REACT: Who is the greatest college player of all time?
Sports Illustrated asked its writers to weigh in with their picks for the greatest college basketball player of all time. Read through their selections and then tell us yours.
OK, you are locked in a video library with tapes of every Final Four game in NCAA history. All of them, dating back to when 64 was a number only associated with Crayola and "Selection Sunday" was some church-run buffet.
Heaven. Except you can only choose one game.
You'll walk up and down the aisles for hours, you'll almost reach for Lew vs. E., Bird vs. Magic, Laettner vs. Buzzer, Villanova vs. Odds and whatever else is there post-1990, when people like me stopped paying rabid attention.
But if you are like me (and I pray that in matters other than college hoop you are not) in the end, you'll lunge for the 1973 semifinal between Providence and Memphis, the game before Greg Lee's lobs made Bill Walton. The Friars lost 98-85, but whatever of the world was watching got to see a comet up close.
You don't even have to look at the whole game. Watch the first half. Or just the first 12 minutes, when Providence raced out to a 25-12 lead
Ernie DiGregorio now greets customers at Foxwoods Casino. His official title is "Celebrity Host." This is not about Ernie DiGregorio. This is about Ernie D.
Local kid from North Providence. Six-foot tall in his and our dreams. A post-Watergate Cousy. Maravich, if he passed up every third shot. Bird with wheels.
We're not talking about how things turned out later on (even though he was NBA Rookie of the Year in an injury-shortened career). We're talking about what makes a college basketball player suicide-sprint past the time line of merely great. What makes him indelible. Why, when you shake his hand before you drop a couple grand at the $25 Pai-Gow table, it's always 32 years ago, and he is always throwing a 60-foot behind-the-back pass on the run to Kevin Stacom.
That's right. You heard me. Foul line to foul line, behind the back, to Stacom. No bounce. Lay-in. Ernie D. threw three behind-the-back passes for lay-ups in those first 12 minutes, the other two merely from half-court, before Marvin Barnes went down with a knee injury (and about a year and 12 minutes before he became the People vs. Marvin Barnes). The depthless Friars never recovered. Memphis trailed by nine at the half, then came back to move on. Ernie D. finished with 32 points, valiantly hoisting 36 shots. The three-time All America (with a 20.5 points-per-game career average) and eventual ECAC Player of the Decade made the all-tournament team with Walton, who did I mention was made by Greg Lee? But I'm just wasting your time now.
The woman in charge of video check-out is right over there. Go bring her the tape.