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.
Next monster mash: The perfect shooting guard.
The Invisible Swordsman
Body - Billy Owens. At 6'8", Owens was a monster of a shooting guard/small forward who had a good handle and solid technique. At the top of the 2-3 zone, he gave opposing guards fits. His body type also allowed him to be effective close to the rim as well as a strong rebounder.
Physical attribute - Dave Bing's...well...everything. Dave was a little before my time, but from what I have seen and read about him, he was the most complete basketball player we have ever had on The Hill. His jump shot, ability to get to the hoop, fundamentals, you name it, made him the kind of player that comes along only a few times each generation.
Intangible -- Mike Hopkins hustle. No, not "Color of Money" hustle, but real hustle. Look, Hop was a solid if unspectacular player, but he gave everything he had for The Orange. If basketball courts were made of dirt, he's have been covered in it head to toe by the mid point of the first half. You want that kind of hustle on your ball club!
Body- Kind of a stretch for me, since I've always considered him a PG at heart, but I'm going with Brandon Triche's physique. He might have been a tad short for a SG but, man, Triche was solid. And more than that, he knew how to use his strength. He was excellent inside and on the boards, all of which was due to his wide-bodied physique.
Physical attribute- I originally went with Stevie Thompson's hops. Maybe it was me trying to bring some equity and give a shout out to an older era, even though I never actually saw him play. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it has to be Andy Rautin's shooting. While we're combining players, what if Andy had James Southerland's height? Is there any way he's not coming off the bench as a stretch 4 for some NBA team right now? Andy's near perfect technique meant he was able to knock down big shots at big moments when everyone else was dragging ass. Think back to the 6OT game. How many big threes did Andy hit in the second, third, fourth OT? Some might call it heart or being a gamer, and all those things are true too. But the base for it all was a shooting stroke that any 2-guard would want to have.
Intangible- A bit of a curveball here: Eric Devendorf's heart. Devo was (is) a lot of things. He's brash and cocky. Bill Simmons would label Devendorf as an irrational confidence guy. Hell, even his name is kind of stupid sounding. But for all his faults and issues he wasn't a tool to the level of, say, Marshall Henderson. Devo's game was built entirely on his irrational confidence and it most often worked out well for the Orange. He played with his heart on his sleeve and it's a shame that he's remembered for the negatives rather than the positives.
Body - Dion Waiters. Whether you’re taking shots or driving the lane, a rock-solid 6’4" gives you so much power and stability. I get that some might considered it too short, but that kind of strength makes up for it. It made Dion versatile, which is exactly what you need at this position to keep defenders honest and create scoring opportunities.
Physical Attribute - Lawrence Moten’s suave scoring. He played the 2 and the 3, but I’ve always considered him a guard, so I’m putting him here. He’s the all-time leading scorer at Syracuse and in the Big East. Even better than the numbers he put up was how he did it – effortlessly. They didn’t call him "Poetry In" for nothin’. It’s about time they’re retiring his jersey.
Intangible - Andy Rautins’ leadership. Arguably one of the best teams in recent history (2009-10) completely fell apart when he was benched after picking up his fourth foul with almost 14 minutes left in a game against UConn. They lost a huge lead and only recovered after Andy went back in. He came through the ranks, improved every year, and never took a minute off. That’s leading by example, and you can’t teach that.
Body - Dion Waiters was an absolute bulldog, and when he got going towards the rim, he was virtually unstoppable. You could argue that he wasn't quite the ideal height for the perfect Syracuse shooting guard, but at 6'4" he was still plenty tall to be effective in the zone, and his explosiveness in the lane made up for any issues there.
Physical attribute - Andy Rautins' shooting: I would almost argue that Andy's biggest impact in 2009-10 was his defensive prowess (see: how he ruined North Carolina's day with seven steals at MSG), he was so good at the top of the zone that for most of the season, teams were forced to run their offense from the wing or the baseline because Andy was so adept at interception passes across the top of the arc. However, we've seen the effect of a lack of shooting on a Syracuse club, and Andy's ability to bomb teams out from deep allowed Scoop and Kris to penetrate and Wes to find holes in opposing defenses. Even if he was cold, Andy was always a threat that had to be respected, and often times that is just as important as makes in spacing the floor and stretching defenses.
Intangibles - I won't limit this to one past Orangeman, but it is always great to have a two guard who can create for himself in crucial situations. Eric Devendorf, Dion Waiters, and point guards like Scoop Jardine and Jonny Flynn all had this ability, and when a big moment comes around, having a guy who can take it to the rack or pop a shot off the dribble with a great chance of sinking a big three is key.
So, there it is, the perfect shooting guard. Did we miss someone? Be sure to put your perfect player in the comments. Check back all week as we go position by position.