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Tech's All-Time ACC Tournament Team

Feb. 19, 2002

By Wes Durham – I wish I could tell you that the idea to put this column together was original and came to me after hours of exhaustive research into almost 90 years of Georgia Tech basketball. But, that would not be true. This idea was borrowed from something I was reading recently on the Jackets trip to College Park to face Maryland.

This is the final season for Cole Field House on the Maryland campus as the home of Terp basketball. Next year, Gary Williams and his team will move into the sparkling new Comcast Center, which will feature all the bells and whistles you would expect from a facility that has to compete in a major professional market.

I’m going to miss the old place. They (Maryland) moved our radio location courtside a couple years ago and it’s been great to feel a part of the tradition of the place where so many great memories have taken place.

To that effect, there are several things being written about the long time home of Maryland basketball this season, but the best is a 130 page book by John McNamara and David Elfin called “Cole Classics: Maryland Basketball’s Leading Men and Moments”. They do a nice job of piecing together all the great players, coaches, games and moments of the place.

However, they also step out on a limb in their publication by selecting a 10 man “All Time Cole Field House Team”. Such ventures are dangerous because they always make somebody mad, but they did a nice job.

Reading that led me to wonder who Tech’s all-time team might be for the ACC Tournament? The Jackets have won the event three times and played for the title in 1986 and 1996. So away I went asking those that had been on campus awhile and others who had a degree of perspective on the Jackets two decades of play in the conference’s marquee event.

There were no rules here in terms of who would qualify for the squad except that my personal goal was to make it a regulation team for 2001-02. That means I get 13 scholarship players. The team didn’t have to win or play for the title for a player to be on the team, just participate in the event.

As a kid working for the Greensboro Coliseum staff, I remember watching Tech’s first game in the tournament. Brook Steppe almost single handedly led the Jackets to an upset of Maryland. Steppe poured in 21 points as Dwane Morrison’s team fell 51-49, in overtime. That was a nice beginning, but the effort didn’t make our final cut.

Tech’s first crown was in 1985 at The Omni, when Mark Price captured the Tournament MVP award in the Jackets upset of Carolina. Many still contest that Bruce Dalrymple might have deserved the honor as well. While Price poured in 16 points in the final, including some big free throws late, Dalrymple had a 16-point, 9-rebound game in the semi-finals against Duke, before tallying 12 points in the clincher on Sunday. Both Price and Dalrymple would be on my squad.

Duane Ferrell notched double-figures in all but one game of his ACC Tournament career (6 games). Of course his steal and dunk late in the ’86 semi-finals against Maryland is a great memory for Tech fans. His tourney average of 13.1 points per game gets Ferrell on my team.

James Forrest went wild in 1993 at Charlotte. The Atlanta native averaged 26.6 points and shot 68 percent from the floor in helping Tech to their third and last title. Forrest is an easy pick for this squad.

The same theory applies to Brian Oliver, who led the Jackets to the 1990 title. Oliver was the emotional leader of “Lethal Weapon 3” and the key to wins over NC State, Duke and Virginia. Oliver averaged 23.3 points and shot a smooth 53 percent from the floor in the event.

Five down and 8 players left…easy right? Let’s see…we need a big guy inside. Got it.

Malcolm Mackey played on two teams that won the tournament and in nine career games. The big man from Chattanooga had two double-double efforts in those games on the way to averaging 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game at the ACC Tournament.

I need some more guards, so let’s get Drew Barry in the mix. At one point, he held the tournament record for assists, while also helping the ’93 team to the crown and playing in the finals again in ’96. He also averaged 10.5 points per game in 8 tournament outings.

Two of his teammates from 1996 have to be on the squad as well.

In his only appearance at the tournament, Brooklyn’s Stephon Marbury averaged 22.0 points, shot 51 percent from the floor, while also nailing 10 of 20 three point attempts. Had Tech beaten Tim Duncan and Wake Forest that day in Greensboro, he almost would have certainly been the MVP.

Matt Harpring’s tournament career is remembered for his exit as much as anything else. In the final stages of Tech’s opening round loss to Maryland in 1998 at Greensboro, Bobby Cremins took Harpring out of the game. When he did, the capacity crowd came to its feet and applauded the career of the three-time, all-ACC first-team choice. Harpring was an all-tournament choice in 1996, but in six career tournament games averaged 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 50 percent from behind the three point line.

Only four players left…Mackey needs some help inside…but we have to make a choice.

Matt Geiger played in just three tournament games (’91-’92), but averaged 9.6 points and 7.0 rebounds and hit 14 of 18 attempts from the floor. Jason Collier appeared in just two games at the tournament (’99-’00), but averaged 18 points and eight rebounds.

Of recent note, Alvin Jones played in five games over four tournaments and averaged 12.2 points, grabbed 9.6 rebounds, hit 48 percent from the floor and blocked 2.4 shots per game. That presence is good enough to make our squad.

Now for the final three spots…

Dennis Scott averaged 20.6 points in five career tournament games, including almost 25 points per game in 1990. He and Brian Oliver each had 31 in the semi-final win over Duke. Scott hit 41 percent of his floor attempts in tournament play.

Kenny Anderson played in four tournament games averaging 14.5 points per game, while making the all-tournament team in 1990, with Oliver and Scott.

Still need some inside depth…how about “The Terminator”?

Crestview, Florida’s Tom Hammonds played in six tournament games over four seasons, averaging 13.1 points per game, grabbing over seven rebounds a contest and shooting 60 percent from the floor. Plus, his attitude and work ethic would be a great asset to this team.

That is 13 players, with most positions covered and back-up depth available. I think most of us could coach this team, but we would have to make sure everybody got their minutes. To build my lineups I went to current coach Paul Hewitt for some advice.

“Depending on the opponent, you could go three guards, but in a standard set, you might put Price and Anderson at the guards, Harpring and Forrest at the forwards, with Mackey in the middle to start,” Hewitt said.

What kind of style could he see this team playing?

“This squad could do whatever you wanted to do. You’re bringing Dennis Scott off the bench!”

That’s kind of the way I was thinking too.

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