Elite Eight: #1 Donyell Marshall vs. #2 Richard Hamilton

Donyell Marshall vs. Richard Hamilton

#1 Donyell Marshall – (1991-1994)
by Tyler Wilkinson

Rd 3, defeated #5 Scott Burrell, 118-20

Rd 2, defeated #9 Rashad Anderson, 198-61

Rd 1, defeated #16 Tim Coles, 228-1

Donyell Marshall could do it all. He blocked shots — and held the all-time record at the time of his graduation. He rebounded — aided by athleticism and a condorian wingspan. And he scored. Man, did he score.

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To this day, UConn has not seen another player like Marshall. He was equally at home on the low block as he was behind the three-point line. He scored 10 or more points in 36 consecutive games. He scored 30 or more points seven times in 1993-1994. He had 14 double-doubles in Big East play alone — competition he relished.

No one in Storrs had ever witnessed talent like Marshall’s. He arrived at UConn the best recruit they had ever landed. It was his presence on campus that brought national TV cameras. Where the late 80s, early 90s stars like Cliff Robinson and Chris Smith put UConn on the map, Marshall put UConn in the spotlight.

The names that followed Marshall at UConn should look familiar. They round out the rest of this Elite Eight. It is not an unreasonable assertation that Rip Hamilton never comes to UConn if Marshall didn’t make it possible to become a star there. In the 30 years before Marshall arrived, UConn had produced 10 NBA draft picks. They would produce another 10 in the 11 years following Marshall’s own departure for the league.

Richard Hamilton had an incredible career at UConn. One that might have happened on another university’s court if not for Donyell Marshall.

Career Points: 1648

Career Rebounds: 695

Career Assists: 131

Career Steals: 113

Career Blocks: 245

#2 Richard Hamilton – (1996-1999)
by Peter Bard

Rd 3, defeated #3 Art Quimby, 123-11

Rd 2, defeated #10 Jeremy Lamb, 144-12

Rd 1, defeated #15 Kirk King, 182-2

Richard Hamilton vs. Donyell Marshall. Here it is, folks. This is the one you’ve all been salivating over since the start of this whole exercise. Now you have your chance to make things right, and put Richard Hamilton, who was a rightful #1 seed, through to the Final Four.

One thing I don’t like about this process is the need to denigrate players who were incredibly productive for UConn. Donyell Marshall had about as dominant an individual season as we’ve ever seen from a UConn player, only missing out on National Player of the Year in 1993-94 because Glenn Robinson put up video game numbers. I would never try to imply that Hamilton’s best season was as good as Donyell’s.

But there’s a little more to this than individual performance, isn’t there? Donyell has been, rightly or wrongly, criticized for UConn’s relative lack of success in the postseason during his tenure at UConn. That 1993-94 team was one of the most talented in the history of the program, featuring both Dons Marshall, Ray Allen, Doron Sheffer, and Kevin Ollie, but suffered a disappointing loss in the Sweet Sixteen to Florida, a game in which Donyell didn’t play anywhere near the dominant level he’d shown all season. This isn’t to say that Marshall’s UConn career was a disappointment, and I do acknowledge that team success requires a lot of good fortune, but here we are at the finish line, folks; only winners from here on out.

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s UConn career was marked with postseason success. After a pleasantly-surprising third-place finish in the NIT in Hamilton’s freshman year, a year that saw a roster ravaged by players defecting early to the NBA, graduating, or being suspended, the Huskies were right back in the national picture the next season, losing a heartbreaker to a dominant UNC team. And as everyone knows, Hamilton led the team to the promised land the following year, so it’s clear that Hamilton knew how to win as well as anyone who’s ever put on a UConn uniform.

Let that not overshadow Hamilton’s individual successes, however. Despite not making the preseason All-Big East team as a sophomore, Hamilton went on to win the first of two consecutive Big East Player of the Year awards. Hamilton was also a two-time All American, making the consensus First Team as a junior.
Hamilton’s name is clear in the UConn record books, with his 2,036 points second all-time behind Chris Smith, and his career scoring average behind only old-timers Wild Wes Bialosuknia and Walt Dropo. Hamilton’s more subtle skills are on display here as well, as he was one of the most prolific and most accurate free throw shooters in the program’s history.

So, there you have it. You know it’s right, in your heart. As great as Donyell was, can we really put him above the man most responsible for the biggest win in the history of the program? I submit that we cannot. Vote your conscience. Vote for Rip.

Career Points: 2036

Career Rebounds: 464

Career Assists: 266

Career Steals: 134

Career Blocks: 28

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  1. I am SHOCKED that people are actually voting for Donyell over Rip. I thought UCONN fans were more knowledgeable than this. I mean I love Donyell, hell I sat in Gampel and watched him live when I was there, but this should be no contest. Yes, Donyell was the first blue chip player at UCONN, but when it comes down to the final few players to be the best you have to think who would you want to have the ball with the Huskies down one and taking the last shot. No way I want Donyell taking the shot. I would take Rip over anyone left in the field. This is embarrassing.

  2. This is a travesty. Rip is THE greatest UConn player of all-time… An outrage. Don’t get me wrong – Donyell is amazing and in the top 5 for sure, but his accomplishments cannot match Rip’s. No one’s can. Rip had a better UConn career than all four #1 seeds. I am heartbroken.

    • I think Donyell’s out there campaigning. Let this be a lesson Rip — you can’t win if you don’t play.

  3. Look at the vote counts. The last two have both gotten 147 votes, but this one is almost at 300 already. Donyell is going to win the whole shebang.

  4. Jerry, I agree with you 110%. Yes, I am one of those maniacs that filled out my own bracket and I had Rip over Ray in the finals. This has turned into a joke, especially if Donyell wins it all (and I’m a Donyell fans). You have to put subjectivity aside at this point.

  5. This voting discredits the credibility of this “tourney”. This reeks of a rigged vote. I live husky nation, and most of my friends went to UConn in the Donyell/Ray/Rip Era. We always have debates as to who is the best UConn play ever. There is no way it is ever a 60/40 split with Donyell over RIP. I loved Donyell, he was the first UConn player that was a national force, and could do everything, and dominate a game like no other play we had ever seen. Heck, he was one of the main reasons I went to UConn. However, in a time where UConn fans were craving a final four, he came up short when it mattered in the tournament. RIP, while he was not the physical dominant presence that Donyell was and not as likable and flashy as Ray or Kemba, he was a stone cold clutch, a great competitor and a winner. He was an assassin and always hit big shots to put the dagger in opponents. His performance in the 99 title game is unmatched, the biggest moment and he stepped up as he always did. He delivered Husky nation its first final four, and first national title, beating a hugely favored Duke team on top of that. Nothing was sweeter than that first title and win over Duke in 99, RIP was the soul of that team that brought us to the promise land. Unfortunately Donyell never gave us that type of thrill. RIP always took the stairs!!! I don’t know if I can even say RIP was my favorite UConn player, but if I wanted someone taking the final shot….it would have to be RIP.

  6. My bracket has Kemba over Ray in the finals, but if I had to guess, Donyell’s fans are going to push him through to the big win. He’s campaigning, which any other player was free to do, if they only paid attention to us.

    Maybe we’ll post write-ups of our personal brackets after the end of the tourney.

  7. Yuck, I thought there were other players on the court when that game was lost, not just Donyell. Win together, lose together. Everyone in the state reacted like this and then bashed him for leaving UConn early. I didn’t know he was campaigning for any votes in a blog tournament but he’s got mine. Part of what has always appealed to me at UConn has been the spirit & the good sportsmanship which he’s always shown.

  8. OMG – just shiat can this whole thing after this. i like this site but I may never read it again. really? i mean fuking really!!!! RICHARD HAMILTON IS THE GREATEST HUSKY EVER!! WE WON ARE FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP WITH RIP! ENUFF SAID. BEFORE THAT DESPITE GREAT PLAYERS WE COULD NEVER BREAK THRU. RAY ALLEN CHOCKED, DONYELL TOO..makes me sick.

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