Sept. 8, 2004
In honor of ESPN's 25th anniversary on Sept. 7, I'm taking a look back at the best players and coaches I've seen and covered over my 25 seasons with the network. Some of this is in my book, "Living a Dream: Reflections on 25 Years Sitting in the Best Seat in the House." I've been very fortunate to see the best of the best over the years as a courtside analyst for ESPN and ABC. I'm sure these lists will lead to some interesting debates, baby!
All-Frank Lloyd Wright Coaches
|Coach John Chaney decided his suspension should extend through the A-10 tourney.|
These coaches are great builders, architects of their programs with unbelievable creative ability. They have incredible leadership skills to take programs to great heights when many people thought it would be impossible to reach the winner's circle on a consistent basis at their schools.
Lute Olson | Arizona
Bobby Cremins | Georgia Tech
Jim Calhoun | Connecticut
John Chaney | Temple
Mike Montgomery | Stanford
All-Windex Glass Eaters
This group features rebounding machines, guys who absolutely went after every rebound like it was their last meal. They flat-out attacked the glass!
Shaquille O'Neal | LSU
Jerome Lane | Pittsburgh
Xavier McDaniel | Wichita State
Hank Gathers | Loyola-Marymount
LaSalle Thompson | Texas
All-Bob Vila Team
These players built themselves into stars. They came out of nowhere. This group doesn't feature a bunch of McDonald's All-Americans, but they simply worked hard and made themselves into special players.
David Robinson | Navy
Tim Duncan | Wake Forest
Juan Dixon | Maryland
Hollis Price | Oklahoma
Ron Harper | Miami-Ohio
Sept. 7, 2004
All-Velcro Defensive Stoppers
Hey, to win on any level, you need guys who will sacrifice for a team. These guys will make the defensive stop in crunch time and they will take the charge. This group certainly played tenacious defense, baby!
Stacey Augmon | UNLV
Shane Battier | Duke
Gary Payton | Oregon State
Eric Murdock | Providence
Gene Smith | Georgetown
This group features shot blockers deluxe, guys who said, "Thou shalt not enter the lane." They would take away and eliminate many of the defensive mistakes that happened on the perimeter.
Patrick Ewing | Georgetown
David Robinson | Navy
Alonzo Mourning | Georgetown
Adonal Foyle | Colgate
Dikembe Mutombo | Georgetown
All-Thomas Edison Point Guards
These guys were innovators and creators. They were extensions of their coaches on the court. When things broke down, they would simply take the rock and create opportunities by beating their defenders.
Bobby Hurley | Duke
Mark Jackson | St. John's
Pearl Washington | Syracuse
Kenny Smith | North Carolina
Mark Price | Georgia Tech
Sept. 6, 2004
All-Dipsy Doo "Dunkeroos"
These are for the high risers, the elevator men, the guys who play up, up and away -- the guys who are human highlight films and are always on SportsCenter because of their incredible athleticism and their amazing dunking ability. There have been a lot of great dunkers on the college landscape over the years, but here are my top five:
Darrell Griffith | Louisville Cardinals -- The Doctor of Dunk!
|Harold Miner's nickname was Baby Jordan because of his soar-ability.|
Kenny Battle | Illinois Fighting Illini -- He could flat-out sky with monster dunks.
Jerome Lane | Pittsburgh Panthers -- Everyone will always remember ESPN analyst Bill Raftery's call of "send it in Jerome."
Harold Miner | USC Trojans -- Some called him Baby Jordan.
Len Bias | Maryland Terrapins -- It's sad that his life ended so prematurely. What a great, great athlete and player.
All-AT&T Long Distance
Is there anything better in the game of basketball than to see a player who's skilled and absolutely fundamentally solid shooting the jump shot? It's an art form to square up, get a great look and tickle the twine. These guys represent the best -- nothing but nylon, baby!
Chris Mullin | St. John's Red Storm -- Coach Lou Carnesecca loved having him in the lineup. He was part of the last St. John's team to reach the Final Four.
Steve Alford | Indiana Hoosiers -- He was an automatic for the Hoosiers under coach Robert Montgomery Knight, as good a pure shooter as I've seen in the collegiate game.
Chris Jackson | LSU Tigers -- He was absolutely incredible right out of the blocks as a freshman.
Calbert Cheaney | Indiana Hoosiers -- Another outstanding player on the baseline.
Reggie Miller | UCLA Bruins -- He has also enjoyed a great pro career draining the trifectas.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.