Boeheim's Point Guards | Syracusefan.com

Boeheim's Point Guards

SWC75

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Tyler Ennis is just 12 games into his freshmen year but people are always wondering where this guy fits in the pantheon of Syracuse point guards. Obviously his story is just beginning to be told so comparisons might not be fair to him or to those to whom he is being compared at this point but he’d been so good that they can’t be avoided. I thought I’d go over my memories of the point guards of the Boeheim Era. I’m not going to rank them and the SU Athletics site doesn’t have full stats going back to 1976, (maybe someday?) so I’ll only quote a few numbers. I’m just going to describe what I saw. Perhaps others will have observations of their own.

JIM “Don’t Call Me Bug” WILLIAMS

Nobody- nobody- was quicker on the dribble and nobody could go the distance from one end of the court to the other like the Bug. Nobody who saw that Era will ever forget Jim dribbling the length of the court in the last 5 seconds of regulation in the 1975 Eastern regional Finals vs. Kansas State to get the ball to Rudy Hackett who flipped in a hook shot to get us into overtime. We won and went to our first Final Four. I also remember Jim as a harassing defender who made a lot of steals and took a lot of them to score on the other end. What Jim lacked was size, (generously listed at 5-10), and a reliable outside shot. But he could score, as much as 15.3ppg in 1975-76 and 14.1 for JB’s first team the next year. He wasn’t that much of a passer, averaging no more than 3.4 assists. Lack of size in our backcourt killed us vs. UNC Charlotte in the NCAAs. Our guys were both under 6 feet, (Larry Kelly was the other guard) while Charlotte went 6-4, 6-5. We could neither shoot nor pass over their guys. It was the first time I realized height mattered in the backcourt.

“Fast” EDDIE MOSS

Fast Eddie wasn’t as fast as the Bug but he was a quick defender and was bigger than Williams at 6-2 and a better passer, (as many as 5.8 assists per game). He wasn’t much of an offensive threat himself (6.6ppg at his best), but he ran the show for consecutive 26-4 teams as a junior and senior.

GENE WALDRON

I remember Waldron as a highly touted recruit who had a disappointing career except for one single night. He was a skinny 6-3 and never averaged double figures in any season, (9.3 and 4.3 assists was his best). Much of the time, you didn’t even know he was out there. I was hoping for an All-American and we didn’t get one but he was All-World for one night against Iona when he scored 40 points to win the Carrier Classic, still the Dome record. Then he went back to being Gene Waldron. Much later he was alter a color commenter for SU basketball games with Matt Park and Matt would often joke that tonight was the night someone would break Gene’s record. We’re still waiting.

DWAYNE “Pearl” WASHINGTON

The Pearl made the Dome his oyster. He was our first #1 national recruit and was the final step from Fred Lewis to Dave Bing to our first Final Four to hiring Boeheim to the formation of the Big East, ESPN and the Carrier Dome in making this program something special. He cemented his legend by beating Boston College with a half-court shot, owning Villanova, beating Georgetown on a pull-up jumper and almost rescuing us in the BET against St. John’s and Walter Berry. He was the greatest we’ve ever had at breaking down the defense with the dribble. I used to call him “Triple No- Yes”, because, as he was coming down court and the defense was getting organized ahead of him, I kept saying “No…no…no…no…YES!” as the Pearl would find a way to get past 3-4 defenders to score. He was listed at 6-2 but could dribble closer to the ground that anybody who has ever played for us. He looked like Marques Haines at times. And he could keep going at full speed while doing it. Yet he always had his head, up looking for an opening. He was also a great passer, averaging as much as 7.8 assist a game. He could throw long, looping passes on the fast break or penetrate and dish to players like Rafael Addison, Wendell Alexis and Rony Seikaly. He had a second nick-name, “Pac-man”, (after a popular video game showing the ‘hero’ gobbling up invaders), and made the occasional big steal- he could use his low center of gravity and quick hands to get to the ball. But defense was not what he was out there for.

A lot of people expected him to score more, (he’d averaged nearly 40ppg his senior year in high school), but for two and a half years he concentrated on being a distributor, scoring only when the opportunity presented itself or when the team needed a big basket. Then, midway through his junior year Addison and Seikaly were injured and Washington had to take over the scoring load. He started scoring 25ppg. I remember Dick Vitale crowing “He’s finally living up to his potential”, not realizing that his role on the team had changed. But we ran into David Robinson and Navy, (and a team of patriotic refs), and his career here ended. He became the first SU player to jump to the pros early, which opened the way for the next guy on this list.

SHERMAN “The General” DOUGLAS

Sherman is my all-time favorite player of the Boeheim Era. When he was running the show, we were the college equivalent of the Lakers. I’m not sure anyone, including Magic Johnson, ever ran a fast break better. He had such a deft touch with the alley-oop pass that it almost seemed like a hand-off. Billy Packer used to claim the ball was so close to the cylindered that the dunks we got off of Sherman’s passes were offensive goal-tending. He became the NCAA’s all-time assist leader, (a stat that wasn’t formalized until 1983). He’s still #5 all time and his 22 assists vs. Providence in 1989 is still an SU record. Sherman also had a deadly floater, similar to Josh Pace’s. He wasn’t big, (6 feet even) but was an aggressive defender. He was famous for making clutch baskets as well. One complaint I had was that Boeheim loved to set up an isolation play at the end of halves and games for him and he was at his best when everyone was moving. He wasn’t great at beating the defense one-on-one and he was an average outside shooter at best.

He has been something of a firecracker coming off the bench in Pearl’s last year but nobody though he’d been nearly as good. His sophomore year was something like Tyler Ennis’ year so far: he was performing at a high level but people were reluctant at first to acknowledge how good he was. They tried to find weaknesses in his game that the Pearl didn’t have or claimed that he wouldn’t keep this up over the tougher completion. But he did. I was in the “He’s good but let’s not compare him to the Pearl” crowd until Sherman put up 35 points on Pitt in the BET. It finally dawned on me: this guy is even better. He’s still the gold standard for Syracuse point guards. Right now I’m thinking “Tyler Ennis is great but he’s no Sherman Douglas”. But Tyler looked better and better with each game and I may have a similar epiphany at some point this season. But for now Sherman is still “the General”.

STEVIE THOMPSON

Earl Duncan was recruited to be Sherman’s successor but didn’t want to wait and transferred to Rutgers where he had a good season as a senior, averaging 14.6ppg and 3.7 assists. We could have used him in 1989-90. We had everything else with Derrick Coleman, LeRon Ellis, Billy Owens and Stevie Thompson. That crew still wound up ranked #1 in the country for 6 weeks. JB tried Thompson at the point guard spot. Stevie could bring the ball up and get us into our offense but had no clue how to break down a defense of the dribble, no outside shot and was a lousy free throw shooter. Halfway though the season he gave up this spot to the next guy on the list and returned to his normal #2 guard slot so he could move without the ball, which was where he was at his best.

MICHAEL EDWARDS

Edwards was a small, (5-10), quick guard who had scored a lot of points in high school but was not really a big-time recruit. We needed a point guard after Duncan left and he was the best we could get. His scoring disappeared but he was a good distributor of the ball and averaged 5.2 assists, (8.5 per 40 minutes, (a figure topped by only Washington and Douglas, both of whom had 9.7 assists per 40 minutes). But he was supplanted by Adrian Autry the next season and his playing time- and performance went downhill the rest of his career. He just kind of got smaller and smaller and smaller until he disappeared.

ADRIAN AUTRY

Autry was a big-time recruit from New York City and we were glad to see him after Thompson and Edwards. But he struggled quite a bit his first two years, shooting poorly, making too many turnovers and failing to live up to the high expectations. But he found the range on his shot the last two years, averaging 13.7 and 16.7ppg while improving his shooting from 37% to 45%. He was a big guard 6-4 and strongly built. He was one of the first big point guards we had at the top of the defense. He continued to have problems with turnovers his entire career, (3.8 a game compared to 6.1 assists as a senior). He will always be remembered for the way he went out: scoring 30 points in the second half and overtime vs. Missouri in the Sweet 16 in a game we lost in overtime. He could have had 32 in a win but the refs disallowed a shot he made while flat on his back in the paint.

MICHAEL LLOYD

He was considered the top junior college player in the country and a good get for the Orange. A muscular 6-2, he was really a scoring guard more than a point but the only other point guard we had was the little-used Lazarus Sims and JB had decided to switch Lawrence Moten from small forward to big guard for his senior year. Moten was not as good farther from the basket and it might have been interesting to see what a Sims-Lloyd backcourt could do. The front line would have been John Wallace, Otis Hill and Moten with Luke Jackson as a 6th man. But Lloyd played well, averaging 12.5 points and 5.2 assists. His best game was his first, when he scored 25 second half points to carry a game against George Washington to overtime before we lost. I remember Dick Vitale castigating SU fans who were leaving early. It was the last SU men’s game played in Manley Field House, (due to a scheduling conflict with the football team). We had a chance to win “the last game at Manley”, (take that John Thompson!), but, despite Michael’s heroics, we couldn’t get it done. And Michael couldn’t get it done academically, either, and was gone after one year. He seemed talented enough to make some noise on the next level but he disappeared under the waves.

LAZARUS SIMS

A football and basketball star at Henninger High, where he led the school to state championships in both sports, Sims was another big, muscular 6-4 guard. He had very little scoring ability, (6.4ppg in his only year as a starter), and was totally lacking in any sort of flash. He just made smart plays for 38 games and gave us that size strength at the top of the zone. This was the first year that we became famous for our zone defense, which took us to the national championship game against a Kentucky team with 9 future NBA players. We were in it all the way and with about a minute to go, we were down 5 and got possession of the ball and were fast-breaking down the court. “Z” had the ball at midcourt and fired a pass to a streaking John Wallace. Unfortunately he fired it chest high and there were a couple of defenders between them. The ball got tipped and Wallace fouled out trying to get it back. If only Sims had looped the ball in front of John, he might have scored and been fouled and we are down 2 with a minute left and our star in the game. I remember thinking that it was the only mistake I’d seen Z make all year. He was that kind of player.

JASON HART

Jim Boeheim was desperate to get a good point guard to replace Sims. He offered the top three available guys that if they committed to SU, we wouldn’t recruit anybody else. I can’t remember who one guy was. I know Mateen Cleaves, who led Michigan State to the national title as a senior, was one of them. But the guy who said “Yes” was Jason Hart of Los Angeles. Then Jim Harrick, the UCLA coach, tried to get him to renege and for a brief moment he did, (there was something about a sick brother at home). But Jason decided to honor his commitment and became our point guard for the next four years.

His tenure here got off to a bad start with a blow-out loss a national championship rematch with Kentucky, (I think they’d gotten the third guy), in the great Alaska Shoot-out. This was the last JB team not to win 20 games, losing to Florida State by 15 in the first round of the NIT to finish 19-13. But he ended his career by quarterbacking one of our best teams, the one that opened with a school record 19 straight wins, (since broken by the 2011-12 team), and losing to Cleaves’ national champions in their own back yard after we’d built up a 14 point lead.

Jason’s career was kind of bumpy ride. He shot poorly his first two years, (38% and 37%, including 26% from the three point line as a sophomore). He was a good passer, (5.8apg as a freshman and 6.0 as a senior), but was not good a penetrating the defense to set things up. Fans became impatient with his constant “pounding the ball into the floor” on the perimeter. He was a very good defensive guard, (often slapping the floor and daring a player to try to get by him), and a Boeheim favorite because he fulfilled his commitment and because of a legendary work ethic. As a junior and senior his shooting improved considerably and I recall thinking he and we would be better off if he played the “2” with Alan Griffin at the point. Jason has had an extensive NBA career- as a reserve. But he played for 10 years and was paid $11,589,522, (per Basketball Reference.com) to do it.

ALAN GRIFFIN

I was always an Alan Griffin fan. He was only 6-0 but solidly built and could be explosive. He had the lowest dribble since Pearl and could penetrate and dish, which is my image of what a point guard does. He has our last triple double- 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Pittsburgh in 2001. I also remember perhaps the most spectacular block I have seen by a Syracuse player, (not the most important- the most spectacular). I recall him in the Garden against St. John’s, trailing a fast break and jumping almost to the top of the backboard to swat away a shot. That may have been the same game where he played all 50 minutes and scored 31 points in a double-overtime victory.

For some reason, he had a lot of detractors. I think it has to do with an ill-advised experiment of making him a “2” opposite Hart in his sophomore season. Griffin had no outside shot and was unproductive in that position. The next year he disappeared on the bench behind Preston Shumpert, Tony Bland and DeShaun Williams, all of whom could shoot better than he could. But as a senior he got to play his natural position: the point. He averaged 10.8 points and 6.5 assists for a team that went 9-2 in games decided by single digits, a stat that your point guard has an awful lot to do with. (They were only 16-7 in other games)

JAMES THUES

Thues is a symbol of a period when our recruiting was something of a trickle but he deserves to be better remembered than that. He was an excellent defender who played very conservatively on offense and avoided mistakes. But he wasn’t much of a shooter and was only 5-10. He got recruited over and left to return to his native Detroit to play for Detroit Mercy, which he did well.

DeSHAUN WILLIAMS

DeShaun had good size, (6-3, 202) and plenty of talent, which he displayed when he went off on Connecticut as a freshman with a barrage of threes that convinced everyone that he was going to be a superstar for us. But he didn’t like to practice and his performance declined even as his playing time increased. His shooting percentage declined form 43% to 38%, including 41% to 30.5% from the arc. His assist to turnover ratio as a junior was a poor 4.1-3.9. Nonetheless he shared the point with Thues that year because it allowed Boeheim to get freshman Hakim Warrick into the game when Williams moved from the 2 guard to the point. His career ended due to off the field problems, both academic and legal, causing him to be “asked to leave the University”. A waste of a not inconsiderable talent.

GERRY MCNAMARA

JB saw Gerry score 41 points in a high school game- in one half, against a team favored to beat GMAC’s team. He immediately wanted him and he became our starting point guard his first game as a freshman, joined by fellow freshman Carmelo Anthony. We actually lost that game to Memphis but it was the beginning two legendary careers at Syracuse- one that lasted one year, one that lasted for four years. What’s your favorite GMAC memory? Probably the 6 three pointers in the first half of the national title game vs. Kansas. But what about the 43 points a year alter against BYU? Or the tremendous run in MSG as a senior? Don’t forget buzzer-beaters vs. Georgetown and Notre Dame, (the latter the only shot he made that day- but he didn’t hesitate when it came time for the winner). How about the 28 points in the second half vs. Charlotte in the first game the year after the national title?

But he wasn’t a natural point guard. He really should have been the 2 guard with the trouble plagued Billy Edelin at the point. He was a shooter with great range and unending confidence who could get white hot for long stretches. But he never learned how to penetrate and dish like a true point guard. He was listed at 6-2 but was probably not quite 6 feet tall. He hustled but was not a great defensive player. He was a competitor and a leader but not always a smart player. I remember some bad passes and ill-advised shots. He trusted his talent and it was beautiful when it came through for him but there were also times when it wasn’t enough. But it was a great achievement to play as well as he did not in his natural position. We wouldn’t have won 103 games, two Big East Tournaments and a National Championship without him.

JOSH WRIGHT

Wright had been a high-scoring guard for Utica proctor, (33.3ppg as a senior). He was lightning-quick and a good penetrator and I was anticipating him joining GMAC in a high scoring backcourt. Josh was also listed at 6-2 but clearly wasn’t that, giving us a short back court. Josh was skinny, had a weak handle and not enough of an outside shot. He also made bad decisions both on the court and off. Nonetheless, he inherited the starting point guard spot from GMAC as a junior. But he proved unreliable and eventually Jim experimented with using Eric Devendorf at the point. Wright left school for “personal reasons” and wound up playing in Canada.

ERIC DEVENDORF

Devo was fine all-around offensive guard. He was a good outside shooter but also the best penetrator we’ve had since the Pearl. He had good size at 6-4 but could dribble close to the floor and snake his way through defenses to the hoop. He wasn’t a dunker but could score with their hand and knew how to use the glass. Desperate for an alternative to Josh Wright, JB tried him at the point late in his sophomore season. His penetrating ability helped him in that role but he just wasn’t used to distributing the ball. Besides Jonny Flynn was on the way.

JONNY FLYNN

Flynn was originally more famous as Paul Harris childhood friend and high school teammate. When we recruited Jonny I thought it was mostly to keep Paul happy. But Jonny developed as a prospect in his own right and became a better college player than Paul. He was an explosive player who could run and jump with the best of them. He loved the spectacular play, especially dunking over big men. He wasn’t big at 6-0 but played huge. He could also shoot and pass. He was also durable, playing 36 minutes a game during his career, including an incredible 67 minutes in the legendary 6 overtime game vs. Connecticut, in which he scored 34 points. After averaging 17.4 points, (more than GMAC ever did) and 6.7 assists, (ditto), as a sophomore, he jumped all the way to the NBA, where injuries have limited his career. But he was great while he was here.

BRANDON TRICHE

It’s hard to remember but Brandon Triche was our starting point guard in the first game of his freshman year. He actually shared the position with Scoop Jardine but Brandon was the starter. Brandon always insisted to everyone who would listen that he was a point guard. What he was was a jack of all trades but master of none. He could handle the ball and pass it. He could shoot from outside or drive to the basket. He could help out on the boards and play good defense. He just wasn’t great at anything. He was a very solid college guard with a big, (6-4 200+) strong body. But he was a better player at the 2 guard spot than at the point, which is why Scoop became the starter there the next season.

SCOOP JARDINE

Scoop started out as a little used reserve pressed into service due to injuries despite his own, undisclosed hairline fracture. He had a weird-looking jump shot that rarely found the target. He also had an uncle who stole a roommate’s meal card, getting Scoop suspended. He wasn’t a guy you’d expect much of.

He red-shirted and came back for the 2009-2010 as fire cracker of a back-up point guard, running all over the court like a waterbug, getting all over his man on defense, zipping through the other team to score and even hitting some jump shots. He wound up playing more minutes than Triche, contributing tremendously to a 30-5 season, our best since the national championship. The next year he became the primary point man and had a very good two year run, (10.6 points and 5.4 assists), for teams that went 61-11. As a junior and senior he seemed a bit thicker and slower than he had as a sophomore and his decision-making was sometimes questionable. He had a lot of detractors who seemed to see only his bad plays. But he was a good point guard for some of our best teams.

MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS

Waiting in the wings was a physical freak named Michael Carter-Williams. He was 6-5 with a near 7 foot wingspan. Despite his size he could penetrate the defense on the dribble. He could see the whole court and was a creative passer. And his size made him the prefect point at the top of the 2-3 zone. He was still young and learning. He got into a very public argument with the coach when he was pulled out of a game as freshman. He often penetrated too far into the defense and got trapped or jumped into the air without knowing what he was going to do when he got there. His outside shot was not reliable. He, too had his detractors, (one of them a close friend of mine). But he didn’t have a lot of productive teammates and often had to do things by himself. And he carried us on his back to the Final Four. I would like to have seen what he could have down with two more years to mature and better support from his teammates. But then we wouldn’t be watching Tyler Ennis play the point for us today.

TYLER ENNIS

Ennis has exceeded all expectations, although most people felt he was a good prospect. But he’s looked like the best point guard in the country so far. The real concern is durability. It’s a long season and we don’t have a true back up to him, although JB has been grooming Michael Gbinije, a former forward, in that role. Some people thought Tyler lacked speed but I think it’s more a case of not wanting to do things too quickly. When he sees an opportunity, he can be very quick. I will say that he seems to prefer operating in the half-court offense than running the break. But these days, you don’t get that many fast break opportunities anyway. They are exciting but they are a small percentage of the game. He could probably improve his jump shot but he can hit well enough to be a threat from there. He’s a smooth penetrator and a good passer. His major plus is that he doesn’t turn the ball over, playing 37 minutes without one even against the Villanova press. That’s amazing for any point guard but even more so for a freshman. He doesn’t have MCW’s size or long arms and will probably never be the defensive force Michael was. But he can play a basketball game like a violin and we have yet to lose with him at the helm, despite playing the toughest schedule in the country so far.

If he keeps playing like this, (and why wouldn’t he?), he’s going to rank with anyone on this list.
 
Great post. I could be wrong but I believe Shaheen Holloway was the other guard we offered with the Hart first come-first served deal. Went to Seton Hall, still coaching there.
 
Great post. I could be wrong but I believe Shaheen Holloway was the other guard we offered with the Hart first come-first served deal. Went to Seton Hall, still coaching there.



I think we also offered Talik Brown,who ended up at UConn and Omar Cook, the malcontent who went to the Johnnies.
 
Great post. I could be wrong but I believe Shaheen Holloway was the other guard we offered with the Hart first come-first served deal. Went to Seton Hall, still coaching there.
I've met Shaheen a few times. He's should make a great head coach some day.
 
Just when I think I know my Cuse history well, having lived through it much of it, along comes a post like this to set me straight. Was fun reading this and recalling tidbits I'd forgotten. Watching Stevie and Sherm was breathtaking...well watching most of these guys was and Tyler appears to truly belong high on the list...is early yet but, dang, he is so fun to watch-- is the player every coach tries to form.
 
Great post.
I find it difficult to believe that anyone will EVER surpass Douglass for making the outlet and/or alley opp pass seem effortless, that and his football hike pass
 
The year we got Josh Wright I believe JB also offered Kyle Lowery (now with the Raptors and a rumored trade target of the Knicks) and Talik Brown. Lowery wanted SU over Nova but Wright committed first. Ugh! That didn't work out well for us.
 
Amazing! Spot on with your analysis going all the way back to the 70's. I'll add a few random memories from way back then:

Bug Williams: Didn't shoot lay-ups. Turned what would normally be lay-ups into one-foot jumpshots.

Really liked Waldron as a point guard but wanted to take his life after he missed short-range shots to win in regulation and tie in overtime in the NIT championship in '81.
 
I remember them all and a few before them (back to Ernie Austin), but Sherman will always be the man.

Great synopsis SWC,

Dennis DuVal " Sweet D". Pre-Boeheim.. also a fine PG.
 
A nice list, but some good ones - Rautins, Hopkins, Headd, Roe, Brown, and Duany - got away with nearly a mention. Also, although he did get a mention, I think Billy Edelin deserved his own space.
 
After Austin came Tommy Green, who once let me borrow his Converse All-Stars for an intra-mural game after mine had been stolen from the wire basket in the men's gym by someone with wire cutters.
 
Yes Sherm was awesome. I still would have loved to see what Pearl could have done with a DC on the court.
 
Tyler Ennis is just 12 games into his freshmen year but people are always wondering where this guy fits in the pantheon of Syracuse point guards. Obviously his story is just beginning to be told so comparisons might not be fair to him or to those to whom he is being compared at this point but he’d been so good that they can’t be avoided. I thought I’d go over my memories of the point guards of the Boeheim Era. I’m not going to rank them and the SU Athletics site doesn’t have full stats going back to 1976, (maybe someday?) so I’ll only quote a few numbers. I’m just going to describe what I saw. Perhaps others will have observations of their own.

JIM “Don’t Call Me Bug” WILLIAMS

Nobody- nobody- was quicker on the dribble and nobody could go the distance from one end of the court to the other like the Bug. Nobody who saw that Era will ever forget Jim dribbling the length of the court in the last 5 seconds of regulation in the 1975 Eastern regional Finals vs. Kansas State to get the ball to Rudy Hackett who flipped in a hook shot to get us into overtime. We won and went to our first Final Four. I also remember Jim as a harassing defender who made a lot of steals and took a lot of them to score on the other end. What Jim lacked was size, (generously listed at 5-10), and a reliable outside shot. But he could score, as much as 15.3ppg in 1975-76 and 14.1 for JB’s first team the next year. He wasn’t that much of a passer, averaging no more than 3.4 assists. Lack of size in our backcourt killed us vs. UNC Charlotte in the NCAAs. Our guys were both under 6 feet, (Larry Kelly was the other guard) while Charlotte went 6-4, 6-5. We could neither shoot nor pass over their guys. It was the first time I realized height mattered in the backcourt.

“Fast” EDDIE MOSS

Fast Eddie wasn’t as fast as the Bug but he was a quick defender and was bigger than Williams at 6-2 and a better passer, (as many as 5.8 assists per game). He wasn’t much of an offensive threat himself (6.6ppg at his best), but he ran the show for consecutive 26-4 teams as a junior and senior.

GENE WALDRON

I remember Waldron as a highly touted recruit who had a disappointing career except for one single night. He was a skinny 6-3 and never averaged double figures in any season, (9.3 and 4.3 assists was his best). Much of the time, you didn’t even know he was out there. I was hoping for an All-American and we didn’t get one but he was All-World for one night against Iona when he scored 40 points to win the Carrier Classic, still the Dome record. Then he went back to being Gene Waldron. Much later he was alter a color commenter for SU basketball games with Matt Park and Matt would often joke that tonight was the night someone would break Gene’s record. We’re still waiting.

DWAYNE “Pearl” WASHINGTON

The Pearl made the Dome his oyster. He was our first #1 national recruit and was the final step from Fred Lewis to Dave Bing to our first Final Four to hiring Boeheim to the formation of the Big East, ESPN and the Carrier Dome in making this program something special. He cemented his legend by beating Boston College with a half-court shot, owning Villanova, beating Georgetown on a pull-up jumper and almost rescuing us in the BET against St. John’s and Walter Berry. He was the greatest we’ve ever had at breaking down the defense with the dribble. I used to call him “Triple No- Yes”, because, as he was coming down court and the defense was getting organized ahead of him, I kept saying “No…no…no…no…YES!” as the Pearl would find a way to get past 3-4 defenders to score. He was listed at 6-2 but could dribble closer to the ground that anybody who has ever played for us. He looked like Marques Haines at times. And he could keep going at full speed while doing it. Yet he always had his head, up looking for an opening. He was also a great passer, averaging as much as 7.8 assist a game. He could throw long, looping passes on the fast break or penetrate and dish to players like Rafael Addison, Wendell Alexis and Rony Seikaly. He had a second nick-name, “Pac-man”, (after a popular video game showing the ‘hero’ gobbling up invaders), and made the occasional big steal- he could use his low center of gravity and quick hands to get to the ball. But defense was not what he was out there for.

A lot of people expected him to score more, (he’d averaged nearly 40ppg his senior year in high school), but for two and a half years he concentrated on being a distributor, scoring only when the opportunity presented itself or when the team needed a big basket. Then, midway through his junior year Addison and Seikaly were injured and Washington had to take over the scoring load. He started scoring 25ppg. I remember Dick Vitale crowing “He’s finally living up to his potential”, not realizing that his role on the team had changed. But we ran into David Robinson and Navy, (and a team of patriotic refs), and his career here ended. He became the first SU player to jump to the pros early, which opened the way for the next guy on this list.

SHERMAN “The General” DOUGLAS

Sherman is my all-time favorite player of the Boeheim Era. When he was running the show, we were the college equivalent of the Lakers. I’m not sure anyone, including Magic Johnson, ever ran a fast break better. He had such a deft touch with the alley-oop pass that it almost seemed like a hand-off. Billy Packer used to claim the ball was so close to the cylindered that the dunks we got off of Sherman’s passes were offensive goal-tending. He became the NCAA’s all-time assist leader, (a stat that wasn’t formalized until 1983). He’s still #5 all time and his 22 assists vs. Providence in 1989 is still an SU record. Sherman also had a deadly floater, similar to Josh Pace’s. He wasn’t big, (6 feet even) but was an aggressive defender. He was famous for making clutch baskets as well. One complaint I had was that Boeheim loved to set up an isolation play at the end of halves and games for him and he was at his best when everyone was moving. He wasn’t great at beating the defense one-on-one and he was an average outside shooter at best.

He has been something of a firecracker coming off the bench in Pearl’s last year but nobody though he’d been nearly as good. His sophomore year was something like Tyler Ennis’ year so far: he was performing at a high level but people were reluctant at first to acknowledge how good he was. They tried to find weaknesses in his game that the Pearl didn’t have or claimed that he wouldn’t keep this up over the tougher completion. But he did. I was in the “He’s good but let’s not compare him to the Pearl” crowd until Sherman put up 35 points on Pitt in the BET. It finally dawned on me: this guy is even better. He’s still the gold standard for Syracuse point guards. Right now I’m thinking “Tyler Ennis is great but he’s no Sherman Douglas”. But Tyler looked better and better with each game and I may have a similar epiphany at some point this season. But for now Sherman is still “the General”.

STEVIE THOMPSON

Earl Duncan was recruited to be Sherman’s successor but didn’t want to wait and transferred to Rutgers where he had a good season as a senior, averaging 14.6ppg and 3.7 assists. We could have used him in 1989-90. We had everything else with Derrick Coleman, LeRon Ellis, Billy Owens and Stevie Thompson. That crew still wound up ranked #1 in the country for 6 weeks. JB tried Thompson at the point guard spot. Stevie could bring the ball up and get us into our offense but had no clue how to break down a defense of the dribble, no outside shot and was a lousy free throw shooter. Halfway though the season he gave up this spot to the next guy on the list and returned to his normal #2 guard slot so he could move without the ball, which was where he was at his best.

MICHAEL EDWARDS

Edwards was a small, (5-10), quick guard who had scored a lot of points in high school but was not really a big-time recruit. We needed a point guard after Duncan left and he was the best we could get. His scoring disappeared but he was a good distributor of the ball and averaged 5.2 assists, (8.5 per 40 minutes, (a figure topped by only Washington and Douglas, both of whom had 9.7 assists per 40 minutes). But he was supplanted by Adrian Autry the next season and his playing time- and performance went downhill the rest of his career. He just kind of got smaller and smaller and smaller until he disappeared.

ADRIAN AUTRY

Autry was a big-time recruit from New York City and we were glad to see him after Thompson and Edwards. But he struggled quite a bit his first two years, shooting poorly, making too many turnovers and failing to live up to the high expectations. But he found the range on his shot the last two years, averaging 13.7 and 16.7ppg while improving his shooting from 37% to 45%. He was a big guard 6-4 and strongly built. He was one of the first big point guards we had at the top of the defense. He continued to have problems with turnovers his entire career, (3.8 a game compared to 6.1 assists as a senior). He will always be remembered for the way he went out: scoring 30 points in the second half and overtime vs. Missouri in the Sweet 16 in a game we lost in overtime. He could have had 32 in a win but the refs disallowed a shot he made while flat on his back in the paint.

MICHAEL LLOYD

He was considered the top junior college player in the country and a good get for the Orange. A muscular 6-2, he was really a scoring guard more than a point but the only other point guard we had was the little-used Lazarus Sims and JB had decided to switch Lawrence Moten from small forward to big guard for his senior year. Moten was not as good farther from the basket and it might have been interesting to see what a Sims-Lloyd backcourt could do. The front line would have been John Wallace, Otis Hill and Moten with Luke Jackson as a 6th man. But Lloyd played well, averaging 12.5 points and 5.2 assists. His best game was his first, when he scored 25 second half points to carry a game against George Washington to overtime before we lost. I remember Dick Vitale castigating SU fans who were leaving early. It was the last SU men’s game played in Manley Field House, (due to a scheduling conflict with the football team). We had a chance to win “the last game at Manley”, (take that John Thompson!), but, despite Michael’s heroics, we couldn’t get it done. And Michael couldn’t get it done academically, either, and was gone after one year. He seemed talented enough to make some noise on the next level but he disappeared under the waves.

LAZARUS SIMS

A football and basketball star at Henninger High, where he led the school to state championships in both sports, Sims was another big, muscular 6-4 guard. He had very little scoring ability, (6.4ppg in his only year as a starter), and was totally lacking in any sort of flash. He just made smart plays for 38 games and gave us that size strength at the top of the zone. This was the first year that we became famous for our zone defense, which took us to the national championship game against a Kentucky team with 9 future NBA players. We were in it all the way and with about a minute to go, we were down 5 and got possession of the ball and were fast-breaking down the court. “Z” had the ball at midcourt and fired a pass to a streaking John Wallace. Unfortunately he fired it chest high and there were a couple of defenders between them. The ball got tipped and Wallace fouled out trying to get it back. If only Sims had looped the ball in front of John, he might have scored and been fouled and we are down 2 with a minute left and our star in the game. I remember thinking that it was the only mistake I’d seen Z make all year. He was that kind of player.

JASON HART

Jim Boeheim was desperate to get a good point guard to replace Sims. He offered the top three available guys that if they committed to SU, we wouldn’t recruit anybody else. I can’t remember who one guy was. I know Mateen Cleaves, who led Michigan State to the national title as a senior, was one of them. But the guy who said “Yes” was Jason Hart of Los Angeles. Then Jim Harrick, the UCLA coach, tried to get him to renege and for a brief moment he did, (there was something about a sick brother at home). But Jason decided to honor his commitment and became our point guard for the next four years.

His tenure here got off to a bad start with a blow-out loss a national championship rematch with Kentucky, (I think they’d gotten the third guy), in the great Alaska Shoot-out. This was the last JB team not to win 20 games, losing to Florida State by 15 in the first round of the NIT to finish 19-13. But he ended his career by quarterbacking one of our best teams, the one that opened with a school record 19 straight wins, (since broken by the 2011-12 team), and losing to Cleaves’ national champions in their own back yard after we’d built up a 14 point lead.

Jason’s career was kind of bumpy ride. He shot poorly his first two years, (38% and 37%, including 26% from the three point line as a sophomore). He was a good passer, (5.8apg as a freshman and 6.0 as a senior), but was not good a penetrating the defense to set things up. Fans became impatient with his constant “pounding the ball into the floor” on the perimeter. He was a very good defensive guard, (often slapping the floor and daring a player to try to get by him), and a Boeheim favorite because he fulfilled his commitment and because of a legendary work ethic. As a junior and senior his shooting improved considerably and I recall thinking he and we would be better off if he played the “2” with Alan Griffin at the point. Jason has had an extensive NBA career- as a reserve. But he played for 10 years and was paid $11,589,522, (per Basketball Reference.com) to do it.

ALAN GRIFFIN

I was always an Alan Griffin fan. He was only 6-0 but solidly built and could be explosive. He had the lowest dribble since Pearl and could penetrate and dish, which is my image of what a point guard does. He has our last triple double- 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Pittsburgh in 2001. I also remember perhaps the most spectacular block I have seen by a Syracuse player, (not the most important- the most spectacular). I recall him in the Garden against St. John’s, trailing a fast break and jumping almost to the top of the backboard to swat away a shot. That may have been the same game where he played all 50 minutes and scored 31 points in a double-overtime victory.

For some reason, he had a lot of detractors. I think it has to do with an ill-advised experiment of making him a “2” opposite Hart in his sophomore season. Griffin had no outside shot and was unproductive in that position. The next year he disappeared on the bench behind Preston Shumpert, Tony Bland and DeShaun Williams, all of whom could shoot better than he could. But as a senior he got to play his natural position: the point. He averaged 10.8 points and 6.5 assists for a team that went 9-2 in games decided by single digits, a stat that your point guard has an awful lot to do with. (They were only 16-7 in other games)

JAMES THUES

Thues is a symbol of a period when our recruiting was something of a trickle but he deserves to be better remembered than that. He was an excellent defender who played very conservatively on offense and avoided mistakes. But he wasn’t much of a shooter and was only 5-10. He got recruited over and left to return to his native Detroit to play for Detroit Mercy, which he did well.

DeSHAUN WILLIAMS

DeShaun had good size, (6-3, 202) and plenty of talent, which he displayed when he went off on Connecticut as a freshman with a barrage of threes that convinced everyone that he was going to be a superstar for us. But he didn’t like to practice and his performance declined even as his playing time increased. His shooting percentage declined form 43% to 38%, including 41% to 30.5% from the arc. His assist to turnover ratio as a junior was a poor 4.1-3.9. Nonetheless he shared the point with Thues that year because it allowed Boeheim to get freshman Hakim Warrick into the game when Williams moved from the 2 guard to the point. His career ended due to off the field problems, both academic and legal, causing him to be “asked to leave the University”. A waste of a not inconsiderable talent.

GERRY MCNAMARA

JB saw Gerry score 41 points in a high school game- in one half, against a team favored to beat GMAC’s team. He immediately wanted him and he became our starting point guard his first game as a freshman, joined by fellow freshman Carmelo Anthony. We actually lost that game to Memphis but it was the beginning two legendary careers at Syracuse- one that lasted one year, one that lasted for four years. What’s your favorite GMAC memory? Probably the 6 three pointers in the first half of the national title game vs. Kansas. But what about the 43 points a year alter against BYU? Or the tremendous run in MSG as a senior? Don’t forget buzzer-beaters vs. Georgetown and Notre Dame, (the latter the only shot he made that day- but he didn’t hesitate when it came time for the winner). How about the 28 points in the second half vs. Charlotte in the first game the year after the national title?

But he wasn’t a natural point guard. He really should have been the 2 guard with the trouble plagued Billy Edelin at the point. He was a shooter with great range and unending confidence who could get white hot for long stretches. But he never learned how to penetrate and dish like a true point guard. He was listed at 6-2 but was probably not quite 6 feet tall. He hustled but was not a great defensive player. He was a competitor and a leader but not always a smart player. I remember some bad passes and ill-advised shots. He trusted his talent and it was beautiful when it came through for him but there were also times when it wasn’t enough. But it was a great achievement to play as well as he did not in his natural position. We wouldn’t have won 103 games, two Big East Tournaments and a National Championship without him.

JOSH WRIGHT

Wright had been a high-scoring guard for Utica proctor, (33.3ppg as a senior). He was lightning-quick and a good penetrator and I was anticipating him joining GMAC in a high scoring backcourt. Josh was also listed at 6-2 but clearly wasn’t that, giving us a short back court. Josh was skinny, had a weak handle and not enough of an outside shot. He also made bad decisions both on the court and off. Nonetheless, he inherited the starting point guard spot from GMAC as a junior. But he proved unreliable and eventually Jim experimented with using Eric Devendorf at the point. Wright left school for “personal reasons” and wound up playing in Canada.

ERIC DEVENDORF

Devo was fine all-around offensive guard. He was a good outside shooter but also the best penetrator we’ve had since the Pearl. He had good size at 6-4 but could dribble close to the floor and snake his way through defenses to the hoop. He wasn’t a dunker but could score with their hand and knew how to use the glass. Desperate for an alternative to Josh Wright, JB tried him at the point late in his sophomore season. His penetrating ability helped him in that role but he just wasn’t used to distributing the ball. Besides Jonny Flynn was on the way.

JONNY FLYNN

Flynn was originally more famous as Paul Harris childhood friend and high school teammate. When we recruited Jonny I thought it was mostly to keep Paul happy. But Jonny developed as a prospect in his own right and became a better college player than Paul. He was an explosive player who could run and jump with the best of them. He loved the spectacular play, especially dunking over big men. He wasn’t big at 6-0 but played huge. He could also shoot and pass. He was also durable, playing 36 minutes a game during his career, including an incredible 67 minutes in the legendary 6 overtime game vs. Connecticut, in which he scored 34 points. After averaging 17.4 points, (more than GMAC ever did) and 6.7 assists, (ditto), as a sophomore, he jumped all the way to the NBA, where injuries have limited his career. But he was great while he was here.

BRANDON TRICHE

It’s hard to remember but Brandon Triche was our starting point guard in the first game of his freshman year. He actually shared the position with Scoop Jardine but Brandon was the starter. Brandon always insisted to everyone who would listen that he was a point guard. What he was was a jack of all trades but master of none. He could handle the ball and pass it. He could shoot from outside or drive to the basket. He could help out on the boards and play good defense. He just wasn’t great at anything. He was a very solid college guard with a big, (6-4 200+) strong body. But he was a better player at the 2 guard spot than at the point, which is why Scoop became the starter there the next season.

SCOOP JARDINE

Scoop started out as a little used reserve pressed into service due to injuries despite his own, undisclosed hairline fracture. He had a weird-looking jump shot that rarely found the target. He also had an uncle who stole a roommate’s meal card, getting Scoop suspended. He wasn’t a guy you’d expect much of.

He red-shirted and came back for the 2009-2010 as fire cracker of a back-up point guard, running all over the court like a waterbug, getting all over his man on defense, zipping through the other team to score and even hitting some jump shots. He wound up playing more minutes than Triche, contributing tremendously to a 30-5 season, our best since the national championship. The next year he became the primary point man and had a very good two year run, (10.6 points and 5.4 assists), for teams that went 61-11. As a junior and senior he seemed a bit thicker and slower than he had as a sophomore and his decision-making was sometimes questionable. He had a lot of detractors who seemed to see only his bad plays. But he was a good point guard for some of our best teams.

MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS

Waiting in the wings was a physical freak named Michael Carter-Williams. He was 6-5 with a near 7 foot wingspan. Despite his size he could penetrate the defense on the dribble. He could see the whole court and was a creative passer. And his size made him the prefect point at the top of the 2-3 zone. He was still young and learning. He got into a very public argument with the coach when he was pulled out of a game as freshman. He often penetrated too far into the defense and got trapped or jumped into the air without knowing what he was going to do when he got there. His outside shot was not reliable. He, too had his detractors, (one of them a close friend of mine). But he didn’t have a lot of productive teammates and often had to do things by himself. And he carried us on his back to the Final Four. I would like to have seen what he could have down with two more years to mature and better support from his teammates. But then we wouldn’t be watching Tyler Ennis play the point for us today.

TYLER ENNIS

Ennis has exceeded all expectations, although most people felt he was a good prospect. But he’s looked like the best point guard in the country so far. The real concern is durability. It’s a long season and we don’t have a true back up to him, although JB has been grooming Michael Gbinije, a former forward, in that role. Some people thought Tyler lacked speed but I think it’s more a case of not wanting to do things too quickly. When he sees an opportunity, he can be very quick. I will say that he seems to prefer operating in the half-court offense than running the break. But these days, you don’t get that many fast break opportunities anyway. They are exciting but they are a small percentage of the game. He could probably improve his jump shot but he can hit well enough to be a threat from there. He’s a smooth penetrator and a good passer. His major plus is that he doesn’t turn the ball over, playing 37 minutes without one even against the Villanova press. That’s amazing for any point guard but even more so for a freshman. He doesn’t have MCW’s size or long arms and will probably never be the defensive force Michael was. But he can play a basketball game like a violin and we have yet to lose with him at the helm, despite playing the toughest schedule in the country so far.

If he keeps playing like this, (and why wouldn’t he?), he’s going to rank with anyone on this list.
Good lord, what an incredible post. Do you actually remember all this stuff or did you do some research? I'm in awe!
 
You are right- I missed Edelin, even though I mentioned him.

Billy was like a mongoose- back and forth, back and forth, backing his man down to the basket until he could go up over them and score. He was strong and could help with the rebounding. And he was another big body at the top of the zone. But the pace was very slow. he was strictly a half-court man. And, while his floater in the lane was good, he wasn't much of a shooter. And, of course, had off-the court problems that kept him off the court. But if he could have been our point guard, it would have allowed GMAC to concentrate on what he does best.
 
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After Austin came Tommy Green, who once let me borrow his Converse All-Stars for an intra-mural game after mine had been stolen from the wire basket in the men's gym by someone with wire cutters.

Green and Austin actually played together. We should have had a line-up in 1968-69 of 6-8 Wayne Ward, 6-11 Bill Smith and 6-7 Bob McDaniel up front, (huge for that time) with Green and Austin in the back court. That could have been one of the best teams in the country- maybe today. But Ward took up robbery as hobby and McDaniel and Austin got in academic trouble and we went 9-16, our last losing record.
 
A nice list, but some good ones - Rautins, Hopkins, Headd, Roe, Brown, and Duany - got away with nearly a mention. Also, although he did get a mention, I think Billy Edelin deserved his own space.


Rautins, Hopkins, Headd, Roe, brown and Duany were not point guards. But Edelin was and I have correct that above.
 

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