As I discussed earlier, this year’s Wildcats team is absolutely filled to the brim with talent. Two lottery picks and at least one more player who will go in the first round (Wall, Cousins and Eric Bledsoe, respectively). Not to mention the very effective Patrick Patterson.
A friend of mine who knows college hoops even wrote “Kentucky is the most talented college basketball team I have ever seen.” And he may be right. But it got me thinking: who, in my lifetime, might have been even more talented?
I thought about the great UCLA teams with the O’Bannon brothers, the Vince Carter-Antwan Jamison-Ed Cota-Shammon Williams UNC squads of the 1990s. But for me, there is really only one team that enters the discussion, and that’s the 2000-2001 Duke Blue Devils.
Over the past 20 years, Duke has gotten a bad rap for being unathletic (read: “rich/white”?) and generally very fun to dislike. But do you remember that renaissance between Wojo and Redick? That golden time when Duke had the horses to implement that suffocating half court man-to-man defense? When the highest flying team in the ACC resided in Durham?
Let’s look at this line-up and where the players were drafted: the unguardable point guard formerly known as Jason Williams (2nd 2002), Mike Dunleavy Jr. (3rd 2002), Carlos Boozer (2nd Round 2002), Shane Battier (6th 2001), Chris Duhon (second round 2004), Dahntay Jones (2oth 2003). Woah.
That is an absolute squad. Jason Williams and Carlos Boozer may be a step below the tandem of Wall and Cousins (although as a sophomore Williams could do it all and would have been an NBA All-Star if not for his motorcycle accident), but I’ll take that supporting cast over that of Kentucky.
You certainly can’t go wrong with either team. Put them head to head and I think I’d take Duke’s shooting and experience. The ultimate test will be whether Kentucky, like Duke in 2001, can earn a national championship.