Final Four: #1 Kemba Walker vs. #1 Donyell Marshall

Kemba Walker vs. Donyell Marshall

#1 Kemba Walker – (2008-2011)
by Peter Bard

Rd 4, defeated #3 Khalid El-Amin, 136-11

Rd 3, defeated #5 Hasheem Thabeet, 137-2

Rd 2, defeated #8 Kevin Ollie, 142-14

Rd 1, defeated #16 Johnnie Selvie, 197-8

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I’m gonna let you in on a little secret; Kemba is supposed to win this whole thing. I’m sorry to give it away early, but I want to make sure we’re clear on this. Walker was robbed of NPOY and even Big East POY, but let’s not be stupid.

Kemba Walker won a National Championship more or less all by himself. No other UConn player can make that claim, or anything close to is. Emeka Okafor had Ben Gordon. Rip Hamilton had Khalid El-Amin. You know how good those guys are; you voted them all into the Elite Eight. Did you see Alex Oriakhi or Jeremy Lamb getting anywhere near there? I sure didn’t.

It’s not just the title, either. Kemba’s season was statistically amazing, setting a new UConn single-season points record by quite a large margin. In addition, his game was beautiful. Take a minute right now to go on YouTube and search for Kemba Walker highlights 2011, and you’ll see no fewer than like 400 montages of Kemba’s UConn heroics with a beautiful soundtrack of gangsta rap rife with lyrics I can’t say. It’s amazing. It still bring tears to my eyes.

Kemba has, you may have noticed, asserted himself quite well in the NBA already. I can’t see the future, but I suspect that a great many All-Star games are ahead for Cardiac Kemba.

But this is about college success, and Kemba had that in spades, playing in two Final Fours and dominating enough as a junior to carry his team to a championship. Make the right choice, folks. Vote for Kemba.

Career Points: 1783

Career Rebounds: 493

Career Assists: 460

Career Steals: 185

Career Blocks: 28

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

Rd 4, defeated #2 Richard Hamilton, 194-170

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

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

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

Kemba Walker had an historic junior season at UConn. He captained the team to an unexpected National Championship and had – without a doubt – the greatest single season in Husky history.

But this a cumulative game. Donyell Marshall’s career body of work at UConn outweighs Kemba’s final, superhuman season. Donyell scored more points than Kemba during their respective freshman years. He also outrebounded him (obviously, considering his size advantage) and set a new freshman record for blocks by a freshman with 78.

Marshall also set the record for blocks by a sophomore (note: both have since been broken by Emeka Okafor). Kemba saw a spike in his scoring during his sophomore year, but Marshall became the third player in UConn history to score over 400 points and grab over 200 rebounds as a sophomore (Cal Chapman and Corny Thompson preceded him. Several have done it after him).

Donyell Marshall’s junior season set the standard for great UConn seasons. He scored an astonishing 855 points in 1993-1994. The previous single-season record at the time: 702 during Tony Hanson’s senior season. Walker’s magical season would best Marshall’s mark, but it’s worth noting that Kemba had 7 additional games to do it.

Statistics aside, the real argument for Donyell over Kemba is similar to the argument for Donyell over Richard Hamilton. Donyell came first, and made it possible to become a star at the University of Connecticut. He came to Storrs when no one of his caliber had done so before him. Then he lived up to expectations and carried a love and respect for the University with him through a 15-year NBA career.

Career Points: 1648

Career Rebounds: 695

Career Assists: 131

Career Steals: 113

Career Blocks: 245

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


    • its hard not to vote for the ‘floor general’ over the ultimate team player…. but, in my opinion thats why he should win. he didnt have the option to go ‘1 on 1’ every time the ball was brought up the court & he had a much better defensive game. not to mention his muscle mass wasnt equivalent (pound for pound vs. their height) as his peers. donyell mixed it up w/ power forwards & centers although “undersized” (as some ppl did say). he’s a real lionheart!

  1. you say Donyell is promoting himself. I follow him on twitter. And he has only retweeted about this contest for the first 3 rounds. I have not seen him post on twitter since. You have your opinion about who’s better and everyone else has theirs. It’s a fun voting contest. Let it continue to be fun.

    • Perhaps I was being unfair. I don’t mean to disparage Donyell at all. I watched him, often times in person, when I was younger and loved every second of it. I know this is all in good fun, but I really feel strongly about Kemba. I’m not a spring chicken, either.

  2. I know people are probably shocked about the outcome of Donyell over Rip or how close this voting is, Even though Kemba had a great season, some of us older fans still love what Donyell did for UConn. This is a fun tournaement regardless of who wins. At the end of the day, they both had wonderful careers for the Huskies.

    • Think this is exactly right, Jim. And I think the closeness of these contests will help the younger fans appreciate just how great Marshall was during his time on campus. For a lot of people (myself included), he was the first legitimate “star” we got to witness.

      Doesn’t necessarily make him better or more worthy than Kemba (or Rip), but it definitely explains fans’ affinity for him.

      • I remember Donyell, same as everyone else does. I respect the guy and am thankful that he was the first blue chipper to give Storrs a chance. He had one season in particular (Junior year) that was statistically insane. But… Kemba.

        • Just saying, as we saw with El-Amin vs. Chris Smith, fans vote for the star they identified with most at the time — not sure there was any more statistical merit to that result than there is Marshall over Walker.

      • I also think that the bias is working in the other direction. People don’t yet have a full grasp on what Kemba accomplished in 2011.

  3. But he didn’t just have a great season. He almost single-handedly hung banner number 3. The write-up on this page by Mr. Bard sums it up perfectly. Kemba was everything a Husky should be.

  4. I confess that I did a little search to compare the rest of their stats and see what places who did “all time best by the numbers” gave as results. Donyell is in everyone. It isn’t (for me) that the “older” fans saw him as the first big name at Yvonne (cliff Robinson? Scott, Tate, Chris Smith) He just was consistently good and the “old” fans remember when we fought other schools to say just wait and see.

  5. The reason people are annoyed isn’t that older fans are skewing the vote to Donyell. The problem is that a large group of Donyell fans has skewed the vote in his favor. Looking at the voting totals by match-up, it’s obvious that a lot more votes are coming in for Donyell match-ups than anyone else.

    Also, can we stop pretending that Donyell made UConn relevant? Chris Smith was an incredibly productive and visible player who, unlike Donyell, made his way to the Elite Eight once.

    • No argument that Chris Smith is one of the greatest. Nobody said how to vote here. To me it’s the overall impact on the program and the total #’s.

  6. Not sure if you are talking NCAA tourney play or simply careers. I mostly remember Donyell for missing 2 free throws vs. Florida that would have sent us to our first final four – and he had just set some free throw streak record that season. Ugh!!

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