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.
Last monster mash: The perfect center.
Body - Roosevelt Bouie. At 6'11"(7'3" with the afro) Bouie was already a huge man. But he 'fro gave him a more noticeable and intimidating presence. Not to mention, inside that afro was an excellent basketball brain. He ran well, positioned well, and would have been a much more prominent alum had he not opted to play his entire career in Europe rather than the NBA.
Physical attribute - Etan Thomas' shot blocking ability. I could go with Fab Melo here, but he's a flake, and Swordsman only likes flakes in his cereal bowl. Before Etan was a dependable NBA Center, he was a fantastic defensive anchor for Boehiem's zone scheme. He was exceptional at taking away driving lanes, and when an opponent was daft enough to try to take it to the glass, Etan was there to send the ball ten rows deep.
Intangible - Rony Seikaly's DJ skills. In this day and age, "the kids" (as I like to call college players these days) always need some rap, hip-hop and deep house tracks to get themselves in the right frame of mind prior to practice, games, and term papers. What could be better than having your very own world-renowned DJ in your ranks? Sure, the guy was easily one of SUs top 50 players of all time, but it's his ability to not only reject shots but lay down an insane groove made him the only SU player capable of leading a block party one night, and an entirely different one on another!
Body- Darryl Watkins. A legit 6'11"-7'0". Built like a house, but still quick and athletic. Everything you want a center to be. In fact, while watching him play, I sometimes almost felt as if he was too strong.
Physical Attribute- Fab Melo's shot blocking. Many might cry foul that I'm not citing Etan Thomas here. And even Watkins was a very good shot blocker in his day. But I don't recall any Syracuse center being as effective a rim protector as Fab. He was an absolute eraser, which allowed the rest of the team to gamble for steals and leak out for breaks. Fab's shot blocking impacted the entire game, which is why it gets the edge.
Intangible- I'm going to double dip again and cite the same thing for two players. The energy brought by Rony Seikaly and Baye Keita. Rony came in raw and ended up a very good college player and a long tenured pro. Baye will probably not reach those heights. But both made up for their lack of polish with hustle. Big men are often tagged as lazy and sluggish. These two are the antithesis and serve as a role model to centers everywhere.
Body - At 6’11", 260, you could say that Darryl Watkins was a substantial fellow. Throw in the 7’3" wingspan, and you’re anchoring the zone with a 747.
Physical Attribute - Fab Melo’s defense. Traditionally, Boeheim hasn’t expected as much offense to come from this position, but as the final barrier before the basket, you need solid D. Sure, he blocked shots, but for a guy his size, he was fantastic at taking charges. Add to that, his general frightening of anyone who dared enter the paint, and that’s that.
Intangible - Rony Seikaly’s charm. There were a lot of SMH moments, but even then, you couldn’t help but laugh at him. He started out as a punch line, used the criticisms as motivation, and ended up being a favorite. Yea, he had his faults, but he was nothing if not entertaining.
Body type- SU has had a variety of body types for its centers over the years, from the stout and sturdy Arinze Onuaku/Otis Hill types to the long and lanky Conrad McRaes (RIP) and Baye Keitas of ther world. But for my money no one had the combination of size and skill that Rony Seikaly possessed. He's probably the best true center SU has had, and there have been several good ones over the years.
Physical skill- Newly-minted NBA player Onuaku had his shortcomings, but he also had one of the best rear ends in SU basketball history - and I mean that in the most respectful way possible. He knew how to take advantage of his width and strength to back down opponents and shrug them off on the way to the hoop, and it always started with planting that big butt of his in the post and waiting for the ball to arrive while some poor sap tried in vain to get around him and make a play on the ball.
Body/Physical Attributes- It pains me to say it now because of how things ended with him, but Fab Melo was a total specimine. A true seven footer who could score down low, and was among the best shot blockers in the nation, Fab was the centerpiece for one of the country's best defenses in 2011-12.
Intangibles- Baye Keita's Heart - If Fab had the determination as his recruiting class-mate Baye, he may have gone down as one of the all-time greats at Syracuse. Like Fab, Baye has not been playing basketball for very long, but by all accounts he's a total sponge as a pupil, and has been one of the hardest workers on the team for all four of his years. He's played through injuries that were probably worse than any of us know, and he's overcome a lot of physical limitations to be the guy that Boeheim trusts above all others in crunch time. In an ideal world, we'd probably love to have DaJuan Coleman or Rakeem Christmas playing at the end of games due to their raw ability, and maybe this is the season where one or both of them realizes their full potential, but I am very comfortable with Baye manning the back of the zone late in the second half because you know you'll get toughness, grit, and all-out hustle at all times from him.
So, there it is, the perfect SU center. Did we leave someone out? Build your perfect player in the comments. If you missed any of the other positions, click the links below