And now for something completely different, I decided to write an article on the greatest players to play for the same coach/program over the past 50 years (since 1960). My rule of thumb for this list is that the coach had to be with that program for at least 20 years. Unlike my previous articles, I am in now way going to attempt to rank any of these five great programs, so this is simply a list in no particular order. I will however pick my starting 5 for each program and list the bench, so we can have some discussion regarding that part of it.
Coach Mike Zrzyzewshi and the Duke Blue Devils
Hard as this may be to believe, but this is Coach K’s 27 year at Duke, so you can now refer to him as an “icon”. Let me start off with my starting 5 of the Blue Devils.
- Point Guard – Bob Hurley
- Shooting Guard – Grant Hill
- Forward – Christian Laettner
- Forward – Elton Brand
- Center – Mike Gminski
Bob Hurley ran coach K’s offense just like it was drawn up, he finished his career as the all time leader in 3 point field goals made in NCAA tournament history, a mark that lasted until this year (2007) when it was broken by Humphrey of the University of Florida. Grant Hill was the ultimate team player, could score at any point in the game and basically play 3 different positions for the team. Christian Laettner was the greatest college player since Bill Walton at UCLA, and was the leader on the last college team to repeat as national champion until Florida this year. Elton Brand was a strong rebounder and an underrated scorer in college whose picture could have been in the dictionary under the word Power Forward. The Center, Mike Gminski was one of the first true stars for coach K and was a hard working “lunch pail” type of player that coach K just loved. Filling out my Duke bench are Johnny Dawkins and Jay Williams, Phil Henderson, Tommy Amaker, Danny Ferry, Shane Battier, Gene Banks, Mike Dunveavy and Carlos Boozer round out my roster.
Coach Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers
Bobby Knight coached at Indiana for 30 years and was coach K’s coach and mentor. For the Indiana starting five you have.
- Point Guard – Isiah Thomas
- Shooting Guard – Keith Smart
- Forward – Scott May
- Forward – Landon Turner
- Center Kent Benson
Isiah Thomas was probably the best overall player for Knight at Indiana and was a tremendous scorer as well as a floor leader. Although he only played 2 seasons at Indiana, leaving for the NBA after his second season, there is no doubt he belongs as the starting point guard. Shooting guard Keith Smart was as his name reflects a very smart heady ball player that fit perfectly into Knights system. Scott May was a workaholic forward who had a great college game. Landon Turner was a bull of an inside presence both on the rebounding side of the game as well as having great post moves. Kent Benson at Center provides the wide body game and passing that any great team needs to be successful. Off the bench you have Tom Abernethy and Bobby Wilkerson, Randy Wittman a very deadly 3-point shooter, Dean Garrett, Steve Alford, Quinn Buckner and Calbert Chaney.
Coach Guy Lewis and the University of Houston Cougars
One of the biggest injustices in all of basketball is the fact that Guy V. Lewis is not in the basketball hall of fame. This man coached the Cougars for 32 years and was the first college coach to integrate African-Americans into a southern school back in the 1960’s. Let’s take a look at his “all-time” team in my opinion.
- Point Guard – Don Chaney
- Shooting Guard – Clyde Drexler
- Forward – Dwight Jones
- Forward – Elvin Hayes
- Center – Akeem Olajuwon
Don Chaney got the slight nod over Rob Williams as the starting guard on this team, paired with Clyde “the glide” Drexler at the shooting guard, who was the leader of the famed 80’s “Phi-Slamma-Jamma” teams. Dwight Jones was an extremely tough and powerful rebounder and Elvin Hayes was the schools first true superstar and the main figure that made college basketball popular on the TV with his match-up again Lew Alcindor in the “game of the century” in the astrodome in 1968. Rounding out the starting five was 3 time Final 4 participant Akeem “the dream” Olajuwon, who wound up at U of H by accident after his flight landed in Houston from Nigeria. On the bench for Guy V, were Dwight Davis, Ken Spain, Theo Lee, Michael Young, and Sweet Lou Dunbar, who was the first 6’9″ point guard, Alvin Franklin, Rob Williams, Ricky Winslow and Otis Birdsong.
Coach Dean Smith and the University of North Carolina
Dean Smith coached at North Carolina for 36 years and when he retired he held the NCAA division 1 record for most victories in a career, both men and women. Lets take a look at the starting 5.
- Point Guard – Phi Ford
- Shooting Guard – Michael Jordan
- Forward – Bob McAdoo
- Forward – Walter Davis
- Center – Brad Daughtery
This was a team that was probably the second hardest to pick a starting 5 from. So since you know whom that is, now I have to give you a bench. How about Charlie Scott and Kenny Smith (a NCAA player of the year on the bench huh?) And Jerry Stackhouse (oh wait make that 2), Sam Perkins, Eric Montross, James Worthy, Rasheed Wallace, Bobby Jones and Mike O’Koren round out this FANTASTIC team. It is hard to believe that with all of these great players, many of which did play together on the same team, that they only won 2 championships (1982 and 1993), but there is a very good reason for that, it is the final school on my list.
Coach John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins
Let’s see here, we have the coach for whom the current NCAA Player of the Year award is named after coached the Bruins for 27 years and is mostly responsible for all of the coaches listed above, with the exception of coach K, not wining more NCAA championships. During the 60’s-70’s Wooden won 10 championships in 12 seasons. UCLA won 38 straight tournament games and had streaks of 47 straight and 88 straight and he had 16 First Team All Americans. So you tell me picking his all-time team was easy, let alone the starting 5.
- Point Guard – Lucious Allen
- Shooting Guard – Gail Goodrich
- Forward – Marques Johnson
- Forward – Sidney Wicks
- Center – Lewis Alcindor (AKA Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
Now for the bench, and this is the scary part of this team. 3 time player of the year Bill Walton, Curtis Rowe, Henry Bibby, Walt Hazzard, Larry Farmer, David Meyers, Richard Washington, Keith Wilkes and Swen Nater.
Well there you have my college basketball teams of teams. See you soon.