Top Ten -- senior seasons the past 25 years

billsin01

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#1
Got thinking about Frank (even more so than Chuckwu) the other day and wondering if he could potentially put a nice leap together as a senior. I wouldn't expect a huge numbers increase or for him to all of a sudden make all the right decisions, but cut down on TOs, up the shooting % and overall efficiency and all of a sudden you have a pretty impressive senior.

Anyway, it got me thinking about all the special senior seasons we've gotten to witness as Cuse fans through the years. So I decided to try and rank out the top 10 senior seasons for the past 25 years with the following caveats in mind:

1) It's completely arbitrary so if you hate where someone is ranked, feel free to flip out.

2) I'm not a huge fan of advanced basketball metrics b/c I really think you can tell a ton from the traditional numbers. if people want to make advanced metrics arguments about what an idiot I am, however, I'm good with that.

3) You get extra credit for being on a good team -- Rak, White, Shump and Nichols get hurt by this the most and, to be honest, it's probably not really fair to those guys. But I also think a truly great season should reflect the team's record to at least a slight degree.

So first -- honorable mentions and notable omissions

Honorable mentions: Onuaku (unstoppable in the post), Sims (7.4 assists/game in an excellent senior year), Damone and Josh Pace (his versatility was huge). Edit: Realized I never went back and finished this list once I finalized the top 10. So, for good measure, I need to add Rak (17.5 and 9), RJ (13 and 11), Shump (20.7 and 6).

Notable omissions (good players but either didn't fit criteria or didn't have huge senior seasons): Burgan, KJo (better as a soph), Hart (never really had great numbers), Devo (not really a traditional senior year), Wes (not really a senior), Triche (numbers got worse each year)/.

So with that said, here we go (in reverse order):

10. Andrew White (16-17) -- 18.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg; 44/83/40 -- 19-15, NIT 2nd rd; All-ACC 3rd Team
White ends up on a truly dysfunctional team for half the season and his season is largely one-dimensional but a couple things should be mentioned here. Kid came in and had to learn the defense and then was mis-cast as a 2 for a chunk of the year. They move him to the 3 and, in my mind, he was solid defensively by the time the latter portion of the ACC sked rolled around. Also, I'm not sure I remember anyone who actually played better against tougher competition in ACC/Big East play. Dude's numbers in conference -- 20 ppg, 45/88/41. Take out a couple clunkers vs. Duke and Louisville and the numbers are even better. Really a phenomenal offensive player. Hard to put him higher though given the record as well as the weird makeup of the team where his alpha dog qualities seemed to sort of marginalize Lydon (this still baffles me).

9. Demetris Nichols (06-07) -- 19 ppg, 5.5 rpg; 45/85/42 shooting -- 24-11 NIT quarterfinals; First Team All-BE
Nichols is unquestionably hurt by playing on one of the weirder Cuse teams in this era. Devendorf is solid and Rautins has promise but is still figuring it out. Other than that? Watkins is good defender but brings zero to the table offensively, Roberts works hard but has huge holes in his game, Harris was a huge recruit but struggles to find his role at this level and Josh Wright was, well, Josh Wright. The other knock, IMO, is that Nichols' year is a bit one-dimensional. Never became an impact defender and never was much of a rebounder. Having said that, phenomenally consistent offensive year and a first-team all BE nod is pretty impressive.

8. Gmac (05-06) -- 16 ppg, 6 apg, 3 rpg; 35/90/33 -- 23-12, BET champs; BET MVP
Tough to rank GMac's senior season b/c the raw numbers aren't great. But then you've got the fact that he literally owned the BET for a week by hitting big shots for the entire tourney and we wind up with a second straight BET title. That's pretty sick. The other thing to think about here: If GMac doesn't go off in NYC, we would have had a first-round NCAA exit followed by three straight NIT teams. It's hard to overstate just how phenomenal that tourney run was AND how desperately we needed it (given the next couple years).

7. Etan Thomas (99-00) -- 13.6, 9 rpg, 3 bpg; 61% FG, 67% FT -- 26-6, regular season BE champs, Sweet 16
Etan's numbers aren't eye-popping, but his 3 blks a game is crazy and this was a really good team that just had the misfortune of drawing MSU in the sweet 16. Not crazy to think they could have a round or two deeper with a different draw. Regardless, Etan set the standard (IMO) as the center of the zone and while I know some like Watkins or Fab, he's the guy I'd run with as the ideal center for this defense. Very efficient down low too and improved a ton in five years.

6. Gbinije (15-16) -- 17.5 ppg, 4 apg, 4 rpg; 46/66/39; 71 steals -- 23-14, Final Four
G is tough to rank, IMO, b/c his numbers are outstanding and he did an admirable job playing the point out of desperation. Having said that it was a pretty brutal season for this team until the surprise inclusion in the tourney and then the 4-win run in the dance. G was a really, really good player for us but I'd argue the story of our run in the postseason was more attributable to MSU getting upset, Roberson playing like a man possessed and Mali going absolutely crazy vs. UVA. So need to give G a ton of credit for an excellent and consistent senior campaign and being a big part of a deep run, but ultimately I'm guessing I may have him a bit lower than some other folks.

5. Autry (93-94) -- 17 ppg, 6 apg, 5 rpg; 45/78/37; Sweet 16, First-team All BE
Red had frustrating career at times and this team was pretty talented (Wallace, Luke Jackson, Moten, Hill, Reafsnyder) and even this year was a little up and down with 115 turnovers (always a problem for Red). But still, those are really solid numbers and this team found itself in the sweet 16 with a tough loss to a loaded Mizzou team. As good as Moten and Wallace were, Red was the guy who ran the team and he was really good in that role and he got the nod on All-BE first team, which is pretty crazy in this era.

4. Moten (94-95) -- 19.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4 rpg; 46/74/33; NCAA second round; 20-10; All BE 1st Team
Moten's raw numbers are good, not great, but dude was a scoring machine and despite clearly being the target of every defense we played by this time, he still just kept scoring. I knock him slightly for this team underachieving a bit -- Wallace/Jackson/Lloyd/Moten feels like it should have beenmore like the team that started 14-1 than the team that lost 9 of it's next 15. But ultimately first team all-BE is tough to ignore.

3. Rautins (09-10) -- 12 ppg, 5 apg, 3.4 rpg; 44/81.5/41; 2 steals/game Sweet 16, 3rd team all BE, regular season BE champs, Third-team All BE
So I'm a huge Rautins fan and, quite frankly, I know people will hate this. But this team was third in offensive rating and 33rd (out of 341 teams) in defensive rating making them, for my money, the best team we've had since the title team in '03 and those two teams (along with maybe 11-12) were the best teams since the glory days of the late 80s. They were nasty on both ends of the floor and a lot of that started with Rautins who was the best defender, a super creative passer who was always looking to push tempo, and a guy who could impact a game without ever scoring. Oh, and he made 41% from three and hit some huge shots. I have no idea if it's true but I'll always believe they win the title with a healthy Arinze.

2. Hak (04-05) -- 21.4 ppg, 9 rpg; 55% FG/68% FT; BET MVP, BE POY; won BET, lost to UVM in rd 1
So a couple things -- the UVM loss is a killer and i could see some arguing that it should reflect more in Hak's ranking, but dude was a complete stud all year and this team won a BET tourney which, being sort of old school, I still love. He was also BE POY, which was huge as well. Just a consistently dominating season that could have made a push for no. 1 if there was more postseason success.

1. Wallace (95-96) -- 22 ppg, 9 rpg; 49/76/42; Reached title game; first team All BE
The numbers speak for themselves to a large extent as Wallace was obviously ridiculous. Led the team in scoring in 30 of 38 games. But his spot on this list is cemented by the tourney run. Put up 18 in the blowout against montana state, then 18 and 7 with five assists and five blks against Drexel. The huge pass to Cipolla against Georgia, followed by the huge 3 to win it. Finished that game with 30 and 15. 15 and 9 in a not great game against KU but then had 21 against MSU. Also put up 29 and 10 against a completely stacked UK team in the final. Crazy run and huge season.
 
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jordoo

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#2
Thanks for taking the time and taking me down memory lane. I remember that last tourney game for Red where he went nuts trying to will us to a win down the stretch.

No issue with Rautins as he may have been our MVP that season. I believe we win with a healthy AO. You could argue that Andy is too high but he certainly belongs on the list IMO

Wow I’d have to revisit numbers but big Rick and Rak had excellent senior campaigns. I think Rak could be top5.
 

billsin01

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#4
Thanks for taking the time and taking me down memory lane. I remember that last tourney game for Red where he went nuts trying to will us to a win down the stretch.

No issue with Rautins as he may have been our MVP that season. I believe we win with a healthy AO. You could argue that Andy is too high but he certainly belongs on the list IMO

Wow I’d have to revisit numbers but big Rick and Rak had excellent senior campaigns. I think Rak could be top5.
Meant to mention RJ and Rak in honorable mention. Tough omissions. RJ as a two-way stud and Rak as a consistent force on a pretty bad team are two pretty ridiculous seasons. I’d have them with a really good year from Damone and a solid season from CJ in a team that won 28 games. Southerland had a sneaky good senior season too for a final four team.
 

MSOrange

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#5
Meant to mention RJ and Rak in honorable mention. Tough omissions. RJ as a two-way stud and Rak as a consistent force on a pretty bad team are two pretty ridiculous seasons. I’d have them with a really good year from Damone and a solid season from CJ in a team that won 28 games. Southerland had a sneaky good senior season too for a final four team.
Really good discussion as usual bill. I have to think Rak belongs on that list. He might have kept the winning seasons streak alive pretty much all by himself that year.
 
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#6
Scoop senior year gets a little short changed I think because of how evenly spread the guard minutes were.

In 25 mins a game he shot 47% FG and 38% 3pt with 5 assists and 1.5 steals with only 2.4 TOs. (Adjusts to 14pts and 8 assists per 40). We know the lack of minutes had more to due with depth than any issues he had that year.

If we are adjusting ranking based on team success, he has to get some credit for the best regular season ever right?
 

billsin01

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#9
Scoop senior year gets a little short changed I think because of how evenly spread the guard minutes were.

In 25 mins a game he shot 47% FG and 38% 3pt with 5 assists and 1.5 steals with only 2.4 TOs. (Adjusts to 14pts and 8 assists per 40). We know the lack of minutes had more to due with depth than any issues he had that year.

If we are adjusting ranking based on team success, he has to get some credit for the best regular season ever right?
Yes, I'm with you on Scoop. I always liked him -- even the frustrating junior year Scoop to me was more a matter of being put into a spot where he was the one who had to make a play at the end of the clock all the time. I just feel like the minutes were a little short to be included with the rest of the guys on this list, but I'd say that's a top 20 senior season potentially (11-15 would probably be Damone, Shump, Rak, Fair and RJ in some order and be tempted to add Sims, Pace and Onuaku to that group along with Southerland. Then you get into the Scoop and Duany range as well as maybe a player like Allen Griffin. Fun exercise).
 

billsin01

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#10
Thanks for taking the time and taking me down memory lane. I remember that last tourney game for Red where he went nuts trying to will us to a win down the stretch.

No issue with Rautins as he may have been our MVP that season. I believe we win with a healthy AO. You could argue that Andy is too high but he certainly belongs on the list IMO

Wow I’d have to revisit numbers but big Rick and Rak had excellent senior campaigns. I think Rak could be top5.
So two things:

1. Autry's final game is one of the best individual efforts I can remember a cuse player having. Really is the thing that gets him in the top five for me (along with the fact that he was a guard grabbing 5 boards a game, which helps).

2. I don't personally see Rak in the top 5 but the back 5 is tough on this list. I see the argument for Rak in the top 10 though. For me it comes down to Rak vs. Nichols for 10. Here's why:

-- G had similar numbers to Rak on a final four team
-- Etan was such an impactful presence on the defensive end and still really solid on the glass and in the paint on offense and that team won the regular season BE title
-- GMac has the iconic BET run. I get it, numbers are what they are and that team was incredibly frustrating, but that four-day run in NYC was unbelievable.
-- White's ACC numbers are incredible -- 20 ppg on 45/88/41

So for me, at least, at 10, I'm impressed with Nichols b/c the numbers were unreal but they ended up NIT so I could see Rak being a good candidate to make an argument for here.

Shump too, by the way, is a scratched cornea and issue with Deshaun away from being higher on this list.
 

NYCorange

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#11
Really nice list. I just don't see Andrew White as belonging on this list (MAYBE in the honorable mentions). If you swap his place on the team out with Rak, or Pace, scoop, triche, or Rick Jackson we win more games and make the tournament. White played hard for us and I'm a big fan, but he gave back nearly as many points as he scored with his lost defense (not entirely his fault as it was his first year in the zone) and undersized rebounding. What's more, his scoring was the result of him jacking shots extremely aggressively. He was efficient and good at it, but his scoring didn't help the rest of the teams offense much in my opinion, and we didn't need his offense as much as we needed a player to just defend, rebound and play team ball. Lydon, Battle, and Gillon could have handled the scoring just fine.

Also, I think cj fair deserves at least honorable mention, for scoring, defense and veteran saavy on a team that went 28-6 and won it's first 25 games in cuses first season in the ACC.
 
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#12
6. Gbinije (15-16) -- 17.5 ppg, 4 apg, 4 rpg; 46/66/39; 71 steals -- 23-14, Final Four
G was a really, really good player for us but I'd argue the story of our run in the postseason was more attributable to MSU getting upset
Nonsense. How many times do we have to beat that team, before people will stop saying this? I can't even remember the last loss to MSU (other than '00). We have beaten them throughout Izzo's great run the past 15 years at the Dome, Breslin, MSG, and the NCAAs (in Detroit). They were the higher seed, so what?
 

OttoMets

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#15
Actually 3.7 blocks for Etan...and that was his lowest average since his freshman year. Guy was fun to watch.

I think Gbinije, McNamara, White, and Christmas could all be tied for 10th on the list and Shumpert could maybe be one spot above them. A lot of those seasons were interchangeable: good performances on shaky teams.
 

CusefanATL

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#16
Got thinking about Frank (even more so than Chuckwu) the other day and wondering if he could potentially put a nice leap together as a senior. I wouldn't expect a huge numbers increase or for him to all of a sudden make all the right decisions, but cut down on TOs, up the shooting % and overall efficiency and all of a sudden you have a pretty impressive senior.

Anyway, it got me thinking about all the special senior seasons we've gotten to witness as Cuse fans through the years. So I decided to try and rank out the top 10 senior seasons for the past 25 years with the following caveats in mind:

1) It's completely arbitrary so if you hate where someone is ranked, feel free to flip out.

2) I'm not a huge fan of advanced basketball metrics b/c I really think you can tell a ton from the traditional numbers. if people want to make advanced metrics arguments about what an idiot I am, however, I'm good with that.

3) You get extra credit for being on a good team -- Rak, White, Shump and Nichols get hurt by this the most and, to be honest, it's probably not really fair to those guys. But I also think a truly great season should reflect the team's record to at least a slight degree.

So first -- honorable mentions and notable omissions

Honorable mentions: Onuaku (unstoppable in the post), Sims (7.4 assists/game in an excellent senior year), Damone and Josh Pace (his versatility was huge). Edit: Realized I never went back and finished this list once I finalized the top 10. So, for good measure, I need to add Rak (17.5 and 9), RJ (13 and 11), Shump (20.7 and 6).

Notable omissions (good players but either didn't fit criteria or didn't have huge senior seasons): Burgan, KJo (better as a soph), Hart (never really had great numbers), Devo (not really a traditional senior year), Wes (not really a senior), Triche (numbers got worse each year)/.

So with that said, here we go (in reverse order):

10. Andrew White (16-17) -- 18.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg; 44/83/40 -- 19-15, NIT 2nd rd; All-ACC 3rd Team
White ends up on a truly dysfunctional team for half the season and his season is largely one-dimensional but a couple things should be mentioned here. Kid came in and had to learn the defense and then was mis-cast as a 2 for a chunk of the year. They move him to the 3 and, in my mind, he was solid defensively by the time the latter portion of the ACC sked rolled around. Also, I'm not sure I remember anyone who actually played better against tougher competition in ACC/Big East play. Dude's numbers in conference -- 20 ppg, 45/88/41. Take out a couple clunkers vs. Duke and Louisville and the numbers are even better. Really a phenomenal offensive player. Hard to put him higher though given the record as well as the weird makeup of the team where his alpha dog qualities seemed to sort of marginalize Lydon (this still baffles me).

9. Demetris Nichols (06-07) -- 19 ppg, 5.5 rpg; 45/85/42 shooting -- 24-11 NIT quarterfinals; First Team All-BE
Nichols is unquestionably hurt by playing on one of the weirder Cuse teams in this era. Devendorf is solid and Rautins has promise but is still figuring it out. Other than that? Watkins is good defender but brings zero to the table offensively, Roberts works hard but has huge holes in his game, Harris was a huge recruit but struggles to find his role at this level and Josh Wright was, well, Josh Wright. The other knock, IMO, is that Nichols' year is a bit one-dimensional. Never became an impact defender and never was much of a rebounder. Having said that, phenomenally consistent offensive year and a first-team all BE nod is pretty impressive.

8. Gmac (05-06) -- 16 ppg, 6 apg, 3 rpg; 35/90/33 -- 23-12, BET champs; BET MVP
Tough to rank GMac's senior season b/c the raw numbers aren't great. But then you've got the fact that he literally owned the BET for a week by hitting big shots for the entire tourney and we wind up with a second straight BET title. That's pretty sick. The other thing to think about here: If GMac doesn't go off in NYC, we would have had a first-round NCAA exit followed by three straight NIT teams. It's hard to overstate just how phenomenal that tourney run was AND how desperately we needed it (given the next couple years).

7. Etan Thomas (99-00) -- 13.6, 9 rpg, 3 bpg; 61% FG, 67% FT -- 26-6, regular season BE champs, Sweet 16
Etan's numbers aren't eye-popping, but his 3 blks a game is crazy and this was a really good team that just had the misfortune of drawing MSU in the sweet 16. Not crazy to think they could have a round or two deeper with a different draw. Regardless, Etan set the standard (IMO) as the center of the zone and while I know some like Watkins or Fab, he's the guy I'd run with as the ideal center for this defense. Very efficient down low too and improved a ton in five years.

6. Gbinije (15-16) -- 17.5 ppg, 4 apg, 4 rpg; 46/66/39; 71 steals -- 23-14, Final Four
G is tough to rank, IMO, b/c his numbers are outstanding and he did an admirable job playing the point out of desperation. Having said that it was a pretty brutal season for this team until the surprise inclusion in the tourney and then the 4-win run in the dance. G was a really, really good player for us but I'd argue the story of our run in the postseason was more attributable to MSU getting upset, Roberson playing like a man possessed and Mali going absolutely crazy vs. UVA. So need to give G a ton of credit for an excellent and consistent senior campaign and being a big part of a deep run, but ultimately I'm guessing I may have him a bit lower than some other folks.

5. Autry (93-94) -- 17 ppg, 6 apg, 5 rpg; 45/78/37; Sweet 16, First-team All BE
Red had frustrating career at times and this team was pretty talented (Wallace, Luke Jackson, Moten, Hill, Reafsnyder) and even this year was a little up and down with 115 turnovers (always a problem for Red). But still, those are really solid numbers and this team found itself in the sweet 16 with a tough loss to a loaded Mizzou team. As good as Moten and Wallace were, Red was the guy who ran the team and he was really good in that role and he got the nod on All-BE first team, which is pretty crazy in this era.

4. Moten (94-95) -- 19.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4 rpg; 46/74/33; NCAA second round; 20-10; All BE 1st Team
Moten's raw numbers are good, not great, but dude was a scoring machine and despite clearly being the target of every defense we played by this time, he still just kept scoring. I knock him slightly for this team underachieving a bit -- Wallace/Jackson/Lloyd/Moten feels like it should have beenmore like the team that started 14-1 than the team that lost 9 of it's next 15. But ultimately first team all-BE is tough to ignore.

3. Rautins (09-10) -- 12 ppg, 5 apg, 3.4 rpg; 44/81.5/41; 2 steals/game Sweet 16, 3rd team all BE, regular season BE champs, Third-team All BE
So I'm a huge Rautins fan and, quite frankly, I know people will hate this. But this team was third in offensive rating and 33rd (out of 341 teams) in defensive rating making them, for my money, the best team we've had since the title team in '03 and those two teams (along with maybe 11-12) were the best teams since the glory days of the late 80s. They were nasty on both ends of the floor and a lot of that started with Rautins who was the best defender, a super creative passer who was always looking to push tempo, and a guy who could impact a game without ever scoring. Oh, and he made 41% from three and hit some huge shots. I have no idea if it's true but I'll always believe they win the title with a healthy Arinze.

2. Hak (04-05) -- 21.4 ppg, 9 rpg; 55% FG/68% FT; BET MVP, BE POY; won BET, lost to UVM in rd 1
So a couple things -- the UVM loss is a killer and i could see some arguing that it should reflect more in Hak's ranking, but dude was a complete stud all year and this team won a BET tourney which, being sort of old school, I still love. He was also BE POY, which was huge as well. Just a consistently dominating season that could have made a push for no. 1 if there was more postseason success.

1. Wallace (95-96) -- 22 ppg, 9 rpg; 49/76/42; Reached title game; first team All BE
The numbers speak for themselves to a large extent as Wallace was obviously ridiculous. Led the team in scoring in 30 of 38 games. But his spot on this list is cemented by the tourney run. Put up 18 in the blowout against montana state, then 18 and 7 with five assists and five blks against Drexel. The huge pass to Cipolla against Georgia, followed by the huge 3 to win it. Finished that game with 30 and 15. 15 and 9 in a not great game against KU but then had 21 against MSU. Also put up 29 and 10 against a completely stacked UK team in the final. Crazy run and huge season.
10 and 9 were on very underachieving teams.
8 was too minus the BET
2 - Sorrentine from the parking lot
1- is by far 1. lets be honest.
 

OrangeDW

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#19
Man, Gerry's percentages are just ... not good.
His senior year was easily his worst shooting season(also easily the least talented team he played on so that goes hand in hand). The BET performance rewrote his whole senior story.

Going off memory, it seems like he shot his best percentages when Billy Edelin was in the mix and playing well. He didn’t have to do it all, and could get freed up for good looks easier.
 
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billsin01

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#21
Nonsense. How many times do we have to beat that team, before people will stop saying this? I can't even remember the last loss to MSU (other than '00). We have beaten them throughout Izzo's great run the past 15 years at the Dome, Breslin, MSG, and the NCAAs (in Detroit). They were the higher seed, so what?
Coming in hot! My only point is that the NCAA tourney is almost always partly about your draw. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. If you’re lower seed and a top seed goes out, it’s got to be part of the narrative.
 

OrangeDW

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#22
Coming in hot! My only point is that the NCAA tourney is almost always partly about your draw. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. If you’re lower seed and a top seed goes out, it’s got to be part of the narrative.
Yeah, thing is it happens all the time. Some people just made a big deal about it in 2016 because they went so hard on selection Sunday saying that Cuse should’nt have made it, and they were clinging to any life raft they could find rather than just saying “I was wrong.”
 
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#25
Got thinking about Frank (even more so than Chuckwu) the other day and wondering if he could potentially put a nice leap together as a senior. I wouldn't expect a huge numbers increase or for him to all of a sudden make all the right decisions, but cut down on TOs, up the shooting % and overall efficiency and all of a sudden you have a pretty impressive senior.

Anyway, it got me thinking about all the special senior seasons we've gotten to witness as Cuse fans through the years. So I decided to try and rank out the top 10 senior seasons for the past 25 years with the following caveats in mind:

1) It's completely arbitrary so if you hate where someone is ranked, feel free to flip out.

2) I'm not a huge fan of advanced basketball metrics b/c I really think you can tell a ton from the traditional numbers. if people want to make advanced metrics arguments about what an idiot I am, however, I'm good with that.

3) You get extra credit for being on a good team -- Rak, White, Shump and Nichols get hurt by this the most and, to be honest, it's probably not really fair to those guys. But I also think a truly great season should reflect the team's record to at least a slight degree.

So first -- honorable mentions and notable omissions

Honorable mentions: Onuaku (unstoppable in the post), Sims (7.4 assists/game in an excellent senior year), Damone and Josh Pace (his versatility was huge). Edit: Realized I never went back and finished this list once I finalized the top 10. So, for good measure, I need to add Rak (17.5 and 9), RJ (13 and 11), Shump (20.7 and 6).

Notable omissions (good players but either didn't fit criteria or didn't have huge senior seasons): Burgan, KJo (better as a soph), Hart (never really had great numbers), Devo (not really a traditional senior year), Wes (not really a senior), Triche (numbers got worse each year)/.

So with that said, here we go (in reverse order):

10. Andrew White (16-17) -- 18.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg; 44/83/40 -- 19-15, NIT 2nd rd; All-ACC 3rd Team
White ends up on a truly dysfunctional team for half the season and his season is largely one-dimensional but a couple things should be mentioned here. Kid came in and had to learn the defense and then was mis-cast as a 2 for a chunk of the year. They move him to the 3 and, in my mind, he was solid defensively by the time the latter portion of the ACC sked rolled around. Also, I'm not sure I remember anyone who actually played better against tougher competition in ACC/Big East play. Dude's numbers in conference -- 20 ppg, 45/88/41. Take out a couple clunkers vs. Duke and Louisville and the numbers are even better. Really a phenomenal offensive player. Hard to put him higher though given the record as well as the weird makeup of the team where his alpha dog qualities seemed to sort of marginalize Lydon (this still baffles me).

9. Demetris Nichols (06-07) -- 19 ppg, 5.5 rpg; 45/85/42 shooting -- 24-11 NIT quarterfinals; First Team All-BE
Nichols is unquestionably hurt by playing on one of the weirder Cuse teams in this era. Devendorf is solid and Rautins has promise but is still figuring it out. Other than that? Watkins is good defender but brings zero to the table offensively, Roberts works hard but has huge holes in his game, Harris was a huge recruit but struggles to find his role at this level and Josh Wright was, well, Josh Wright. The other knock, IMO, is that Nichols' year is a bit one-dimensional. Never became an impact defender and never was much of a rebounder. Having said that, phenomenally consistent offensive year and a first-team all BE nod is pretty impressive.

8. Gmac (05-06) -- 16 ppg, 6 apg, 3 rpg; 35/90/33 -- 23-12, BET champs; BET MVP
Tough to rank GMac's senior season b/c the raw numbers aren't great. But then you've got the fact that he literally owned the BET for a week by hitting big shots for the entire tourney and we wind up with a second straight BET title. That's pretty sick. The other thing to think about here: If GMac doesn't go off in NYC, we would have had a first-round NCAA exit followed by three straight NIT teams. It's hard to overstate just how phenomenal that tourney run was AND how desperately we needed it (given the next couple years).

7. Etan Thomas (99-00) -- 13.6, 9 rpg, 3 bpg; 61% FG, 67% FT -- 26-6, regular season BE champs, Sweet 16
Etan's numbers aren't eye-popping, but his 3 blks a game is crazy and this was a really good team that just had the misfortune of drawing MSU in the sweet 16. Not crazy to think they could have a round or two deeper with a different draw. Regardless, Etan set the standard (IMO) as the center of the zone and while I know some like Watkins or Fab, he's the guy I'd run with as the ideal center for this defense. Very efficient down low too and improved a ton in five years.

6. Gbinije (15-16) -- 17.5 ppg, 4 apg, 4 rpg; 46/66/39; 71 steals -- 23-14, Final Four
G is tough to rank, IMO, b/c his numbers are outstanding and he did an admirable job playing the point out of desperation. Having said that it was a pretty brutal season for this team until the surprise inclusion in the tourney and then the 4-win run in the dance. G was a really, really good player for us but I'd argue the story of our run in the postseason was more attributable to MSU getting upset, Roberson playing like a man possessed and Mali going absolutely crazy vs. UVA. So need to give G a ton of credit for an excellent and consistent senior campaign and being a big part of a deep run, but ultimately I'm guessing I may have him a bit lower than some other folks.

5. Autry (93-94) -- 17 ppg, 6 apg, 5 rpg; 45/78/37; Sweet 16, First-team All BE
Red had frustrating career at times and this team was pretty talented (Wallace, Luke Jackson, Moten, Hill, Reafsnyder) and even this year was a little up and down with 115 turnovers (always a problem for Red). But still, those are really solid numbers and this team found itself in the sweet 16 with a tough loss to a loaded Mizzou team. As good as Moten and Wallace were, Red was the guy who ran the team and he was really good in that role and he got the nod on All-BE first team, which is pretty crazy in this era.

4. Moten (94-95) -- 19.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4 rpg; 46/74/33; NCAA second round; 20-10; All BE 1st Team
Moten's raw numbers are good, not great, but dude was a scoring machine and despite clearly being the target of every defense we played by this time, he still just kept scoring. I knock him slightly for this team underachieving a bit -- Wallace/Jackson/Lloyd/Moten feels like it should have beenmore like the team that started 14-1 than the team that lost 9 of it's next 15. But ultimately first team all-BE is tough to ignore.

3. Rautins (09-10) -- 12 ppg, 5 apg, 3.4 rpg; 44/81.5/41; 2 steals/game Sweet 16, 3rd team all BE, regular season BE champs, Third-team All BE
So I'm a huge Rautins fan and, quite frankly, I know people will hate this. But this team was third in offensive rating and 33rd (out of 341 teams) in defensive rating making them, for my money, the best team we've had since the title team in '03 and those two teams (along with maybe 11-12) were the best teams since the glory days of the late 80s. They were nasty on both ends of the floor and a lot of that started with Rautins who was the best defender, a super creative passer who was always looking to push tempo, and a guy who could impact a game without ever scoring. Oh, and he made 41% from three and hit some huge shots. I have no idea if it's true but I'll always believe they win the title with a healthy Arinze.

2. Hak (04-05) -- 21.4 ppg, 9 rpg; 55% FG/68% FT; BET MVP, BE POY; won BET, lost to UVM in rd 1
So a couple things -- the UVM loss is a killer and i could see some arguing that it should reflect more in Hak's ranking, but dude was a complete stud all year and this team won a BET tourney which, being sort of old school, I still love. He was also BE POY, which was huge as well. Just a consistently dominating season that could have made a push for no. 1 if there was more postseason success.

1. Wallace (95-96) -- 22 ppg, 9 rpg; 49/76/42; Reached title game; first team All BE
The numbers speak for themselves to a large extent as Wallace was obviously ridiculous. Led the team in scoring in 30 of 38 games. But his spot on this list is cemented by the tourney run. Put up 18 in the blowout against montana state, then 18 and 7 with five assists and five blks against Drexel. The huge pass to Cipolla against Georgia, followed by the huge 3 to win it. Finished that game with 30 and 15. 15 and 9 in a not great game against KU but then had 21 against MSU. Also put up 29 and 10 against a completely stacked UK team in the final. Crazy run and huge season.
This is such an interesting thought experiment!

#1 and 2 on the list pretty much pick themselves, don't they? I can't imagine there will be much argument or debate there. But my gosh there isn't a lot separating #3 from #15 or 20. It comes down to perspective/preference.

Here's my list.

#1 Wallace - Was his senior year the best single year any Boeheim player has ever had? I would say, yes, it was, even better than Melo's.

#2 Warrick - Really no explanation needed for this All American or the guy above him on the list.

#3 Gbinije - He just did so much for us, and did it all exceptionally well. We didn't have a point guard so he learned how to play the position. He was arguably the best defensive player in the country. He shot just about 40% from 3 and could slash and finish with the best of them. Even though we made a final 4, he played under a cloud of sanctions and because of that never had a lot of talent around him. I would have loved to watch him play on a more talented team, I think he would have looked even better.

#4 Rautins - SU was the best team in the country his senior year. The fans tended to give Johnson the most credit for this, opposing players tended to give Onuaku the most credit, but opposing coaches almost always gave Rautins the most credit. 9 times out of 10 the teams we played organized their D around stopping him from getting open looks, and the few that didn't paid for it big time - this made things a lot easier for Johnson, Onuaku and crew to do their thing. Rautins was an elite defender, an elite passer for a shooting guard, and an elite rebounder for a shooting guard. My favorite part of his game was that he never made the simple pass, he always always made a move to put a defender in a bad position before shooting or passing. It lead to a few more turnovers than you'd want, but paid off much more often with easy points, I wish every player played that way.

This is where it gets really hard for me. There is almost no way to differentiate 5-10 in my eyes. I'm making judgment calls on tiny differences. For instance, how to differentiate Christmas and Thomas? I don't think Thomas could have carried a bad team the way Christmas did, but Thomas's shot blocking ability is a game changer, especially with a talented surrounding cast. I'm not sure there's a right answer when choosing between the two.

#5 Christmas - GREAT season, bad team. The guy defended like a beast, grabbed rebounds, and scored at will. It doesn't take too much imagination to picture what it would have been like if Christmas was surrounded by better talent. Imagine him on the 03 team, or even last year's team, or even senior Christmas on the previous year's final four team instead of junior Christmas - that team probably would have won it all with senior Christmas.

#5a(6) Thomas - Was his senior year the last time before this upcoming year that SU brought back all 5 starters? His junior year SU was an NIT team. His senior year SU was a good team capable of beating anybody, and credit for that improvement should go directly to Thomas and Heart working their asses off in the offseason and willing themselves to be better. Thomas was an all time great shot blocker in a time when shot blocking was even more important than it is now. His team lost to eventual champs Michigan St. in the sweet 16, but had a lot of whistles go against them which really turned the game. SU could have beaten Michigan St and anybody else that year. They were good, and Thomas was the main reason why.

#7 Moten - Moten's legacy is one of being really really good for 4 straight years, and less of being great in any one year. I still think his junior year was his best, but the Big East's all time leading scorer deserves his due respect.

#8 Autry - He was a big point guard with a little of everything in his game. He could shoot, pass, slash, defend. Autry and Moten made for a deadly back court on both ends of the floor, and Autry is one of those players who tends to be underrated as time passes. Maybe even by me? I was thinking I'd have him higher on the list than this.

#9 McNamara - By far the hardest player to place. On one hand his offensive numbers are not very good, and he was an average defender as well. On the other hand he was the only shooter on an mediocre team, and had to deal with an insane amount of defensive focus. Despite that defensive pressure, McNamara put up some of the greatest performances in SU history. His (partly by circumstance, and partly by his own decision making) was a career of ups and downs. McNamara at his best was as good as college basketball players get. McNamara at his worst was a liability, which you can't say about anybody else on this list. Still I couldn't leave out somebody who single-handedly carried SU to some of the amazing wins they've ever had.

#10 Jardine - His stats might not be as good as the other players on this list, and there are plenty of guys I would choose over him if my team needed a number one option, but there is nobody I'd rather have controlling the game for a super talented team. He wasn't the point guard of two 1 seeded teams by accident. He had an amazing feel for when to set up his teammates and when to score himself. He played great D, and had a knack for putting the ball in the basket in the clutch when baskets are hardest to come by.

Some others

Jackson - He wasn't good enough his junior year. By his senior year he made himself good enough, and was a real force down low, especially on the boards, but also in the low post.

Onuaku - Could not be stopped down low (except by Thabeet). If he could have made free throws he might have been #1 on this list.

Nichols & White- Another two guys you can't differentiate. Both guys made shots. Both guys were average defenders. Nichols was a terrible rebounder, White was a better rebounder, but Nichols shot the ball slightly better than White, and was a lot better when he was asked to make a tough shot with a guy in his face. White probably makes for a better second or third option, but Nichols definitely made a better #1 option.

Shumpert - we remember him as a shooter, but he was a worse shooter than you probably remember, and a much better rebounder and defender than you probably remember. He was actually a very good overall player, but he faded at the end of the year, which is why I don't have him in the top 10.

Fair - I had a really tough time placing Fair as well. He was the perfect glue guy or garbage man. As a senior he needed to become the #1 option, and while he did an admirable job, that's really not where you'd want him to play. Fair was best hanging out around the basket, always finding himself in the right places, and scrapping for rebounds and points - perhaps hitting the occasional wide open 3. He was good enough to probably never be able to stay in this role as a senior, but not quite good enough to be a guy I'd want leading my team. Senior Fair would be a perfect addition to a dream team type line up.

Sims - He defended well, and controlled the game well, but make no mistake that final 4 team was all about Wallace. He was Gladys Knight and everyone else was a pip.
 



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