Sweet Sixteen: #2 Caron Butler vs. #11 Ricky Moore

Caron Butler vs. Ricky Moore

#2 Caron Butler – (2000-2002)
by Tyler Wilkinson

In Rd 2, Butler defeated #7 Jeff Adrien, 137-109

In Rd 1, Butler defeated #15 Andre Drummond, 253-4

Caron Butler is a success story. He escaped a life of drugs and incarceration – in Wisconsin, of all the damn places – to become an iconic figure in UConn history. Butler’s career is the gold standard in what can happen with a second chance.

Inspired yet? Cool, but that’s only part one of the Caron Butler Story because, get this, he was really good. When he walked onto campus, he was already the best player on the team. In 2000-2001, he led the team in both scoring and rebounding. The team, however, disappointed and lost early in the NIT.
It was Butler’s sophomore year where he truly developed into a leader and a star. Provided with reinforcements, namely two freshmen named Okafor and Gordon, Butler navigated the Huskies through an impassioned run to both regular season and tournament Big East titles.

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One of the great what-ifs in Husky history is, if Butler had returned to Storrs for his junior year. Gordon and Okafor would win a national championship one year later, could Butler have accelerated the process? Regardless, Butler is remembered as one of the great leaders to ever grace the UConn court. His passion, flair and charisma made him an indelible part of the Huskies’ staggering run of dominance through the early 2000s.

I’m supposed to use some of this space to persuade you to vote for Butler over his competitor, Ricky Moore, so I will do so hesitantly. Moore had two supremely memorable games. Butler had two memorable years. Moore was the 4th best player on a Championship team. Butler was the best player on a team that was sandwiched by two title winners. Butler was locked up as a kid, but Moore is the one who was suspended for NCAA violations. Sorry, Ricky.

That one hurt…

Career Points: 1136

Career Rebounds: 477

Career Assists: 190

Career Steals: 134

Career Blocks: 22

#11 Ricky Moore – (1995-1999)
by Meghan Bard

In Rd 2, Moore defeated #3 Wes Bialosuknia, 162-80

In Rd 1, Moore defeated #6 Marcus Williams, 201-50

Look, you know you want to vote for Ricky Moore. Caron Butler is an incredible athlete, and he had two impressive seasons at UConn. But in the ether of UConn greatness, Butler’s got nothing on Ricky Moore.

Ricky Moore proved himself over four years, taking the thankless task of defensive specialist. Disrupting the other team’s offense doesn’t show up in the stat sheets, but Moore never seemed to mind that other players got the glory. He just wanted to win. A team player in the truest sense of the word, his intensity and maturity were the perfect counterpoints to Khalid El-Amin’s fire and magic. On defense he was quick, confident and smart, like a champion poker player, always able to read his opponents.

Nobody had a break-out game with Ricky Moore in their face. It just didn’t happen. But that isn’t to say that Moore’s only talent was on defense. As Coach Calhoun said in 1998, “He pushes on the break. He understands our offense… He directs us. He calms us down. He hits shots when he’s dared or when we really need them. He does all of these things well.”

In the 1999 NCAA Tournament, Ricky Moore put on a defensive clinic. Each game, Moore was matched up against the other team’s most important player, and every game he shut that player down. UConn doesn’t win a National Championship without Ricky Moore. Hell, they don’t even come close to the title game without him. In the semifinal against Ohio State, Moore held All-American Scoonie Penn to 3-for-13 shooting, and in the final, he disrupted point guard William Avery’s entire existence, holding him to 3-for-12 from the floor. On Duke’s second-to-last possession, Moore’s pressure caused Trajan Langdon to travel, and UConn would go on to win. (You can watch the whole game here. You know you want to!)

Career Points: 925

Career Rebounds: 402

Career Assists: 510

Career Steals: 170

Career Blocks: 47

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