centers
This was an enlightening exercise for me, and it really made me appreciate the unique team we have this year as well as the individual legends we have had over the years. It is easy as pie to pull out the current players from these lists, and it's mostly the function of two things: our depth this year, and the learning curve the legends never seemed to need.
It is startling how much depth this team had. Kris Joseph is the only member of the team to average over 30 minutes per game (31.4). Ten former players that made this list averaged 30 minutes or more over their entire three- or four-year careers. The guys on this year's team haven't accumulated the gaudy stats of years' past, but not because they couldn't, because they didn't have to.
Still, it's really amazing how many players the Orange have had that contributed right away as freshmen... and then stayed for three or four years. Every player on the roster has shown incredible growth from their freshman year to now. Brandon Triche, if he starts next year, will be the first four-year starter since Gerry McNamara. If you can play right away, you don't stay. That's just the way it works now.
Too much pontificating, let's see who was who:
That is one hell of a list. In terms of raw, per-game stats, Scoop looks woefully out of place. But if you adjust for his limited minutes, he is right up there. His season A/TO ratio and EFG% are second only to Sherman Douglas and his 3FG% is second only to G-Mac among point guards (and that by .4%). Let your brain chew on that for a minute.
Once I got to the 2-3-4 positions, I had to start making judgment calls on where to put people. Two of the people on this list spent significant time at small forward, as well. Those two, Moten and Thompson, ended up ranking 1st and 7th on the all-time scoring list. Why did I put them with the shooting guards? They were pretty short for forwards. That's really all I got. How do Brandon and Dion stack up? Surprisingly well, actually. If this team needed its guards to give 30 minutes per game instead of just over 20, they'd have some very impressive stat lines going. Their ball handling, especially, is top notch. And Dion's steal percentage is impressive under any circumstances.
Kris Joseph belongs in this group, no question. But the revelation for me wasn't how well KrisJo fit, it's "holy crap, Wes Johnson was awesome." Still after the one-and-done seasons of Carmelo Anthony and Wes, I think Kris fits in really nicely with the classic SU swingmen.
Putting together this list taught me one thing: we are a team without a power forward. Here's hoping Rakeem Christmas puts it all together next year, because C.J. Fair is a small forward playing among the tall trees. But seriously, look at Coleman, Owens, Wallace and Warrick. Those are some sick, sick numbers (and a combined 15 seasons of production).
I want to talk a little bit about Etan Thomas here. Etan made his career by being solid, dependable, and workmanlike. He epitomized lunch-pail basketball. I still think Fab is the one truly irreplaceable part of this year's team, but he has yet to even match Etan's numbers (averaged over four years). If Fab can stay another year, he should stay. That said, we went to a Final Four with Otis Hill, and Fab compares fairly favorably to him.
Thanks for all the positive feedback and responses to these columns, I had a blast doing them. I have one more Blind Taste Test in store for this season, one that's very different from these. Until then, go orange!