Georgetown and Syracuse are playing their last game in the Carrier Dome as Big East rivals. For those of us that grew up in the northeast, G’Town-Cuse was our Carolina-Duke. The final G’Town-Cuse battle won’t come until March 9, each team’s regular season finales heading into the conference tournament; but the reminiscing has begun. With Cuse leaving for the ACC and G’Town bouncing with the rest of the Big East’s non-FBS schools, we’ll soon be left with nothing but memories.
Although UCONN has entered the conversation over the last 15 years with its two championships and glut of NBA lottery picks, Georgetown and Syracuse were always the conference’s two marquee programs. And they definitely own the two most prestigious alumni crews. We’re talking slews of college legends.
So, just for kicks, let’s say you could take every player that ever donned a Hoyas or Orangmen jersey and pick a starting five – who’d you rock with? These are my five. (IMPORTANT NOTE: This is based on the players’ college careers only.)
C – Patrick Ewing, Georgetown (1981-1985): Probably the greatest collegiate either of these programs produced. Led G’Town to three straight NCAA Finals, winning a championship in ’84. Three-time first team All American. MOP of the ’84 Final Four. Ewing’s henchman – mean-mugging power forward Michael Graham – might have been the visceral manifestation of the John Thompson-inspired play that led to Hoya Paranoia; but Ewing was its physical manifestation. The angry dunks, the lane-prowling, the type of blocks that were the genesis of the “get that $#!% outta here” motif – legendary.
PF – Alonzo Mourning, Georgetown (1988-1992): I thought I was going to go with Derrick Coleman, here. D.C.’s game was so ill. But his college career can’t compete with with Zo’s. Coleman bumrushed the American conscious with his 19-rebound performance in the 1987 NCAA Finals, but in his next three years, although he had his share of signature performances, he never had another game that singular. Zo, on the other hand, never made a Final Four (his Hoyas lost in two straight Elite Eight games, one against his Class of ’88 rival Christian Laettner), but he was a three-time All American and finished his college career as the NCAA leader in blocks. Plus, he’s among my five favorite college players ever (along with Kenny Anderson, Jalen Rose, Khalid El-Amin and Chris Jackson).
SF – Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse (2002-2003): Both of these programs are a little slim on small forwards. G’Town’s Reggie Williams and Cuse’s Stephen Thompson bear mentioning, but neither were college greats. Melo, however, has managed to enter NCAA lore with only one season under his championship belt. He was the best freshman I ever watched – better than Kenny Anderson, better than Kevin Durant, better than Derrick Rose…better than Chris Jackson. He had 33 and 14 in Cuse’s Final Four vic’ over Texas and then followed it up with a clutch 20-point, 10-board, seven-assist performance in the Finals. He’s been an exceptional pro, but, in many ways, his career has never reached the heights of his freshman season at Cuse. That says a lot.
G – Allen Iverson, G’Twon (1994-1996): Averaged 25 ppg in his sophomore season, which – when you view it in the context of shorter college games where many teams barely average 70 ppg – adds perspective to just how prolific A.I. was. And we won’t even get into the sociocultural impact of watching the kid – hosed by America’s criminal justice system – with an all-time sick game, balling in the Hoyas’ kente-cloth uniforms.
G – Sherman Douglas, Syracuse (1985-1989): I could have went with Cuse’s other all-time great guard, Pearl Washington, but Sherm (a.k.a. The General) was my dude as a little kid. He was one of the progenitors of “the lob” – tossing up perfect alley-oops to D.C., Thompson, Ronny Seikaly and others. Sherm was a two-time All American (first team in ’89) and left Cuse as the NCAA’s all-time leader in assists. Best point guard in Big East history not named Mark Jackson.
If I could choose a sixth man, I’d pick Victor Paige…just because.