It combines the thrill of fantasy football auctions with the power of being captain for a game of pickup hoops. A craze that first infected Twitter with its all-time NBA starting lineup version earlier this week, like some sort of a social media game show where nobody wins. Or maybe we're all the winners? I dunno.
That's right, Wisconsin jumped on the bandwagon Thursday by offering up a template to build your own All-Time Badgers Starting Lineup for $15 via the official men's basketball Twitter account:
Besides killing your productivity at work, the exercise probably generated plenty of discussion among you and your friends, debating who the best players in Wisconsin history are and what you value in a team. It's fun to see which positions Wisconsin has had the most talent at over the years. Hopefully it also provided a bit of a history lesson for younger fans who saw some unfamiliar names on the list.
There were some notable omissions from the player pool. Guard Clarence Sherrod, UW's career leader in scoring average (19.6 ppg), was bumped most likely by Kammron Taylor. Seven-footer Brad Sellers is also missing, presumably because he transferred to Ohio State for his final two seasons.
Before revealing my personal picks, take a look at two extremes.
Go-Go Gadget Offense
It's hard to imagine the starting five for an offensive-minded team without Devin Harris (or the uber-efficient Jordan Taylor), but for a $2 discount, Webster is a steal. He could push tempo just about as well as Harris, plus was a better 3-point shooter and racked up many more assists. Power forward is stocked with scorers, so the undervalued Leuer fits in nicely here. He and Butch up front is a welcome trade-off to get a great like Finley on the roster. Watching Webster pick between Jackson on the wing versus Finley and Leuer finishing at the rim on a fast break would be heaven on earth.
PG: Mike Kelley - $1
SG: Trent Jackson - $2
SF: Joe Franklin - $3
PF: Claude Gregory - $4
C: Rashard Griffith - $5
Kelley is a no-brainer, who I suspect would help this crew become better than the sum of its parts. He was crafty before Aaron Craft was out of diapers. Jackson, though known as a dead-eye shooter, left UW as the program's single season and career leader in steals. Don't make any mistakes against that back court.
In the front court, we have the Mount Rushmore of Badger rebounders. Regardless of how helpful statistics are when comparing players from different eras, nobody in Wisconsin history pulled down boards at the rate Franklin did. The only man to post more career rebounds than Franklin (858) is Gregory (904). Griffith is simply a mountain inside, cleaning the glass and blocking tons of shots.
What if the two teams went head-to-head?
First of all, you would have a real nice contrast of styles at point guard. It's safe to say Kelley would be a non-factor on offense, per usual, as Webster could generate plenty of steals himself. Kelley would be a bonafide annoyance, but not as effective in a full-court situation either. So tempo would be the key. (Sound familiar?)
Jackson offsets himself at the two-guard spot obviously. If Finley had an off night, Franklin would post some mammoth numbers, but Finley is just too good there. In fact, Finley is the best guy on the court in this game.
The defensive team would counter with some underrated scorers in Franklin and Gregory, both double-double machines. Speaking of which, who could stop Griffith inside? No one. Both Leuer and Butch are too slight. However, how would Griffith fare when pulled out to the perimeter by Butch and Leuer? He was not known for having world-class conditioning. With the younger forwards sinking threes and Webster pushing the pace, I think most folks would put their money Griffith wearing down and the offensive team outlasting Gregory and company.
My starting five
My selected lineup definitely has an offensive bent to it. Getting the two best players in Wisconsin history on the same team was a must. Everything trickled down from there. Harris has the quickness to penetrate at will, leaving plenty of opportunities for Brust to start gunning. This team has four players that can shoot the three, thanks to my second bargain selection of Berggren. Berggren also sets the tone inside defensively. By his side is Jones, a complimentary wide-body and a more offensive-minded player. He's the original Nigel Hayes.
Rebounding is the biggest concern, but these guys don't plan on missing much. They can score in every way -- free throws, in the post, outside shooting, penetration. I have a shot eraser in the middle and some pesky perimeter defenders in Harris and Finley. Need one shot to win? Take your pick: Devin or Finley? Or you could post up Jones or let Brust heave one from half court.
I would have loved to fit in Sam Okey's versatility or Kirk Penney's size and rebounding at SG, but I think this group blows everyone out of the water. That's just my opinion though, so share your all-time team in the comments.