With the 2012 Olympics well underway and the “Redeem” team talking far too much smack about whether or not they could beat the 1992 Dream Team (the Redeem Team would get stomped, no question), I thought it would be prudent to construct our very own Husky Dream Team composed of 10-12 of UW’s best players ever. Keep in mind that this is my own personal list, feel free to add and debate in the comments below.
Without a doubt, Isaiah Thomas is the first man on my Husky Dream Team roster. I.T. is above and beyond the greatest player to don the Husky purple and gold (with the possible exception of Brandon Roy or Bob Houbregs). Thomas finished a mere 352 points from Chris Welp’s career scoring record of 2073 points. If I.T. had not declared for the draft a year early, Thomas would have demolished the old scoring record by a few hundred points (I used his average of 574 points per season to extrapolate his career total of nearly 2300 points).
On top of scoring, I.T. would have likely set the career record for number of assists as Will Conroy’s record of 515 is just 100 assists ahead of Thomas. With a career average of 138 assists per year, I.T. could have easily battled for the top spot. Thomas may have also finished number 4 in career steals. Perhaps more valuable than the ridiculous statistics I.T brings to the table is his will to win.
Anyone who doubts I.T.’s character and ability to push not only himself, but also his teammates, beyond their limits should simply watch the 2010-2011 Pac-10 tournament one more time. I.T. played an absurd 123 out of 125 minutes and nailed a perfect swish to take home the title and automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. Following the season, I.T. went on to become “Mr. Irrelevant” as the 60th pick in the NBA draft. Unwilling to accept being labeled irrelevant, Thomas fought and battled his way to winning the starting point guard position with the Sacramento Kings; outplay the number one pick, Kyrie Irving; and push his name into contention for NBA Rookie of the Year. On attitude alone, Thomas deserves a spot on this roster.
So who backs up “Mr. Irrelevant?” My vote goes to the a fore mentioned Will Conroy. Conroy was a master distributor and made B-Roy that much better. With amazing court vision, a strong pass, and the basketball IQ to see the smart and safe play, Conroy made a stellar point guard. Conroy was not a prolific shooter during his tenure, but a more than 9 point per game average is nothing to turn a nose up to.
Along side his 25 steal per season average and a career 3-point field goal percentage just over 33%, Conroy did enough to get himself into the NBA D-league where has he earned a few short contracts on NBA teams. I’ll admit I didn’t see many of Conroy’s early games, but his statistics yell consistency and consistency is key to any successful team. Just look at this past season and team to see why consistency is so important to winning. With I.T. likely playing 30 to 35 minutes per game, Conroy would be left with only 10 to 15 minutes a night to make his impact felt, but I have no doubt the duo of Seattle native point guards would tear apart the competition’s defense.
A pair of stars at the point guard demands equally impressive shooting guards. The greatest shooting guard to light up Hec-Ed is Brandon Roy. A Husky dream roster without Brandon Roy is a fallacy and an insult to the sporting world. B-Roy was absolutely destructive his senior season.
Roy averaged over 20 points per game on his way to become the 6th overall pick in the NBA draft. A quick side note, the Husky record book incorrectly labels his season scoring average for that year under the Season Scoring section. It read 14.3 ppg (his career average), but should read 20.2 ppg. B-Roy was not only a scoring machine, he was a play making machine. With nearly 1.5 steals, over 4 assists, and just over 5.5 rebounds per night, Roy was a demolition crew that stuffed the stat sheet day in and day out.
Where Roy further distances himself from his competition comes from his various shooting percentages during that final year. Roy averaged over 50% from the field, 40% from range, and a very solid 81% at the charity stripe where games are won and lost. Much like I.T., B-Roy was a winner with a ferocious attitude that demanded respect and commanded fear from his opponents. The 2005-2006 Huskies came out of nowhere and stormed the basketball world with scrappy basketball, in-your-face defense, and a never-give-up attitude that carried them into the sweet 16 where UConn stole the win from us thanks to the zebras officiating the game.
Backing up Brandon Roy is no short order. In my mind, the only choice for the #2 in the 2-slot is Terrence Ross. While Ross was not always the big star predicted coming in to his sophomore/final season, his crazy NIT performances and excellent workouts led to the Toronto Raptors selecting Ross with the 8th overall pick in the NBA draft. Ross is a freak athlete with unlimited range and the ability to finish the most absurd shots next to the basket. Embodying everything that B-Roy excelled at, Ross also developed a mean cross-over move that froze the defense to open up the floor for his beautiful mid-range game.
In only 3 games as a sophomore was Ross held to single digit scoring. What is interesting is that Ross’ highest and lowest scoring totals in the regular season came against WSU, 30 and 2 respectively. As I discussed earlier, consistency is key in developing a dominant team and Ross was a consistent scoring threat who only began to show his superstar potential before departing for the bright lights of the big stage. Averaging 25 points per game during the NIT is no small task. A shooting guard who can score in droves is no unique snowflake. What helps separate Roy and Ross from the competition is their ability to rebound the ball on top of their scoring prowess. While Roy averaged 5.6 boards a night, Ross was able to average nearly 6.5 a night in his final year. I would argue that Ross had a higher rebounding average due to the fact that he took less shots than B-Roy and therefore had more opportunities to crash the glass.
The number 3 slot is a bit tougher to consider given the recent history of solid shooting guards who have often slide between playing the 2 and 3. My first pick would have to go to the real 2009 Pac-10 MVP, Quincy Pondexter. Pondexter had a B-Roy type explosion his senior year in terms of productivity. Pondexter had averaged around 10 points per game his first 3 years as a Husky. When Pondexter’s final year came around, Pondexter put the team on his back and averaged just under 20 points per game leading to a record five Pac-10 Player of the Week awards (more than Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, or any other of the Pac-10 greats).
Pondexter did it all for the Dawgs; scoring at will; rebounding with attitude and tenacity, finishing the season with an average just under 7.5 boards a night; playing the tough, scrappy defense the Huskies are known for with a 1.3 steal per night average; dishing out close to 2 assists a night; and finished the year with amazing shooting percentages at 53%, 35%, and 83% from the field, 3-point line, and foul line respectively.
Pondexter started every game in his last two seasons as a Dawg because he knew how to win and put in the work to ensure that the Huskies would come out victorious. What I love most about Pondexter was his ability to become an absurdly clutch foul shooter. Pondexter put up four perfect foul shot nights of at least 8 attempts, including two games where he went an amazing 11 for 11. While Pondexter might not be “cold-blooded,” he did nail his own game winner in a back-and-forth battle against Marquette in the NCAA tournament.
Personally, I struggled to come up with a real solid back-up at the 3. Tre Simmons is a decent choice in my mind. Ryan Appleby could certainly be in the mix, but he is a bit undersized. While it is still early, C.J. Wilcox could be another undersized choice for the 3 slot or perhaps move Ross to the 3 and have Wilcox or Appleby slide in at the 2. Justin Holiday is another guy I might look at for the 3 due to his defensive abilities. Unfortunately, my Husky knowledge only goes back about 10 years so my picks aren’t always the most educated and I’ve likely missed a solid wing in the years preceding my attention to the Dawgs. I’m hoping one of you readers can come up with someone to either assist or take over at the 3.
Back in his day, Bob Houbregs was considered the big man on the court and certainly played with the level of domination expected of such a large individual. Though he was a 5 during the ’50s, Houbregs is too small to be a center in today’s basketball arena and would be pushed out to the 4 slot; whether or not Houbregs would have the same level of success at the 4 is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is how great Houbregs was and what type of impact he had on the Husky squad. Averaging nearly 35 points per game in the post season of his NCAA Player of the Year season where he led the Dawgs to their first and only Final Four, Houbregs was unstoppable.
Houbregs still holds the Husky records for most points in a single game, 49, and most points in a season, 846. Houbregs actually holds the top 3 single game scoring records with 49, 45, and 42 points. Houbregs remains number 4 on the all time scoring list and second in career point average with 19.3 points per game. Houbregs is head and shoulders above fellow Huskies in career 30+ point games with 13. Next highest is Todd MacCulloch with 8. Houbregs remains the highest selected Husky in the NBA draft where he went number 2 overall to the Milwaukee Hawks.
Another 4 who played a lot of 5 in his day is Jon Brockman. The difference is that Brockman did his dirty work in the modern era where he was certainly undersized for a deep post player. What allowed Brockman to not only achieve, but dominate in the middle was his work ethic and I-will-be-better-than-you attitude. Brockman would run through a brick wall to get to a loose ball if it was in his way. Brockman suffered a small fracture in his hip following a hard rebound in the NCAA tournament where he landed on his side and literally bounced off the floor. Did he sit around and mope about it? Nope, he got right back up and ran down the court. Beast mode.
Brockman is the most dominate rebounder to grace the Huskies. Brockman led the Pac-10 in rebounding 3 straight years and went on to set the Husky record for career rebounds with 1283, 232 more than the number 2 career rebounder. Brockman is another player whose attitude alone is worth putting him on the roster. Brockman was and remains the type of player who does whatever is asked of him to make the team better. After averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds per game his junior season, Brockman was primed to explode for 25 a night his senior year. Brockman realized his team would have a higher success rate if he stepped back his scoring and helped clear space for freshman Isaiah Thomas to work the rim.
The Brockness Monster still averaged a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds a game his final year and proved why he should be an idol and model for any up and coming player.
The Huskies have a very solid pair of centers for the Dream Team. Chris Welp and Todd MacCulloch. Who to start is a tougher task than in the previous selections, but my personal preference would be MacCulloch. While Welp holds the scoring record for the Dawgs, this Dream Team already possesses scoring, what it needs is another dominate rebounder and force in the middle. MacCulloch is a massive man standing at 7-0 and 280lbs. He sucks up space on defense and scores with ease on offense. MacCulluch holds the top two slots for single game rebounds (since 1977) with 21 in each on top of 6 other games of 17+ rebounds.
As a senior, MacCulloch averaged an unbelievable stat line of 19 points, 12 rebounds, and a 66% field goal percentage. MacCulloch led the NCAA Division-1 league in field goal percentage his final three years, becoming only the second player to ever achieve such a feat. MacCulloch is fifth all time in scoring with 1743 points, averaging around 15 points a night. His season averages of 67.6%, 67.5%, 66.2%, and 65.0% fill the top four slots for season field goal percentage and his career average of 66.4% is more than 7% better than second place. MacCulloch also holds the top two slots for best field goal percentage in a single game with a 10-10 night and a 14-15 outing. He is tied for third with a 13-14 game against California.
Christian Welp is the final player on my Husky Dream Team roster. The all time career scoring leader for the Huskies stands at 7-0 245lbs and was a huge success as an offensive player for the Dawgs during the mid 1980s when the Huskies shared a pair of Pac-10 titles. Welp was also a member of the 1984 team that went on to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years. With a career field goal shooting average of 56.2%, third all time, and the second highest single season scoring record, Welp is certainly another weapon that this Dream Team could utilize. Welp is also the leader in career blocks with 186 and a season high of 67 and was the team leader in blocks all four seasons with the Dawgs. He also leads the Huskies in most fouls in a single season and career, something that also helps MacCulloch get the starting nod. Welp finished 5 rebounds shy of 1000 for his career and is 4th all time for the Dawgs. Welp won the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year award in 1984 and is the only other Husky outside B-Roy to win Pac-10 Player of the Year (1986).
So that’s my list. What do you think? Would this team find success? Am I missing key players? Let me know in the comments below.