Syracuse Basketball: Ranking the 5 Greatest Shot-Blockers in Orange History
One of the key components to Syracuse's 2-3 zone is the center. The middle man is the captain of the defense, calling out rotations and making sure the other players are in position and the defense works as a unit.
Perhaps the main job of an Orange center is to protect the rim. Syracuse teams, especially lately, have relied on their defense to shut opponents' offense down. It's easier to do that when you have someone erasing shots inside.
Let's take a look back at some of Syracuse's best shot-blockers. We'll count down the top five based on statistical output across a career as well as season-by-season accomplishments.
Honorable Mention: Fab Melo
The way Fab Melo's career at Syracuse ended, what with him missing a title run due to academic issues before bolting for the NBA, left a sour taste in Orange fans' mouths.
But his defensive dominance in that breakout sophomore year can't be denied. Melo was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, swatting 3.7 shots a game during league play. He averaged 2.9 blocks a game over the entire season, and his total of 88 blocks in the 2011-12 season is the 10th-most in school history.
Oh, and he also set the school record with 10 blocks in a game against Seton Hall.
Melo's time at Syracuse may have been short, but he definitely deserves a shoutout for his short-term success. If he had spent more time on campus, like the other players on this list did, Melo could have had his name listed in more areas of the Orange record book.
5. Derrick Coleman
Starting off the top five is Derrick Coleman, who is one of the best players to ever wear Syracuse on his jersey.
Coleman ranks third all time in blocks for Syracuse with 319. However, he got 41 percent of those in the 1988-89 season, and his next best season total was 68, which isn't even in Syracuse's top 20 all time. Coleman's career high for a single game is eight, which is tied with several other players for third-most all time.
Since Coleman was one of Syracuse's best all-around players, sometimes he focused on other aspects of his game instead of blocking. But that one big season is the third-best total for a season, and it was a school record at the time.
4. Darryl Watkins
Following Coleman is Darryl Watkins, who played for Syracuse from 2003-2007.
Watkins is fifth all time in blocks for Syracuse. His career average of 2.5, though, is good for third-best ever. Watkins also only played in 106 games for Syracuse, whereas Coleman and the players ahead of him played in at least 118.
Watkins gets slotted ahead of Coleman because he rejected shots on a more consistent basis. While Coleman had the third-most blocks in a season, Watkins has the fourth-best and seventh-best season totals. Watkins also holds the team record for most blocks by a senior with 112.
Since Watkins wasn't ever an offensive threat (career six ppg), he had to earn his minutes by playing defense. His commitment on that end is what helped get him on this list.
3. Rony Seikaly
Rony Seikaly checks in at third, which is right where he finds himself on Syracuse's all-time list (in a tie with Coleman).
Seikaly led the team in blocks in his four years on campus, and his single-season career high of 97 is eighth-best ever. Seikaly also posted the 10th- and 14th-best (before Melo) seasons of all time.
Seikaly was a consistent performer on defense, blocking the fifth-most shots by a freshman, second-most by a sophomore and third-most as a senior. His best single-game total of eight puts him tied for third.
One of Seikaly's best attributes was his ability to block the shot but keep it in play. Most players will just try to put the ball in the fifth row, which gives the possession back to the opponent. By keeping it in play, either Seikaly himself or a teammate was able to grab the ball and head the other direction.
2. Roosevelt Bouie
Roosevelt Bouie and his excellent afro take the silver medal on our list.
Bouie's name is all over the Syracuse record books for blocks. Appropriately, he is second on Syracuse's all-time list with 327 rejections. Bouie holds the record for most blocks by a freshman with 91. The next closest is Coleman with 68, so it's hard to imagine that record ever being broken.
Bouie also blocked eight shots in a game four times, more than anyone else. Bouie's name appears four times in the top 20 single-season totals, which is also the most by any player.
Bouie was one of the pioneers of shot blocking at Syracuse. If it weren't for the next player rewriting the record books, Bouie's shot-blocking game would be remembered as the best ever.
1. Etan Thomas
There is no question Etan Thomas is Syracuse's top shot-blocker.
Not only does he pace the program in blocks but his 424 rejections are also 97 more than Bouie's total. To put that into perspective, Thomas is further ahead of Bouie than Bouie is ahead of Jeremy McNeil, who is sixth on the list.
Thomas has the top two single-season totals ever, and he is the only player to block 130 shots in a season. Oh yeah, he did it twice. Until Melo rolled through, Thomas held the single-game record of nine blocks, which he reached three times in his career.
Thomas made blocking an art form. He could reject players at the rim or pin the ball on the glass from behind. His career average of 3.5 blocks a game is almost a full block more than the second-highest average. And he even holds the team record for most blocks by a sophomore (138) and a junior (131), while having the second-highest total by a senior (107).
No one was more prolific that Thomas. He's the only Syracuse player to block at least 100 shots in three seasons. In fact, he's the only one to block at least 100 in TWO seasons.
Thomas may not be one of the best players ever for Syracuse. But if you were fielding the program's all-defensive team, Thomas is almost certainly the starting center.
All stats courtesy of cuse.com unless otherwise noted.