Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ranking the Bama Greats-Point Guard

This is the first in a series of retrospective looks at Bama hoops history. A few comments about this series.....1. This is one man's opinion and I certainly welcome the feedback and comments of other Bama hoops junkies. 2. These rankings are based on their Alabama careers(including some level of projection for one current player), NOT their NBA career. 3. My Bama hoops perspective dates back to the very early 80's. I have included some of CM's players in this series based on the perspective I've gained from my family and friends that have followed hoops back into the 70's. Of course, the Rocket 8 period is a crucial part of Bama hoops history. And I want to make sure that it is noted that their absence in these rankings is not intended to discount their value in our history. Nevertheless, please keep in mind that when I say UA hoops history, I'm talking early 1970's to present.

Here we go....

Ranking the point guards.

1. Ron Steele. I know. He's only a sophmore. He hasn't won a single SEC tournament title, regular season title nor has he taken his team to the sweet 16. Nevertheless, I think he's the best pt. guard we've had. Let's look at the roles a point guard plays: 1. Leadership 2. Ball handling 3. Passing 4. Perimeter shooting 5. Defense 6. Ability to penetrate and create open shots for teammates 7. Free Throws. Where's the weakness? He's not the best in Bama history at all those categories but he's pretty damn close and he's going to be with us 2 more years and have a bundle of records(and hopefully wins) when he leaves. He'll make this much less debatable over the next 2 years.

2. Ennis Whatley. Probably the most exciting player to play at Alabama. Ennis would have spent hours in the Sportscenter nightly highlights. He was another great UA point guard. He was the best penetrator and creator of open shots for teammates that we've had. If he had Ron Steele's outside touch, Ennis would have been an NBA All-Star. One of the first players I can recall that left college after 2 years. I suspect he'd like to go back and do it again, but he was certainly enjoyable while we had him.

3. Antoine Pettway. Leadership, Leadership, Leadership. Isn't that what PG is all about? Antoine is the best leader in the history of the program--coach or player. Fearless. Tireless. Clutch. He quarterbacked a team with solid but not great talent to the great 8--the best tournament run in UA hoops history. You look at the categories listed above with which I think you'd evaluate a PG and he was the best at one of them and probably wasn't top 3 at any other. But, he was a pure blessing for Mark Gottfried and UA hoops(think for a second about how different the CMG evaluation might be if Pett hadn't made that runner against S. Illinois...) Pett willed himself into a solid 3-point shooter. He was a pretty good ball handler. One of the least appreciated aspects of Pett's game was his ability to will the ball in the hoop from the paint in traffic. He consistently made amazing plays close to the goal. Thank god for Pett. Thrilled he is still directly associated with our program. And oh yeah...Thanks for that first year's tuition Mr. and Mrs. Pett!!!!

4. Terry Conner. Great leader. Catch the theme? Winner. Not the best shooter outside of 16 feet, but inside that range, he was deadly. Great general. Clutch performer. Best penetrator and creator of shots for others we've had. Terry just plain got it done. He had very good players around him, but other than the Hobbs era, there really hasn't been any players come through T-town that didn't have a bunch of years playing with other great players. Terry was the clear leader(and most underrated player, IMO) on the best team in UA hoops modern history(I know. Yet another debate. Bring it on 1976 people).

5. Gary Waites One of the most unfortunate knee injuries in UA sports history(with apologies to Kerry Goode and Marvin Constant). What if today's technology existed in 1988? Would Gary be further up the list and have made a great deal more money playing basketball? I say hell yes. Nevertheless, he was still a GREAT player. Gary and #5 on the list were probably more talented individually than at least 2 ranked ahead of them, but being a PG isn't as much about the individual talent, from this point of view. Gary could shoot. Great ball handler. Solid defender(but wasn't everyone other than Hollywood a very good defender under the Plaid man?). Terry was very good and he has been a friend to UA hoops long after his playing days were over.

Honorable Mention: Anthony Murray & Robert Scott & Mo Williams

That wraps up the first in the series. I welcome feedback. UA hoops history is fun for me to discuss. There have been some great times over the past 25 years thanks to these guys.


Anonymous said...

I love Pettway. One of my favorite Bama players ever but you there's no way you can rank him above Terry Coner. Coner ran the point for three years and put up great assist numbers and was a an efficient scorer and outstanding defender. Also led his team to three straight sweet 16s

bobbyjack said...

I can't comment on Waites and Conner as both were before my time, but IMO at this moment in time I believe Pettway gets the nod over Steele... at least until next year. Right now it's close, but thinking back as of now we have more Pettway memorable moments than Steele moments.

Mo IMO tailed off a bit his sophomore year, but that's partially due to him having to pick up the scoring slack.

Good write up.

Edit... typos galore on previous comments.

Alias said...

I don't know how we can leave out Ennis Whatley and James "Hollywood" Robinson. Didn't they both play the point? As much as I love Pettway, I don't see him as being in their league.

bobbyjack said...

Hollywood was a SG. Man was he a SG... after Horry and Sprewell left he took just about every shot imaginable.

WL said...

You are right Alias. I had a brain cramp on Ennis. Hollywood was a 2-guard, though.

Alias said...

I think he was a two guard, but one of my favorites was Kent Looney. (I apologize if I mispelled that.) He was only 5-10 or 5-11, but he was fast as lightening and could dunk the ball with two hands.

I remember Looney getting into it with Stan Petkavitch (another spelling challenge there) in Coleman Coliseum one night. Kent (I think I can spell that) thought Stan (g) didn't get off the top of him quickly enough and began flailing away with fists and feet while seated on the floor. That sight alone was worth his scholarship IMO.

Hville said...

I believe if Mo had played more than 2 years, then he would be alot higher as well.

Where's the love for Tariq London? :)

WL said...

I thought about including Elliot Washington as honorable mention for that one shot alone.

Agree on Mo, but he didn't so he isn't. I think Ennis just had much more of an impact on the program. That's why he's ranked high under the same 2-year program. I'm still scratching my head on how I left him out originally.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this post about Bama point guards. I grew up in the area that TC(Terry Conner) and Enimo(Enis Mo Whatley)lived played with them in vatious rec centers around Birmingham. Mo was the absolute best point guard to come out of Birmingham to this date. TC was 1b. Both of those guys come from Phillips High and played a style of basketball that every high school point guard in Alabama tries to imitate to this day.

Notice a theme of of great point gurads coming out of the Birmingham are Mo, TC, Ron Steele, Eric Bledsoe, Rah Rah list goes on. In rec centers and gyms in Birmingham if you did not have an all around game as a point guard you did not touch the floor. Mo was the best to ever play that spot. Before a high school injury he sustained against dunking a basketball against Parker high he had one of the sweetest jumps shots you ever seen. As eighth grader during AAU tournament Bobby Knight watched him and I quote said(I have just seen the best point guard in the coutry and he is only and eighth grader)" Nuff said!!1