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Posts Tagged ‘Channing Frye’

The Rivalry

Posted by naterb on January 20, 2009

the-rivalryThere hasn’t been this much drama in the Arizona/Arizona State Rivalry since some audacious ASU fans’ horrendous chants towards Steve Kerr back in 1984. Yes, even more drama than last year when Arizona State seemed to turn the tables by sweeping the ‘Cats. More drama than in 1998 when Arizona left Tempe with a 1-point victory. More dramatic than when ASU won three straight between 1994 and 1995 – their longest during the Lute Olson era in Tucson – to which Arizona responded with 11-straight wins over the Sun Devils.
There have been some great match-ups, Ike Diogu vs. Channing Frye and Eddie House vs. Gilbert Arenas to name a couple. But something is different this year. Arizona State fans are ready to declare that the tables have turned in this rivalry and that they are now the premier team in the state. They’re nationally ranked, have a better record, an impressive road win at Pauley Pavilion and many other arguments to support their case.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats are in the midst of their rockiest two season with Lute Olson first taking a leave of absence followed by being forced to retire due to medical conditions. The ‘Cats had a fall-out with their 2008 recruiting class and have turned to searching for hidden talent to produce big performances.

These are all circumstances that perhaps won’t play out beyond this year after Harden departs from ASU and the Wildcats start to rebuild beginning in just a few months when they look to hire a premier head coach to replace Olson on a permanent basis. The Sun Devils will lose a majority of their talent (ie James Harden) after this year and will need to put together some solid recruiting classes if they truly want to turn the tables rather than just repeating their 3-rivalry-game win streak. The Wildcats future is more uncertain and will likely contain a few years of bumps and bruises, but with the right hire they should be able to keep history on their side and continue to dominate this rivalry again down the road. Read the rest of this entry »

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All-Time Lute Olson Team

Posted by naterb on January 9, 2009

 

 

oldschoolnewschoolAfter trimming down roughly 25 years of rosters into two separate 12-man rosters, I had a tougher task of combining the teams into one team and cutting half the players. The criteria of Old School and New School All-Star teams has been thrown out the window because it is time to produce the All-Time Lute Olson Team. By now you should be familiar with the criteria, but I feel it is important to reiterate one of them – that the team has to be realistically functional. I can’t have 12 backcourt players on this roster, nor can I have half of the team be frontcourt players. So I’m sure that there will be a fair deal of disagreement on who gets in and who sits out. That’s okay, once again tell me what you like and what you would change and why.

 

All-Time Lute Olson Team

Starters:

Point Guard: Steve Kerr – How can you not start Steve Kerr? He performed so many heroics in an Arizona jersey and faced the most amount of adversity any college player has ever seen. He was an incredibly smart player and a prolific three-point shooter. To not start Kerr would be an injustice.

Shooting Guard: Damon Stoudamire – If you’re looking for a guy that could do it all as the off-guard look no further than Damon Stoudamire. Lightning fast, aggressive, and a big time play-maker.

Small Forward: Sean Elliott – Elliott was the key to the success of ‘88. He was arguably the best prospect Arizona has ever had, at any position. You can tell me that I’ve made a bad call on point guard, shooting guard, or any other position – but if you tell me I blew this one you are in serious need of a shrink evaluation.

Power Forward: Channing Frye – Yes, I know Frye wasn’t actually a power forward in his time at Arizona, but he was better than any power forward on the list. So I would go with two starting centers on this list. Frye was an amazing shot blocker who could run the court. Matched with his offensive skill set there’s no doubt in my mind that Frye deserves a starting spot.

Center: Brian Williams (aka Bison Dele) – This could be the most debated pick, but Williams was the epitome of a true center. He was big, strong, and was an intimidator inside the paint. Williams gets my vote as the best center in Arizona history.

The Bench:

PG: Mike Bibby – If it weren’t for Kerr, I would start Mike Bibby because he had the most complete all-around game of the group of point guards. Bibby could shoot, make the amazing pass, create his own shot and apply great pressure on the defensive end. Not to mention in his freshman year he guided and directed the Wildcats to their NCAA Championship in 1997.

PG: Jason Terry – Terry was a maniac at Arizona. He had so much speed and intensity that no team could ever match it. When he was coming off the bench it was almost an instant momentum boost. If he was starting you knew the entire team was going to play hard while he was on the court. And who could forget those ‘Cats’ socks up to his knees?

SG: Miles Simon – I said it before, Simon wasn’t the most talented player ever to suit up for Olson, but he was perhaps the luckiest. Simon always found a way to get it done, even if it was luck sometimes. When you’re going for an NCAA Championship luck does have something to do with it, and Simon was lucky (think ¾ court buzzer beater vs. Cincy).

SF: Michael Dickerson – I am a huge Dickerson fan. He played smart, played hard, and was a great defender. He was a streaky shooter because of his delivery, but when he was on he was down-right lethal. I just wish that his chronic health problems wouldn’t have forced him to leave the NBA early.

SF: Chris Mills – How can you argue with the stats and the job that he did at Arizona? Earning All-American and All-Conference accolades, shot nearly 50% from beyond the arc, and tallied 16.5 ppg during his tenure at Arizona.

PF: Ben Davis – Davis didn’t have the career numbers that some of the other players had, not even some of the ones that were left off this team. Davis did lead the team in scoring and rebounding during his senior season and was the go-to guy that year. His ‘go-to’ status is what puts him on this list above some of the players who were left off.

C: Loren Woods: Woods has the highest blocks per game average of anyone. Tally that with his 14.4 cumulative points per game, it would be an injustice to leave Woods of this team.

 

Last Players Cut (No particular order): Michael Wright, Salim Stoudamire, Richard Jefferson, Anthony Cook, Tom Tolbert

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New School All-Stars

Posted by naterb on January 7, 2009

 

Yesterday I featured the first segment, the “Old School All-Stars,” of a three-part series looking back at the many great players that have put on the cardinal and navy uniforms to play for Lute Olson. Below is assembled the “New School All-Stars,” players who graduated or declared for the NBA draft from 1997 through today. As you’re reading keep in mind the criteria. Oh yeah, and don’t forget – if you don’t agree with my starters, who I have on the team, or who I left off – let me know and tell me what you would change and why!

 

Mike Bibby
Mike Bibby

Point Guard:

Mike Bibby – Bibby was a sure-handed point guard for the Wildcats who came in with a great basketball IQ and was a respected floor general his freshman year. Bibby had the innate ability to hit the open man, get to the rim, and come up with a timely steal. The only thing lacking for him to be irrefutably the best point guard in UA history is two more years in cardinal and navy.

 

 

Shooting Guard: Miles Simon – Simon was not the most talented shooting guard to come through Arizona, and likely not even during the time period. But Simon was a hard worker and got the job done regardless. You can argue stats and abilities on this one all day long. Salim was a better shooter and more athletic, Adams, a SG/SF, was more athletic and a better defender. But the one thing you can’t argue is that when push came to shove if it needed to be done Simon did it. He had an uncanny knack for coming up with the big play. He was a positive influence on his teammates, and so much more. Simon’s immeasurable attributes far outweigh any stat or athleticism that could be argued against him.

 

Michael Dickerson

Michael Dickerson

Small Forward:

Michael Dickerson – This is one of my more controversial picks. Many people view Richard Jefferson as the best small forward during this time. Jefferson was good, but Dickerson was an out-right stud. Throughout his career Dickerson’s stats are far weightier than any other SF, Sean Elliott excluded. Dickerson frequently defended bigger players and had the capability of shutting down just about anyone he faced. If that’s not enough for you look at his ‘96-’97 stats. 18.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, and 1.1 spg. Those figures are made all the more impressive when you consider the fact that he played a lot of that season with a back injury which limited his ability.

 

 

 

Power Forward:

Michael Wright – Wright is the only true power forward that even qualifies during this time period, but that’s not the only reason he’s on here. Wright was a monster on the blocks. He was big used his size well, always knew were to be for the rebound, and could create his own shot on taller frontcourt players. He is the epitome of what a power forward should be. Strong, hard working, athletic, and a fighter.

 

 

Center: Channing Frye – When I think ‘Center’ I think of someone that can block or alter opponents shots so well that they don’t want to find the paint when they’re shooting. That’s exactly what Frye had the capability of doing. Frye was a long athletic center that could run with the guards on the team. Frye had the stats, the big game performances, and the abilities to put him in a rare class of great Arizona front court players.

Bench:

PG: Jason Terry – Lightning quick, aggressive defender, play maker, all the things you want out of a leader. His first two years Terry came off the bench as the 6th man. Anytime he entered the game it was an instant spark. Terry brought energy, hustle, and an extra gear that left opponents in the dust. I almost created a “Sixth Man” slot just to fit him in for his first two years alone. But Terry is a guy that belongs on this roster, period.

PG: Jason Gardner – Jason Gardner was a stat-junkies dream. He quietly put together solid game after solid game. He wasn’t flashy, cocky, or very loudly spoken. But he was the general for four years and because of it has the best stats of any point guard in Arizona history. That would almost make him a “no brainer” for the starting role, wouldn’t it? Not even close.

Sure Gardner’s numbers were good, and he was on the ‘01 team that went to the National Championship game. Here’s the rub though, Gardner, unlike Bibby played four years, not two – so if Bibby had stuck around for his whole education, do you honestly think that Gardner would still be the best statistically? The other issue I have is Jason Terry only started for two years, and was the sixth man for two as well. He’s another candidate that if he’d started four years things would’ve been different.

 

Simon, Dickerson, Bibby

NCAA Champs: Simon, Dickerson, Bibby

SG: Salim Stoudamire –

Salim was a lethal combination of speed, athleticism, and of course assassin-like shooting. Salim had such a lightning quick first step that if he wanted to get by someone it was almost guaranteed. He was so fast that the threat of him taking off made his jab step so effective that he would’ve had time to set himself before for a long three before the defense could recover. Olson claimed him as “one of the best guards he’s ever coached.”

 

 

SF: Richard Jefferson – I’m sure many of you would have RJ as a starter on this All-Star team, after all he’s an athletic freak of nature, can shoot, played tough defense, and was the all-around player. Jefferson was a walking ESPN Top 10 highlight reel.

SF: Hassan Adams – Hassan “Hot Sauce” Adams was vastly underrated in my mind. Adams did what a lot of the other small forwards on this list did, but he pretty much carried the entire team his senior season. He was athletic, a hard worker, and a defensive menace. Just about any time – the ‘05 loss to Illinois excluded – that Adams wanted to get to the rim, he did. The knock on Adams? He was a terrible three-point shooter.

SF: Andre Iguodala – The final wingman to get on this list that was strong, athletic and fast. Iguodala was a good rebounded, a solid defender, and could explode to the rim every time. He is the final wingman on the list because he only played for two years for the ‘Cats before taking off so Adams is ahead of him, and he couldn’t shoot from beyond the arc either, so RJ and Dickerson are ahead of him.

C: Loren Woods – As I said before about centers, I love a guy that is an defensive intimidator. Woods has the highest blocks per game average in UA history with 3.4 (in an Arizona jersey). During a game against Stanford at Maples he set the Arizona record for blocks in a half. The knock I have on Woods is that he frequently found himself out of position for rebounds and didn’t have the interior post moves that Frye, Wright, or Williams (see Old School All-Stars) had.

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