SEC Basketball? It Used To Be Good!

Part of my online schtick is trolling passionate basketball fans who never fail taking the bait. The truth is there was a day when basketball was by far my favorite sport–NCAA OR NBA. In terms of understanding the game I would be more qualified to coach basketball than any other. Granted, that’s sort of like saying I could run a spelling bee easier than a NASA control room but still. That opening for cheap shots aside the reasons for falling out of love with basketball are legion but above all was the cratering in quality of play in the SEC generally and at Tennessee in particular. The Bruce Pearl era was obviously a nice rebound but overall the league has been mostly unwatchable for a pretty good stretch.

So last year about this time we were snowed in similar to last week. On a message board I’ve been part of for 15 years, I laid out an all time team for each SEC member school to pass the time. Fans of opposing teams chimed in with opinions and corrections and I think we settled on definitive top 5’s for each program. Of course, lists such as these are never settled so I thought I would reorder and consolidate what I had and open it up for discussion. The other purpose is to remind folks that the basketball talent with an SEC pedigree is not limited to Kentucky and collectively is a match for any league in the nation.

We will go roughly alphabetical with a proposed starting five and notables that just missed. There is an attempt to have position integrity but we aren’t beholden to it. Generally, we are looking for two guards and three post players. Please feel free to reminisce/debate/rip the selections in the comments.

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Alabama leading off is appropriate as the depth in this program is staggering. It’s inconceivable they have never made a Final Four. The final selections come from lifelong Alabama historian @lennykoz but more eyepopping is who you have to leave off. Interchange names at will you can’t go wrong with this roster.

1st Team:
G. Ennis Whatley
G. Latrell Sprewell
F. Reggie King
F. Antonio McDyess
C. Leon Douglas

Sprewell when he could better feed his family prior to his NBA days

Sprewell when he could better feed his family prior to his NBA days

2nd Team:

G. James (Hollywood) Robinson
G. TR Dunn
F. Buck Johnson
F. Derrick McKey
C. Erwin Dudley

STILL LEFT OUT! Ronald Steele, Robert Horry, Bobby Lee Hurt, Eddie Phillips, Mo Williams, Keith Askins, David Benoit

Dazzling array of talent. And incredibly probably not the best team and I’m not even talking about Kensucky. Er, Kentucky.

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Auburn has one of the thinner all time teams but its starting five would be a load headlined of course by Barkley.

G. Eddie Johnson
G. Chuck Person
F. Mike Mitchell
F. Chris Porter
C. Charles Barkley

Human Pogo Stick Chris Porter

Human Pogo Stick Chris Porter

Some would argue Wesley Person ahead of maybe Porter. But as my friend @magnumCJ pointed out Porter, though a JUCO, entered the league a dunking Tour De Force lifting Auburn to immediate national prominence. The 1999 team was a #1 seed before losing to the Michael Redd/Scoonie Penn Ohio State team in the Regional Semifinal in Knoxville. Ohio State went on to take down Ron Artest and St John’s to advance to its first Final Four since 1968.

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Arkansas is not quite as deep as Bama but it’s about as tough to settle on a top five. The tendency is to load up with Richardson players and, considering they won back-to-back titles, that is reasonable.

1st Team:
G. Sidney Moncrief
G. Scotty Thurman
G. Alvin Robertson
F. Todd Day
F. Corliss Williamson

Holy hell, what was Moncrief's vertical?

Holy hell, what was Moncrief’s vertical?

2nd Team:
G. Corey Beck
G. Lee Mayberry
F. Scott Hastings
F. Oliver Miller
C. Joe Klein

I’m not sure team two doesn’t beat team one because Corey Beck would beat anybody’s ass on the floor.

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Florida is obviously solid but doesn’t quite jump off the page like a few other teams. Sum greater than the parts kind of thing but that may be just me. Some of that is explained in that the history is fairly barren pre-Donovan.

1st Team:
G. Vernon Maxwell
G. Jason Williams
F. Joakim Noah
F. Al Horford
C. Dwayne Schintzius (Assume he’s healthy)

Tough to top this pic as  a virtual time capsule starter set for the '80's

Tough to top this pic as a virtual time capsule starter set for the ’80’s

If you ever saw Schintzius in person you know he was a true marvel physically. A literal monster where if you could have put his frame on someone like Ralph Sampson there is no telling what could have been.

2nd Team:
G. Corey Brewer
G. Lawrence Moten (EDIT:Commenter TrinityPills notes LAWRENCE Moten played at Syracuse. This should have been ANDREW Moten)
F. Mike Miller
F. David Lee
C. Udonis Haslem

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Georgia is the most underachieving program in the conference, if not the nation, for my money. It’s a decent starting five but how can there be this little depth with Atlanta right down the road?

G. Vern Fleming
G. Litterial Green
F. Dominique Wilkins
F. Shandon Anderson
C. Alec Kessler

The poor representation by Georgia aside the SEC has never seen anyone like 'Nique and likely never will

The poor representation by Georgia aside the SEC has never seen anyone like ‘Nique and likely never will

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So now we come to King Kong. We could do four starting fives easily but I’m going to just to do a first five and then notables that come to mind.

G. Rex Chapman
G. Kenny Walker (out of position)
F. Dan Issel
F. Jamal Mashburn
C. Sam Bowie

People think of Chapman as a gunner but he could jump out of the gym

People think of Chapman as a gunner but he could jump out of the gym

Notables out of another at least 50 candidates: Kevin Greavy, Jack Givens, Tony Delk, Melvin Turpin, Kyle Macy, Winston Bennett, Pat Riley, Cliff Hagan, Rick Robey, Jim Master, John Pelphrey, Scott Padgett, Wayne Turner, Jamaal Magloire, etc

It’s the leagues crown jewel for a reason. Grudgingly.

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Even accounting for UK’s ludicrous depth, LSU’s starting five is the most dominant. I can see no way anybody beats this bunch so long as any coaching at all takes place, i.e. NOT coached by Dale Brown. Brown somehow took a team with Ricky Blanton to the Final Four yet not with Jackson, O’Neal, and Stanley Roberts but that’s another story.

G. Pete Maravich
G. Chris Jackson
F. Bob Petit
F. Rudy Macklin
C. Shaquille O’Neal

As a kid, I always heard about Maravich. Jackson had to be a reasonable facsimile as a shooter

As a kid, I always heard about Maravich. Jackson had to be a reasonable fascimile as a shooter

2nd Team:
G. Howard (Hi-C) Carter
G. Randy Livingston (assume healthy)
F. Dewayne Scales (or Brandon Bass)
F. John Williams (or Glenn Davis)
C. Stanley Roberts

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G. Jeff Malone
G. Dontae Jones
F. Ricky Brown
F. Bailey Howell
C. Erick Dampier

This is the only clear shot I could find of Malone in a Miss St uniform and that's a shame

This is the only clear shot I could find of Malone in a Miss St uniform and that’s a shame

Obviously pretty thin but Malone is worth mentioning by himself. As pure a shooter has never been in the SEC. There may be a few his equal but none better.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! If anyone can find something more ridiculous than this you deserve a Pulitzer

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!
If anyone can find something more ridiculous than this you deserve a Pulitzer

G. Elston Turner
G. Marshall Henderson
F. Johnny Newman
F. John Stroud
F. Gerald Glass

I’m not sure if Henderson belongs but it’s an excuse to post the greatest GIF in existence.

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Missouri’s success on the court doesn’t quite match its reputation but being a recent addition to the league means I don’t know much about them. If there are more worthy candidates I’m happy to hear about them.

G. Anthony Peeler
G. Larry Drew
F. Derrick Chievous
F. Kareem Rush
C. Steve Stipanovich

Chievous is Mizzou's all time leading scorer with 2,850 points

Chievous is Mizzou’s all time leading scorer with 2,850 points

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Another thin roster with a wretched basketball history besides some of the Frank McGuire years but Alex English had a prolific NBA career.

G. Mike Dunleavy
G. BJ McKie
G. John Roche
F. Alex English
F. Brian Winters

English looks like he never aged a day here from his Nugget years

English looks like he never aged a day here from his Nugget years

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I can comfortably say that the UT starting five could beat anyone else except LSU (couldn’t handle O’Neal’s size). You can call me biased or misguided if you choose but you would be wrong. UT also boasts the best all around player in SEC history with Bernard King.

1st Team:
G. Chris Lofton
G. Allan Houston
F. Bernard King
F. Ernie Grunfeld
F. Dale Ellis

There isn't a more iconic photo of UT athletes in existence and that includes any of Manning

There isn’t a more iconic photo of UT athletes in existence and that includes any of Manning

2nd Team:
G. Rodney Woods
G. Mike Edwards
F. Reggie Johnson
F. Howard Wood
C. ‘Big Sexy’Kevin Nash (Actually Tom Boerwinkle or even Jarnell Stokes)

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Vanderbilt is quite a bit better than most would think. Many terrific players over the years that, like Bama, it’s hard to figure how at least one epic NCAA run never happened.

1st Team:
G. Shan Foster
G. John Jenkins
F. Clyde Lee
F. Jeff Turner
C. Will Perdue

You think Michael Jordan ever tried to punch out Will in practice?

You think Michael Jordan ever tried to punch out Will in practice?

2nd Team:
G. Derrick Byars
G. Barry Goheen
G. Billy McCaffery
F. Charles Davis
F. Matt Freije

So that’s it. Better than you expected, eh? Oh, and I didn’t omit Texas A&M via oversight. Look up that history sometime waiting at the doctor’s office. It wont take long.

(Other h/t’s @anxietyreigns , @risenberg , @nedland5 , @tgoodbigjim )

 

Who needs the NFL combine?

I know you love it even if it means nothing to you.

OK, that’s a trick headline. The NFL Combine is hilarious as public spectacle because it’s well-nigh unwatchable and doesn’t really show an NFL fan anything worthwhile about how these youngsters will play once they hit the league next year and beyond. From a team scout’s perspective the Combine is an incredibly valuable assessment tool for showing how serious and ready these kids are for each step of their career. Also, the chance to get honest readings of physical talents without the obfuscations that college programs put on their products is important whether or not a 40 time translates to “football speed.” Anyway, here is a list of guys that I think stand to benefit a ton from a “good” combine. Continue reading…

 

Chipping Yips: Physical or Mental?

Last Friday as Tiger Woods was in the process of shooting a cataclysmic 82 in Phoenix, I opined in The Big Lead comment section I had never heard of chipping yips where I was promptly mocked. Now, most know that I’m not one to put a lot of thought into my comments prior to posting so with the benefit of a weeks worth of reflection let me restate. Continue reading…

 

Happy Football New Year!

Rivals #1 overall recruit, Byron Cowart.

It’s National Signing Day! The happy-happy-happiest day of the year for some football programs. Which is sad in its way, when you think about it. What good is a high recruiting ranking from Rivals if you don’t win a lot of games? But we don’t come here to argue about who is or is not deserving of the 5-star designation, we are here to celebrate the re-birth of the football calendar! The Super Bowl is like football Christmas, syncretically aping other sports celebrations of ancient days so that the football martyrs wouldn’t be… martyred or something. OK, the analogy doesn’t go that way. Super Bowl is the beginning of the football solstice and Signing Day is the first day of lengthening football light. OK? Right. Celebrate. Continue reading…

 

Charlie Sifford and Why His Legacy Is Limited

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post originally ran on November 20, 2014 but in honor of Charlie Sifford’s legacy we are re-publishing it today.

Charlie Sifford

Charlie Sifford

Last week, our friend @BushMush suggested a post on Charlie Sifford in light of the announcement of his honor by the White House. This was a rather obvious topic to tackle for a golf blog so I agreed immediately to do so with a guarantee of a post in our normal Thursday morning slot. That was Monday morning and after 6 or 7 re-writes, I finally conceded that whatever I had written simply wasn’t good enough and begged a postponement for a week. This space is something I do for fun. I am not trained nor do I even pretend to be a “writer” by any stretch. Thus, a post from a 43-year old white man on the legacy of Charlie Sifford in golf is absurd. To borrow from President Obama, it’s way above my pay grade. Nevertheless, there also doesn’t seem to be any reason not to try. Race relations require debate and open dialogue. Both are scarce resources in the Twitter age. What we will try to do here is rather than look at history extensively we will instead evaluate what has changed for the PGA and golf itself since Sifford broke a lesser known “color barrier.” Continue reading…