Hansbrough tops All-Decade Team
We’ll give this weekend a look, but first we’ll take
one last look at the last 10 years and our all-decade team:
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina (2005-09) –
Psycho T was all about production. He was a National Player of the
Year winner who went to three Final Fours and won a national title
in his final game of his four-year career. Hansbrough averaged 20.2
points and 8.6 rebounds in his career.
Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse (2002-03) – I know
it was only one season, but it was one that was as special as any
player has enjoyed this decade. ‘Melo averaged 22.1 points
and 10 boards for the ‘Cuse and led the Orange to the
national title in 2003. He exploded for 33 in a national semifinal
win against Texas and had 20 points, 10 boards and 7 assists
against Kansas to give Syracuse its first national title.
Emeka Okafor, UConn (2001-04) – Was the most
dominant defensive player in the nation over his three seasons in
Storrs from 2001-04 and also helped the Huskies hang a banner in
2004. Okafor averaged 17.6 points, 11.6 boards and 4.1 blocks as a
junior while battling a stress fracture in his back and finished
with 24 points and 15 boards in the national title game win against
Jason Williams, Duke (1999-2002) – Won a
national title and also was a National Player of the Year in his
three seasons with the Blue Devils. Some forget how dominant he was
on the court after a motorcycle accident derailed his NBA career.
Williams averaged 19.3 points, 6 assists and 3.7 boards per game in
Dwyane Wade, Marquette (2001-03) –
He’s become an NBA star, but wasn’t highly regarded
coming into college. Wade averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and
3.9 assists in his two seasons in college and led the Golden Eagles
to the Final Four in 2003. Had one of the most memorable
performances in the decade with a triple-double against Kentucky to
put Marquette into the Final Four.
Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph’s (2000-04)
– He led the Hawks to an undefeated regular season in 2004
and also took Phil Martelli’s team to an Elite Eight with the
help of Delonte West. Nelson scored more than 2,000 points in his
four-year career and also dished out in excess of 700 assists.
J.J. Redick, Duke (2002-06) – Spent four
years in Durham and was a scoring machine, but didn’t make my
list of starters because he struggled in the NCAA tournament.
Redick was the National Player of the Year in 2006.
Kevin Durant, Texas (2005-06) – Was the
first freshman to win National Player of the Year honors while
dominating from the day he stepped onto campus in Austin. Durant
only spent one season in college and averaged 25.8 points and 11.1
boards per game.
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma (2007-09) – Was the
National Player of the Year in 2009 and dominated for the Sooners,
averaging 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per contest.
Al Horford, Florida (2004-07) – Many will go
with the more vocal and flashy Joakim Noah, but I’m going
with the “other” frontcourt stud. Horford’s
production was nearly identical as the Gators won two national
titles in 2006 and 2007. Horford was also the leader of the Gators.
Shane Battier, Duke (1997-2001)– Most of his
career was spent in the 1990s, but the versatile forward did win
National Player of the Year award honors in 2001 while leading the
Blue Devils to the national title.
Adam Morrison, Gonzaga (2003-06)– He’s
been a flop in the NBA, but he was a big-time scorer in his three
seasons in Spokane. Led the country in scoring in 2006 when he led
Gonzaga to the Sweet 16.
Player of the Decade – Tyler Hansbrough
Coach of Decade – Roy Williams, North
Carolina- Williams edges out Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan with two
national titles and four Final Fours – including one while he
was at Kansas.
Now it’s time to take a quick look at this
CAN’T MISS: When Louisville coach Rick
Pitino – who was a hero at UK a decade or so ago –
returns to Lexington Saturday afternoon and is mercilessly taunted
by the Wildcats faithful. Pitino and Calipari don’t like one
another, but Kentucky and Louisville take it much further than
UNDERCARD: This is one heck of an undercard with
two of the half-dozen unbeatens left in the D-1 ranks, West
Virginia and Purdue, going at it on New Year’s Day. The
Mountaineers, who have squeaked past Seton Hall and Marquette in
the last two games, travel to West Lafayette to take on Matt
PRESSURE: UConn faces Notre Dame at home on
Saturday at noon. The Huskies are coming off a loss at Cincinnati
and haven’t really beaten anyone of note this season. UConn
can hardly afford to fall to 0-2 in Big East play since they still
have road contests at Villanova, Syracuse and Georgetown this
REAL DEAL?: Dayton and New Mexico are both Top 25
teams. The two will play at The Pit on Friday night at 9 p.m. ET in
a game that will give the winner a quality resume victory for
HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN: Remember the days when
Arizona-UCLA was a big-time matchup. Now virtually no one cares
nationally. The Wildcats are in major rebuilding mode and Ben
Howland’s program is floundering with youth and a lack of
UPSET SPECIAL: My record is a sizzling 5-of-6 thus
far this season, so pay attention. I’m taking an 8-5 Penn
State team to knock off Wisconsin, which has wins this season
against Duke and is coming off a convincing victory over Ohio
MID-MAJOR MATCHUP: Southern Illinois at Illinois
State on Sunday night. The Salukis struggled last season, but are
8-2 this season and have won five straight. Illinois State is 10-2
and is coming off a victory against Wichita State.
DANGEROUS: I’m not sure how Buzz Williams
has done it, but Marquette is 9-4 and nearly knocked off West
Virginia on the road. Now Marquette gets Villanova in Milwaukee on
STAYING PERFECT: There are six unbeatens left in
the country, but one will go down on Friday when West Virginia
plays Purdue. That leaves Kansas, Texas, Kentucky and Syracuse as
those without a blemish – for now.
STILL SEARCHING: Just a handful remain without a
victory: Penn, Marist, Bryant and a pair out of the SWAC:
Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alcorn State.