Bob Bender is doing just fine

I would like to make a small comment regarding all the scuttlebutt I'm hearing, both large and small, about Bob Bender. I guess he is about the worst thing to come around since the bubonic plague? It's unbelievable to me to read some of the things that have been written.

It would be like saying that Rick Neuheisel should be fired for the blowouts and lack of defense in this last season.

Bender and his staff have excellent new players and are becoming a rock solid presence in the recruiting of this area. Washington High School Basketball (especially Puget Sound area) has never been better. I've seen comments ranging from misguided to just plain idiotic. Let's just take a look at a few at face value, shall we?

For instance, "Errol Knight is a bust".

He's been a starting guard as a true freshman on a Pac-10 team. Let's just dismiss Errol Knight, because he's not beating up on the likes of USC, UCLA, Arizona, Stanford and Cal as a true freshman, right? Come on. Donald Watts was a mess his first year, and had a great career at UW. Errol will probably have a better one.

Another for instance, "Bender doesn't develop his players as well as other coaches, like Mark Few (Gonzaga) and Lute Olson (Arizona)."

Jason Terry and Donald Watts is the example that most would cite. Well, Terry played behind an All-American until his senior year, and Watts had to come to the table right out of the box.

The Pac-10 is tough top to bottom, and so are these Dawgs, I believe.

They have fought hard and not been rewarded a great deal. This team will be very good next year with a full compliment of big men and Brandon Roy to add to this mix. I believe that this team will get up off of the mat. They showed a lot of promise in defeating Oregon at home. Unfortunately they looked very young in their stumble against the Beavers two nights later, but I still think they'll get there.

Oregon and Gonzaga are both doing very well. That's a good sign to me, because we are building a strong program here at UW, with mostly northwest players that will only continue to get better.

Many are afraid to jump on the bandwagon, but I say give Bender and his staff some support now!

In my previous article, I speculated that Washington could have two of the top five point guards to play at the school in the last 30 plus years. We haven't seen a lot of Charles Frederick, and at that time Curtis Allen was playing with more confidence, but both of these guys could be of that caliber.

Washington certainly have potentially three of the top ten wing players I can remember (if you include Roy). Potential is a scary thing to evaluate a team with, but we have got to, as Dawg fans, give this group a chance.

Here is my list of top ten players, by position, since I started following Husky Basketball in 1969:

Point guard - This is the most important position in college basketball today, and having depth like Washington's at that spot will pay dividends. If you look at some of the better Husky teams of the last 30 years, you find many with no legit point guards, some with one, and very few with two. Let alone the three that we could have right now. Add to that the excellent juniors coming up that they might have a chance with, Ryan Appleby of Stanwood and Aaron Brooks of Franklin, and it could be a real cornerstone of a dominating run. Here are the top 10 of the last 32 years:
1. Eldridge Recasner - probably out of position, but oh-so-good. He didn't have a great supporting cast (understatement).
2. Louie Nelson - actually more of a two but great enough to play point.
3. Chester Dorsey - "Chet the Jet" was on great teams, came highly recruited and was high on himself, and had a great run at HEC-ED. Energetic and electrifying to watch.
4. Lorenzo Romar - played both guard positions well. His talent wasn't used that well at UW.
5. Rafael Stone - lost time because of injury. He distributed the ball as well as anyone.
6. Alvin Vaughn - also did his job well and exhibited great control. Like Stone, but not quite as good. Stayed relatively healthy though.
7. Jason Hamilton - one of the key guys that brought this program out of the early 90's doldrums.
8. Ron Williams - a legit ball player, but not quite in the upper end of this group.
9. Bob Fronk - good all around hoopster, but not great as a point guard.
10. Jan Wooten - hard fighter that was functional, but not a star.

Shooting Guard - UW has not had a lot of the real top twos in the Pac-10 when you think of all the greats that they've had to defend against. What they have now, with Errol, Massingale, Barnard, and next year Roy, is definitely as good as it's ever been on paper.
1. Clarence Ramsey - amazing shooter and athlete, no idea why he never played in the NBA
2. Charles Dudley - extremely quick, "deadly", and versatile. Saw him blow by many unsuspecting teams his first year.
3. Donald Watts - played with great heart at times. Willed team to many close wins.
4. Bryant Boston - good solid all around two, shined through injuries and hard times at UW.
5. Shag Williams - great scorer, not a great shooter. Always gave 100%.
6. Greg Hill - good solid two, but as you can see, this list doesn't make UCLA, Arizona, or even Cal too jealous.
7. Brent Merritt - excellent all around player. Good defender. Track speed guy. Ran the floor and finished like a pro.
8. Mike Neill - great Shooter. Lacked a bit in other areas. Was a couple years older than the other guys in his class.
9. Don Vaughn - good to adequate combo guard.
10. Dave Willenborg - also a good shooter, not a lot of finesse.

Swing Man - Sometimes a forward sometimes a guard. This list is pretty strong. Doug Wrenn and possibly Knight and Roy, are potentially high on this list.
1. Detlef Shrempf - There'll never be another one like Det. He played all five positions for Harshman at times.
2. George Irvine - His ABA career speaks for itself.
3. Ray Price - Incredible shooter, 90% at the free-throw line.
4. Jaime Booker - All about hustle, defense, and teamwork. Should be in hall of fame for those efforts.
5. Stan Walker - Four-year starter. Consistent and good overall game.
6. Doug Meekins - Highly recruited from Crenshaw High in LA. Great individual player who fell short of expectations. Team had chemistry problems.
7. Dan Caldwell - Nice jumper for a big guy. He was a tweener.
8. Deon Luton - Great athlete who benefited from teams (spelled TODD) he was on. Very streaky shooter.
9. Will Perkins - Like Caldwell, a talented tweener who gave his all.
10. Dion Brown - Slam dunk king who had some great moments.

Power Forward - A rare commodity in college ball. Many NBA power forwards are centers in college. Some good ones at Washington were probably more suited to play small forward. Mike Jensen looks to me to be the best power forward candidate since Mark Pope, who isn't listed here, because I'm only listing players that ended their careers at UW. With Jeffrey Day and Doug Wrenn, who is able to do 3 or 4 well, this is also a position that may be as good as it's ever been, on paper.
1. Mark Sanford - Would have looked really good in a rotation with Luton, Green, and Femerling at the 3-4 instead of an ill-advised early entry into the NBA.
2. Paul Fortier - More of a power-forward but with some good perimeter skills. Harshman used him, Det, and Welp really well in '84 and '85.
3. Lars Hansen - Great at both the four and at center. He and James Edwards were a tough match-up for some teams.
4. Larry Pounds - JC transfer that was also in the mix with Lars and James. Good all around power forward.
5. Andra Griffin - Like Doug Meekins, highly recruited but never quite became a star. Damn good though.
6. Reggie Ball - Too bad dunks were illegal when he played. Not a great shooter, but good all around skills.
7. Kim Stewart - Played both three and four positions well. Great scorer.
8. Pat Woolcock - Good defender and rebounder. Worked well with Hawes and Irvine.
9. Phil Zevenbergen - JC guy, who had flashes of power. Probably more of a center.
10. Thalo Green - Nice moves around the basket. Had some great games. Less athletic than most but always worked at improving his deficiencies.

Center - There's been some great ones at UW. This list is better than a lot of teams in the Pac-10. Unfortunately you need more that a big man to win at this game, but it's a good place to start. Hopefully Bender and staff can get a star like Julius Lamptey. If not Marlon Shelton, Anthony Washington, Day and Jensen can hopefully fill up the middle next year. I know they'll do it better than this year. I'm still hoping for Dixon to have some great games. He could move up in this list if he does.
1. Todd MacColloch - Dominant in the college game. Has worked hard to belong in the NBA. Softest hands of any big man at Washington. 2. James Edwards - Also worked hard to improve every year he was here. "Baby Jabbar" had a great career and a dynamite baseline jumper.
3. Steve Hawes - More of an NBA power forward. Great skills and smarts for a big man.
4. Chris Welp - Dominating center. Good shooter, rebounder and passer.
5. Richard Manning - Syracuse transfer. Good shooter. He was really an oversized power forward.
6. Reggie Rogers - One of the greatest athletes to play basketball or football at UW, let alone both. Lost a bit after he started focusing on the pigskin, but always brought a physical dominance to the paint.
7. Petur Gudmundsson - Had the physical skills to be a great one. Kind of like Benoit Benjamin, but luckily not that bad.
8. Jay Bond - Good solid, but unspectacular center. Worked well as back-up to Hawes in 69-70.
9. David Dixon - Getting better, but still not there. Could surprise some people yet.
10. James Woods - Good solid four-five player. Worked on teams that needed rebounding but had plenty of offense.

When I look at the long term of what actually has been going on here over the last 32 years I have been following UW Basketball, I come to the conclusion that Bob Bender is doing a better job than most think.

The Huskies still need a center in the next recruiting class, but they have three talented point guards, five solid two-guards, three awesome swing men, one of the best young power forwards in their history, plus some depth. They are not far away from being good.

Remember, it wasn't that long ago that Clay Damon was the starting point guard, nor was it long ago that walk-on Chris Walcott was the starting center.
Best Wishes,

Jim Basnight. Top Stories