Duke basketball: ACC snubs legendary Blue Devils

Duke basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Seriously, how are Duke basketball fans supposed to wrap their heads around the notion that Jason Williams and Bobby Hurley aren’t among the more than five dozen greatest ACC players from the past five decades?

A double-take turned into a triple-take, which led to a call to my eye doctor. But it turns out my vision is fine. To my absolute befuddlement, what I saw was real: the official ACC Men’s Basketball Twitter account constructed a 64-player bracket to find the “Best ACC Men’s Basketball Player of the Last 50 Years” without including Duke basketball greats Jason Williams and Bobby Hurley.

Huh? This has to be a joke, right?

At first, I figured there must be some reasonable explanation.

Yet before even looking for one, I quickly came to the realization that there cannot be any excuse to leave off Williams, a 2001 national champ who in only three seasons as the Duke basketball starting point guard surpassed 2,000 career points (2,079), won three ACC Tournament titles, and compiled a 50-7 overall conference record.

Honestly, the same goes for Hurley, the starting floor general of back-to-back Big Dance victors (1991 and 1992) who remains the NCAA’s all-time assists leader (1,076) some 27 years after the curtain shut on his college performances.

OK, so the ACC did list among its guidelines for making the selections — taking into account only “collegiate accomplishments” — a six-player limit for each of its current 15 member institutions (and a three-player minimum for each as well).

Surely, though, for any ACC enthusiasts older than 35 with a pair of working eyeballs, that still doesn’t justify the omissions of Williams and Hurley. Look, the way I see it is that if you can’t come up with a way to at least include Williams, there’s not much sense in unveiling the bracket in the first place.

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The failure to get it right, so it seems, stems from the predetermined limits above and, most confusing, the inclusion of 22 non-ACC players. Yes, you read that correctly, for 34 percent of the entire field suited up for Pitt, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Louisville, Miami, Boston College, or Florida State before those programs ever entered the conference — in a couple of cases, more than 40 years in advance of their schools’ league change.

Besides, I would think many of those 22 selections would view their names on such an “ACC list” as a slap in the face, seeing that most were actually Big East household names.

Nevertheless, folks who don’t care about the bracket’s incredible lack of credibility can vote, one matchup at a time via Twitter, until an overall winner emerges on April 6 at 9 p.m. (coinciding with the time the NCAA Championship Game would have taken place if not for the decision last week to shut down postseason play over coronavirus concerns). Here’s the link for the entire bracket.

The Duke basketball legends who did land in the competition — the ACC was at least wise enough to name six of them — are Christian Laettner (a No. 1 seed), Grant Hill (a No. 2 seed), J.J. Redick (a No. 2 seed), Shane Battier (a No. 3 seed), Zion Williamson (a No. 5 seed), and Johnny Dawkins (a No. 7 seed). The other three No. 1 seeds are Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan, N.C. State’s David Thompson, and Virginia’s Ralph Sampson.

While one or two of the above seeds are a bit suspect, I won’t get into that here. And don’t even get me started on the absence of Mike Gminski, Danny Ferry…oh, nevermind. I’ve made my point, which essentially is that it is silly to place a six-player limit on schools while ignoring the fact that Duke and North Carolina — as nauseating as it is to admit, the Tar Heels also deserve more candidates — have owned the ACC across recent decades.

Now, I’m going to occupy my time replaying Williams’ “Miracle Minute,” Hurley’s clutch 3-pointer against UNLV, and the countless other magical moments these Duke basketball stars displayed for the entire world to see (well, excluding those in charge of the ACC Men’s Basketball Twitter account, apparently).

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As a matter of fact, I’m also going to check out some past footage of Lonnie Walker IV to better understand how his averages of 11.5 points, 2.6 boards, and 1.9 assists while shooting 34.6 percent from the 3-point line — in only one season at Miami — are evidently better than all that either Williams or Hurley accomplished as Blue Devils. Wow.

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