SI Vault
 
Jewel of a Duel
Grant Wahl
March 06, 2006
Linked at the top of the scoring race and the AP poll, shooting stars Adam Morrison of Gonzaga and J.J. Redick of Duke can't both be the best in college basketball. �Or can they? �SI's panel of players answers this question and others
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 06, 2006

Jewel Of A Duel

Linked at the top of the scoring race and the AP poll, shooting stars Adam Morrison of Gonzaga and J.J. Redick of Duke can't both be the best in college basketball. �Or can they? �SI's panel of players answers this question and others

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2

Ultimately, it's worth noting that Redick's and Morrison's regular seasons have transcended those of any recent players of the year, and there's growing sentiment for not choosing between them at all-simply to vote RedMo and leave it at that. "I can't pick one. That wouldn't be fair," says another Big East voter. "You've got to split the award this year because they both have had phenomenal seasons."

In the SI poll, however, 56.1% of the voters chose Redick and 33.3% picked Morrison. (Seven players, who presumably have been spending their downtime on Neptune, split their votes among four other candidates.) While voting for Redick and Morrison was a virtual dead heat in four of the six conferences ( ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-10), Redick built his margin of victory in the Big East and the SEC, in which he outpolled Morrison by a combined 18-5.

The votes of players and the media for various awards are out of the control of Redick and Morrison, but the two have a direct influence on who wins the scoring crown. Though each one says he would rather win a national title-"If J.J. gets first and I get second [in the scoring race], then so be it," says Morrison-Redick admits to keeping an eye out for Gonzaga results. "I'll check the box score online to see how many [points] Adam had," Redick says. "Neither one of us probably wants to admit it, but we know what each other's stats are."

Because Redick and Morrison communicate so often in their digital-driven friendship-by cellphone, text-messaging and their Halo 2 headsets-it's easy to forget they've met in person only once, at the 2004 Michael Jordan summer camp. Off the court they're not much alike. Once a hard partyer, Redick has reformed; he just finished reading the evangelical Christian best seller The Purpose-Driven Life. Morrison is a lefty contrarian who once responded to his coach's request that his players attend church by writing religion is the opiate of the masses on the locker room whiteboard. While Morrison says he'd "probably be in one of those student-activist groups" if he didn't play basketball, Redick stays out of the political fray. So why do these guys get along so well? "The common denominator is that we both love basketball," Redick says. "As long as we have that, whether Adam likes Karl Marx isn't going to bother me."

For fellow hoops lovers, of course, there's only one ideal way to settle the player-of-the-year debate: on the court. What if Redick and Morrison's second meeting took place, say, at the regional final in Atlanta on March 25? "I think a lot of people would like to see that game," says Redick. Both players envision the NCAA tournament committee's placing Duke (as a No. 1 seed) and Gonzaga (as a No. 2) in the same region.

For that matter, what if we recognized the arguments for what they are at this point-an entertaining way to pass the time until March Madness-and held off declaring the player of the year until after the NCAA tournament? "It would be nice," says Morrison, "because how you perform in the tournament should [factor into] the award." After all, the national championship is decided on the court. RedMo's historic duel deserves the same fate.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

By The Numbers
The race for national player of the year can't get much tighter


1 2