Most Reviled Player: J.J. Redick, Duke
His story has become something of American legend — as transcribed by a Libyan cleric. Armed with a vicious shot, a cocky stride and donned in an unmistakable shroud of Durham blue, Duke sniper J.J. Redick easily earns the Gottlieb Award for the most repugnant figure in all of college hoops.
The scourge of basketball fans along the Atlantic Seaboard, Redick may have no rival in any sport, college or pro, in terms of sheer distastefulness. So what fuels this unabashed display of baller hatred? Well, for one thing — and it deserves second mention — he plays for Duke. Yet, more importantly, and as is often the case with oft-abhorred sharpshooters, facts can be stubborn things.
In a conference of unprecedented slasher talent, Redick, a pure shooter, led the league in scoring by a hefty margin. Averaging over 40 percent from behind the arc, the Blue Devil junior frequently tosses up his finest performances against Duke’s equally capable in-state rivals.
In a pair of games against Wake Forest this season, Redick poured in 33 and 38 points, respectively. Factor in that smug expression plastered across his face after every successful attempt and it’s no wonder Redick is known as the cock of the walk in Durham — and just a cock everywhere else.
Dastardliest deed: Chris Paul, Wake Forest
Although college sports often revolve around the heralded border battle, basketball in North Carolina more closely resembles civil war. During one skirmish in Raleigh less than a month ago, a melee broke out between Wake Forest and N.C. State players over a loose-ball rebound. As soon as the scuffle ended, and the Wolfpack emerged with possession, Demon Deacon point man Chris Paul snuck up behind veteran swingman Julius Hodge and punched him square in the groin.
Hodge crumpled to the ground, his brother Steve — who stormed out on to the court to raise the initial call of shenanigans — was ejected from the game on Senior Night and Paul eventually hit the game-winning shot. Afterward, a cowardly Paul denied the insufferable act, claiming he held too much respect for Hodge to pull such a stunt. The game film proved otherwise.
After the reels showed Paul guilty, in flagrante delicto, of the cheap shot, the ACC’s golden child earned a slap-on-the-wrist suspension of one game. The incident, however, earned placement in the annals of basketball history as the single most reprehensible on-the-court act in recent memory.
Loudest dropout: P.J. Tucker, Texas
Academic probation is hardly a rarity in the present state of higher education. After all, anyone reading this paper could, with little stretch of the imagination, picture at least one friend sitting at home playing Quarterback Club ’98 on a beer-stained recliner. Why would big-ticket scholarship athletes prove any different?
Because they only have to maintain a passing grade in a comical major long enough to secure a little interest from off campus? Yeah, well, common sense far too often comes at a premium.
Although, whereas most athletes who flunk a class or two make a brief appearance on their school’s sports info department web site, sometimes the affair makes slightly more of a ruckus. With no further ado, the chief ruckus maker of 2005 and the recipient of the Gottlieb Award for biggest dumbass: Longhorn small forward P.J Tucker.
With Texas’ leading scorer and rebounder in the lineup, the Longhorns blasted modest expectations to run amidst the titans of the Big 12. Extending an impressive home win streak — shadowed only by Wisconsin’s — Texas rolled to within striking distance of a conference crown with just weeks left in the regular season.
But it wasn’t to be. Just as the squad began to hit its stride and a bevy of mighty opponents sat on the docket, the troubled Tucker bade a hasty retreat. Suffice it to say, afterward, the Longhorns weren’t worth a warm cup of spit, to use the local vernacular.
Police blotter all-star: Pierre Pierce, Iowa
“Trusting too much to others has been the ruin of many,” goes an old German proverb. Hawkeye head coach Steve Alford apparently never heard that one.
Tagged as a troublemaker following an alleged sexual assault in 2002, swingman Pierre Pierce represented many things to the good people of Iowa. To some he was the future of Hawkeye basketball. To others he signaled the program’s hope for ending a long tournament exile. And to still others, Pierce was an oil stain on the otherwise pristine — if not flat-out ordinary — driveway of Iowa hoops.
For a while, it appeared the optimists were in the right. As Pierce led the way with his explosive baseline drives, the Hawkeyes stormed to an early 12-1 record and their first AP ranking since anyone can remember. In time, however, the inevitable occurred.
Pierce, who led his team in scoring for the second time in his young career, again found himself atop the Hawkeyes in a more dubious category — criminal charges. The official tally this time: first-degree burglary, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, false imprisonment, fourth-degree criminal mischief, and two counts of domestic assault. Bravo, Pierre, that’s got to be some kind of conference record.
Most Wagnerian blunder: Hassan Adams, Arizona
To be fair, Hassan Adams only deserves a portion of this honor. Certainly part of it belongs to Arizona head coach Lute Olson for putting the ball in anyone but Salim Stoudamire’s hands and the rest to the Wildcats at large for blowing a double-digit lead like a sailor blows a stipend on shore leave (no, not on hookers, just quickly). At any rate, Adams took the final shot … or didn’t, for that matter.
With just 11.8 seconds remaining in overtime and Illinois grasping desperately to a one-point lead, Olson decided to give the ball to the junior forward, looking for something to develop in the paint. A decent plan except for one slight problem: Adams, despite his prowess in the post, frequently struggles with passing and on the long-range shot against even the most shoddy defenses of the Pac-10. With Illinois on patrol, Adams never had a chance.
Naturally, the Fighting Illini guarded the passing lanes inside where center Channing Frye lay in waiting. Wary of losing possession on the extra pass, Adams held the ball until forced to heave an off-balance, zero-percentage shot from the perimeter. Only decorum demands it actually be described as a shot — the ball went in the general direction of the hoop.
It was abundantly clear what Olson wanted to do, to everyone, including Illinois head coach Bruce Weber. Unfortunately, neither Olson nor Adams had a Plan B.
Most hapless helmsman: Bill Self, Kansas
In Bill Self’s tenure at Illinois, the coach proved himself adept at just one thing — siphoning coveted prospects off the prep courts of the Windy City. While achieving modest success from time to time, the highly talented Self squads were like chickens without a head. Genetically engineered attack chickens, perhaps, but lacking any sense of unity or direction. They staged upsets and suffered mind-numbing losses with no apparent rhyme or reason.
When Self took the top job at Kansas (read: in the state of Kansas), he inherited a skilled group constructed by Roy Williams, now of North Carolina. Heading into the 2004-05 campaign, most expected the Jayhawks to easily take the Big 12 — if not the national title — and for a while, it seemed almost a foregone conclusion. Then, the befuddling losses began to rain down.
Kansas, fittingly, ended the season on the lowest note of all — losing to 14th-seeded Bucknell in the opening round of the Big Dance. Bucknell … of the Patriot League … a team that didn’t even bother to bring a freakin’ band. Man, it takes a lot to top the unprecedented buffoonery of Mike Davis down in Bloomington.
A hearty huzzah to Self for proving anything is possible if you just don’t give a damn.
Most artless rock chucker: Kyle Shiloh, Nevada
There’s nothing more thoroughly infuriating than a perimeter shooter who refuses to admit a cold hand. No, wait, there’s always that perimeter shooter who just straight up can’t shoot … from anywhere. But a player like that could never start on a D-I squad, right?
Well one point man from the University of Nevada proves otherwise. In his sophomore season, one-guard Kyle Shiloh, averaging 29.2 minutes per game, poured in a grand total of 16 treys on 74 looks from behind the arc. His shooting percentage on the whole barely peeks above 30 percent and Shiloh, as a coup de grace, only hit 61.3 percent of his opportunities from the charity stripe, as a guard.
Yet, Shiloh and his mighty 3-point percentage of 21.6 aren’t terribly unusual for the Wolfpack. Sporting an embarrassing perimeter shooting mark of 27.0 on the season, Nevada’s lack of outside acuity of any kind became well documented heading into the tournament. Oddly enough, the Wolfpack’s superstar at the five-spot, Nick Fazekas, led the dismal effort from the arc with an impressive mark of 33-for-101 — well, impressive for a low post player anyway.
However, despite the trials, the tribulations and the fact that he straight up sucks, Shiloh still boldly attempted his ritual three or four 3-point shots per game down to the bitter end. A model of perseverance is Kyle Shiloh.