Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tough Crowd to Pick a Fight With

So much of what I know about life I learned from the Andy Griffith Show, but only from the black-and-while episodes before Barney had departed Mayberry for Raleigh and his corner room at the Y.

Anyone looking for moral guidance and common-sense advice could do much worse.

Recently I saw the one where the bad kid, Steve Quincy, shows up in town and turns Opie and all his buddies into young hooligans. Opie knew it was wrong to steal apples from Mr. Foley's store, and he knew it's even worse to throw those apples and knock out street lights. But Steve Quincy was bigger than Opie, and Opie, truth be known, was scared of him.

Since this blog began, I've tried to play the role of Steve Quincy. I want to stir something up. It's been way too quiet, too placid, too harmonious for my taste..

Want to fight? Then step across this line.

Really want to fight? Then knock this chip off my shoulder.

Really, really want to fight? Then step inside this circle.

I've been waiting for somebody like Opie to come along and be willing to do all that. I've drawn the line in the sand, I've placed the chip on my shoulder, I've traced out the circle.

I've awarded Tyler Hansbrough more points than David Thompson (even though Thompson was the better player).

I've made no allowances in my formula for players who were eligible for only three seasons, instead of the four available to any player since 1972-73.

I've even shown the temerity to leave one of the all-time great guys to play in the league, Walter "Sweet D" Davis out of my Hall of Fame entirely.

What do I have to do? Steal apples and break out street lights?

From the day I came up with the idea for The ACC Basketball Book of Fame, I was warned of all the grief I would catch from those who disagreed with my method of selection.

My response was always "I hope so.''

And here I am, a good six weeks after the publication of my book, still hoping.

Surely by now you've read something in the book that got your blood a'boiling. Surely by now you've got a bone to pick.

Surely by now you just have to give me the what-for about something.

That's what I'm here for. That's what the blog is here for.

Where are you?


  1. OK, Dan, you asked for it -

    How in the wide world of sports could you have looked down, seen that Tyler Hansbrough ended up with more points than David Thompson, and not thrown your formula out the window?

    In no possible universe was Tyler Hansbrough a greater college basketball player than David Thompson. Roy Williams doesn’t think Tyler Hansbrough was better than David Thompson. Tyler Hansbrough doesn’t think Tyler Hansbrough was better than David Thompson.

    And you don't think Tyler Hansbrough was better than David Thompson. I heard you sing an entire song about how Thompson was the greatest ACC player ever.

    Weren't you tempted to trash your formula and start over once you added up those points?

  2. Thanks DB, I needed that.
    As I wrote in the book, I didn't spend 40 nights on Mount Sinai and bring the formula down on two stone tablets. It's a good formula, but not a perfect one. And I didn't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, which is what I feel I would have been doing if I trashed the whole formula over this issue.
    True. David Thompson was better than Hansbrough.
    True. I did write and sing a song about it.
    True. Roy Williams would probably agree Thompson was better than Hansbrough.
    True. Hansbrough would probably agree Thompson was better than Hansbrough.
    Having said all that, Hansbrough was a great, great player. I mean a really, great, great player. He was good enough to score more points than anyone ever in the ACC. He was good enough to make first team All-ACC all four years, getting every vote available during his time but one. My good buddy Patrick Stevens was the only voter to relegate Hansbrough to second team, behind R.J. Reynolds in 2007, Hansbrough's sophomore season. That's Patrick's opinion and I have no problem with it. But other than that, it was a clean sweep. There's only one other player to play his entire career receiving every vote cast for first-team All-ACC. You guessed it. It was David Thompson, who again, was better than Tyler Hansbrough.
    But let's get back to Hansbrough. He was a consensus All-America four times, second-team as a freshman and first-team as a sophomore, junior and senior. And he was National POY in 2008. So let's not overlook how good he was for so long.
    My formula, by my estimations, is about 90 percent solid, and 10 percent faulty. I agree it's not as good judging the best vs. the best. The three-year player vs. four-year player conundrum becomes too much of a flaw to overcome. I do believe it's a really good formula for identifying which players belong in the HOF. There's not one player in ACC Basketball Book of Fame that I would say doesn't belong. There are a few -- Dennis Scott, Horace Grant, as examples -- that I would have felt better about it they had made the cut. But that falls back into that 10 percent of the formula that is drawing most of the criticism. And again, I have no trouble with the criticism. You're right. Thompson was better than Hansbrough. And you're right if you believe, as I do, that Dennis Scott belongs in the HOF as well.
    A blue-ribbon panel of 120 "experts" was charged with selecting the All-Time best players in the ACC. The panel selected Bobby Jones, but left off Bob Verga. Any cursory research of ACC basketball history would invalidate that opinion. And these are smart people who I assume were of the best intentions. No process is perfect.
    I'm sticking with Churchill on this one. My formula is the worst method of selecting an ACC Basketball Hall of Fame except for all the others that have been tried.

  3. Dan, I think the formula is outstanding, except that it gave Hansbrough more points than Thompson. There's no question that Hansbrough deserves a spot at the front of the Hall - just not a spot in front of David Thompson.

    Hansbrough has the advantage of playing and starting for - I seem to recall - about 33 straight years. I started to forget that UNC had ever fielded teams without Tyler Hansbrough. Thompson didn't get to play varsity his freshman year, or he surely would have racked up more points than Hansbrough.

    Did you think about adding up the total points for each player, and then dividing that by the number of years they played? That would give Hansbrough an average per-year score of 756.25. Thompson would have 983.33, and all would be right with the universe.

  4. Actually I believe Hansbrough was at UNC 34 years, almost as long as I've been watching the league.

    The reason I didn't account for the three years vs. four is that, in my mind, it's largely counterbalanced by the effects of integration.

    One could actually make a strong case that integration was a bigger factor on a player's career than freshman eligibility.

    Freshmen were first allowed to play in 1972-73, at a time there were still only a handful of blacks playing prominent roles.

    I've just pulled out my trusty ACC Stat Book edited by John Prouty and see that in 1972-73, there were seven black starters in the ACC -- Thompson, John Lucas and Len Elmore at Maryland, Al Drummond at Virginia and Tony Byers, Mike Parrish and Lee Foy at Wake. So UNC, Duke and Clemson all started five whites.

    Flash forward two years to 1973-75, DT's senior year, and 18 of the league's 35 starters were black. Clemson started four black players, Tree Rollins, Stan Rome, Skip Wise and Colon Abraham, and N.C. State started four, DT, Moe Rivers, Kenny Carr and Phil Spence.

    Flash forward a few more years, to 1979-80, and 24 of the 40 starters were black. Full integration had been achieved.

    I did a study once, trying to compare the greatest player ever at Wake, Tim Duncan, to the only other person who would merit consideration, Len Chappell. Chappell, obviously, never played against blacks.

    What did that mean? Well, by 1981-82, all five players named first-team All-ACC were black. Over the next 30 seasons, through 2010-11, there were 150 players picked first-team All-ACC. Thirty were white, 119 were black and one, Greivis Vasquez, was Venezuelan. So that's 80 percent non-white, 20 percent white.

    Ask yourself. Would your chances of ACC Fame and Glory be better playing three years against all-white competition or four against everybody?

    That's why you have to be careful making too many adjustments to the formula. You plug one leaky pipe and another bursts and you've got something else to deal with.

  5. My bad by the way. Lee Foye is spelled Lee Foye, not Lee Foy.
    Sorry Lee.