How do you create the perfect basketball player? Surely he'd shoot like Larry Bird and have eyes everywhere like Magic Johnson. He'd be a physical freak like LeBron and have Michael Jordan's indomitable will to win.
The TNIAAM staff have taken on the challenge of creating a Frankenstein monster of the perfect SU player, mixing and matching body types, physical skills and intangible attributes of the best players in Orange(men) basketball history.
First monster mash: The perfect point guard
The Invisible Swordsman
Body - Michael Carter-William's length. With MCW at the top of the zone, the Orange D was a devastating force. Even the most seasoned and accomplished frontcourts struggled to find lanes and angles against MCW. Our zone thrives with long, lanky guards up top, and it was never better than when MCW was up top.
Physical Attribute - Pearl Washington's ability to drive. Maybe it was the years on NYC's playgrounds, maybe it was the pear-shaped physique. Whatever it was, The Pearl was virtually unstoppable when driving to the hoop. At his zenith - the 1985 Big East tournament- no one, and I mean no one, could keep him from scoring.
Intangible - Sherman Douglas' ability to throw the alley-oop! With the length of MCW, and Pearl's ability to drive through the defense for points, nothing could be more demoralizing than a point guard who could spot a cutting forward or center and throw up a pass so soft, so accurate that the ball seemed to float forever above the rim, patiently waiting for an SU player to grab it and throw it through the hole.
Body- I think you have to go with Michael Carter-Williams' length. Syracuse has had their share of lanky lead guards. Jason Hart comes to mind. Even Billy Edelin would qualify. But MCW is the epitome of what the ideal SU guard is in terms of body type.
Physical Attribute- Jonny Flynn's explosiveness. I've never seen a Syracuse point guard get fron point A to point B (on the floor or vertically) quicker than Flynn did. His monster dunk over then Rutgers guard Mike Rosario sums it up beautifully. I don't know which is prettier, the dunk or the lighting quick crossover that got Flynn free.
Intangible- I'm gonna cheat a bit here and use the same attribute for two different players: the leadership of Gerry McNamara and Scoop Jardine. Those guys were very different players, but both were the undisputed leaders of their teams. Both were unafraid of the big stage. G-Mac might be remembered more due to winning a 'chip, dropping 40 on BYU in the NCAA tourney or pretty much single-handedly winning the 2006 Big East Tournament (Overrated!?), but make no mistake, Scoop was every bit the leader G-Mac was.
Body - Michael Carter-Williams, hands down. Or hands up, I guess. The zone rattles people, but having a 6’6" guard at the top of it was unreal. No one could see, let alone pass over him. People say that his "vision" led to great passes, and that’s true to a point. The rest of it is actual vision. When you’re 4 or 5 inches taller than your defenders, it’s pretty easy to see over them to make plays.
Physical Attribute - This is a bold choice because the kid has only played exhibition games, but I was floored by Tyler Ennis’ control. His execution is almost nonchalant. The last thing you want is a PG who starts playing frenetically under pressure, because it rubs off on everyone else. A team feeds off of its play maker. If he’s in control, the team’s in control, and that’s key in tight games.
Intangible - Gerry McNamara’s work ethic. He. Never. Stopped. You want six 3s in a national championship game? Got it. You need to win four games in four days to take the conference title? No problem. Gerry’ll even do that one for you with a stress fracture. He pushed until he had nothing left, and then pushed some more. Why? Because Goonies never say die. That’s why.
Body- I see a lot of points for Carter-Williams here, and it’s easy to understand why. At 6’6" he could see over the top of his defender, and wreak havoc on opposing guards. My only knock on him was his relative lack of physical strength. I remember watching him get pushed around by the likes of Pitt, where he would try to drive the lane and literally be shoved away. I would have loved to see him play in the ACC this year. Between the new rules on handchecking and the league’s overall less physical style of play, he would have been a monster.
Physical Attribute- I’m going to skew a bit obscure here, but how about Lazarus Sims’ eyes? As a senior he was the starting point guard on a Final Four team, and averaged 7.4 assists per game. Want to guess how many assists MCW averaged last season? 7.4. Sims was as deft of a passer as has even put on an SU uniform, but he gets lost in the shuffle of other, more famous PGs like MCW, Jonny Flynn, Pearl Washington, and Sherman Douglas.
Intangible- Flynn gets my vote here. He had a knack of making a memorable play or having a big game on the biggest stage. School record for points in a debut? Check. Monster dunk at Rutgers? Check. 67 minutes in 6 overtimes vs. UConn? Check. Flynn thrived in the spotlight, when other lesser players may have wilted from the glare.
Body - Michael Carter-Williams was really the prototype, especially at the top of the zone on defense. He was the most disruptive player that we've had in that spot since Andy Rautins, and his length gave him such an advantage on both ends of the floor against smaller, stockier guards, which we saw in the NCAA Tournament when he was able to effortlessly glide towards the rim at times. I don't expect that 6'6" point guards will ever be the norm for Syracuse (or any team, really), but a man can dream.
Physical attribute - I'm going on mostly reputation here since his time at Syracuse was before I was born, but having watched a decent number of highlights from the late 80s, I would love to see more point guards with the passing ability of Sherman Douglas. Since we're building our dream teams here, ideally the point guard will not be the featured scorer with all of the crazy Syracuse forwards who can put it in from anywhere on the court, so give me a guy who can get them the ball in the right place each time down the court.
Intangibles - Back to players I have seen in Orange, I really miss the heart and leadership that Scoop Jardine brought to the team as a senior. He was never the most physically gifted player, he made a ton of mistakes and had limitations as a player, but he really knew how to run a talented team, and when Syracuse needed a bucket, Scoop never shied away from the big moment or the clutch shot, even if it seemed outside of his comfort zone as a player.
So, there it is, the perfect point guard. Did we miss anybody? Make sure you put your perfect player in the comments. Check back all week as we go position by position.