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  1. #1

    Grant Hill: Better than I remember

    One of the perks of being laid up in bed sick on President's Day is that I got to watch some old Duke games. One of the games that I watched was the 1994 National Championship game against Arkansas. While it still pains me to watch Scotty Thurman drain that prayer of a 3 pointer, I came away so thoroughly impressed with the all around game that Grant Hill had.

    Grant has always been on of my favorite Dukies, if not my favorite, but over time, my memory has diminished just how good he was. He played such an amazing game in all facets: rebounding, passing, blocking shots, altering shots, bringing the ball up most of the game, guarding literally all positions on the floor. His stat line for the game was 12 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, and 3 steals. While those numbers are impressive, I feel that they don't do his performance in this game justice.

    While marveling at Grant's amazing game against Arkansas, I wondered if it might be one of the greatest all around games by a Dukie in a critical game. Obviously, Christian's game against Kentucky comes to mind as well as Shane's all around performance against Arizona. However, I feel like those teams were much better than the 1994 Duke team.

    Let me know what you guys think.

  2. #2
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    Grant

    Before his injuries he was getting top three votes in the mvp race in the NBA. He was a dominant player in every aspect of the game. He would have had a Hall of Fame career with multiple mvp awards and championships. He was so good that he still starts for the Suns today and drops 20 or 30 here and there. As for all around performers that game has to rank up there.

  3. #3
    It's been years since I watched that game (too painful). Can you refresh my memory on two things? Didn't Grant have a terrible fall early in the game that hurt him so bad that it seemed like he might not return (or was that against Purdue earlier)? Also, wasn't there a three-on-one fast break in which Capel tried to go behind his back and kicked the ball off his foot? If I remember correctly, Arkansas took it down the court and scoring off the turnover.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukefan1980 View Post

    While marveling at Grant's amazing game against Arkansas, I wondered if it might be one of the greatest all around games by a Dukie in a critical game. Obviously, Christian's game against Kentucky comes to mind as well as Shane's all around performance against Arizona. However, I feel like those teams were much better than the 1994 Duke team.

    Let me know what you guys think.
    I don't think it could be considered one of the greatest all around games by a Dukie in a critical game if you also factor in his 10 turnovers in that one. Corey Beck did a heck of a job guarding Grant. But that team was on Grant's back all season long. Speaking for myself, that still goes down as one of the most satisfying seasons as a Duke fan. If Thurman misses that rainbow 3, oh man...

    In his senior year, Grant had a great ability to dominate a game without throwing up a ton of points. I think he actually averaged less his senior year than his junior year. We've never seen anything like him since and not sure we ever will.

    As far as critical games, I may have to think that one over but Battier in the 2001 FF Maryland game comes to mind, willing us back from a 22 point deficit.
    "Just be you. You is Enough."

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by nmduke2001 View Post
    It's been years since I watched that game (too painful). Can you refresh my memory on two things? Didn't Grant have a terrible fall early in the game that hurt him so bad that it seemed like he might not return (or was that against Purdue earlier)? Also, wasn't there a three-on-one fast break in which Capel tried to go behind his back and kicked the ball off his foot? If I remember correctly, Arkansas took it down the court and scoring off the turnover.
    He did fall on his hip/elbow on the first play of the game and Capel did try a behind the back pass that unfortunately hit is foot and go out of bounds.

    As far as the turnovers, he did appear to get tired around the midpoint of the second half and made a few careless plays but I was shocked when I looked at the box score to see that he had so many turnovers. It didn't appear that way watching the game.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmduke2001 View Post
    It's been years since I watched that game (too painful). Can you refresh my memory on two things? Didn't Grant have a terrible fall early in the game that hurt him so bad that it seemed like he might not return (or was that against Purdue earlier)? Also, wasn't there a three-on-one fast break in which Capel tried to go behind his back and kicked the ball off his foot? If I remember correctly, Arkansas took it down the court and scoring off the turnover.
    I don't like singling out individual plays as pivotal moments generally speaking, there are exceptions of course. I would have preferred that Grant shoot that final 3 rather than Collins. Hill was the team's leader, a role he had initially shied away from as an underclassman, but embraced and capably filled as a senior. Chris was always a bit trigger happy for my taste. He wanted to be THE GUY propelled by brasheness and desire alone. Grant, with Laettner and Hurley's examples to guide him, possessed the character of tempered steel and with that the understanding of what it means to be a leader. It was his moment. He had just drained a critical three a few minutes earlier and Collins' shot seemed rush. I was not happy that Collins took the shot. However the last time I commented similarly a number of posters rushed to Collins' defense, so maybe my memory is hazy and I'm being unfair to Collins.

    The point is faulting one player for one moment, in this instance Capel, disserves his other contributions to that game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpgL0uiz6Qo. Grant called Capel the MVP of the regionals. I'd kill for a point guard with Capel's ability as a freshman on this year's team.

  7. #7
    It's just your fading memory. Grant was deservedly appreciated during his Duke years. By the time he was out of college he was no longer just Calvin Hill's son. Instead, Calvin was just Grant's dad. Somewhere in those years I was in a DMV line to just behind Calvin. I don't think anyone else recognized him and we live in Redskins territory.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukefan1980 View Post
    Capel did try a behind the back pass that unfortunately hit is foot and go out of bounds.
    I'll always remember this play because Capel successfully executed the same play against Purdue in the Regional Final - hitting Chief for a lay-up. When the same pass failed against Arkansas - it gave me a real pit in my stomach, like - 'This is a different day'. Still and all, when we were up 10 in the second half, I let myself believe, for a second, that the team was on their way to a highly unlikely championship and what a miraculous one it would have been. They came about as close as you can come. Who knew, at that moment, that the program had peaked (in terms of the fabled 86-94 run) and was about to face its greatest period of adversity under K.

    Hill was incredible. To hear how his coaches and teammates talk about him in the Wojciechowski "The Last Great Game" book, is to think that he may be considered the greatest overall talent to ever play for Duke.

  9. #9
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    Grant Hill currently has 16,839 career points. Good for 84th all-time.

    By the end of the season, he should eclipse 17,000 points which would put him in similar company as Chris Webber, Bob Cousy, Kevin McHale, and Earl Monroe.

    Quite the achievement.

    - Chillin

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Dat View Post
    I'll always remember this play because Capel successfully executed the same play against Purdue in the Regional Final - hitting Chief for a lay-up. When the same pass failed against Arkansas - it gave me a real pit in my stomach, like - 'This is a different day'. Still and all, when we were up 10 in the second half, I let myself believe, for a second, that the team was on their way to a highly unlikely championship and what a miraculous one it would have been. They came about as close as you can come. Who knew, at that moment, that the program had peaked (in terms of the fabled 86-94 run) and was about to face its greatest period of adversity under K.

    Hill was incredible. To hear how his coaches and teammates talk about him in the Wojciechowski "The Last Great Game" book, is to think that he may be considered the greatest overall talent to ever play for Duke.
    One of my favorite quotes from the game came from Billy Packer when he said about Grant's leaping ability, "Grant jumps as high as he needs to. I am not sure that there is a limit as to how high he can jump."

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukefan1980 View Post
    While marveling at Grant's amazing game against Arkansas, I wondered if it might be one of the greatest all around games by a Dukie in a critical game.
    Hurley in his last game (vs. Berkeley in 1993) would be up there.
    Between me and every ideal I always find Scheisskopfs, Peckems, Korns and Cathcarts. And that sort of changes the ideal. -- Joseph Heller

  12. #12
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    Hurley vs. Cal, 1993

    His stats from that game:

    40 min, 9/22 fg (6/18 3fg) 8/8ft, 3 reb, 9 ast, 1 turnover (season average was 3+), 2 steals, 32 points. Most of the missed 3s were in the first half. Duke scored 77 total, so he was responsible for two-thirds of Duke's points. (Jason Kidd was responsible for less than half of Cal's).

    The 32 points was Hurley's career high at Duke, and the team high for the year. Let me repeat: Hurley went out on his high.
    Between me and every ideal I always find Scheisskopfs, Peckems, Korns and Cathcarts. And that sort of changes the ideal. -- Joseph Heller

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by CameronBlue View Post
    I don't like singling out individual plays as pivotal moments generally speaking, there are exceptions of course. I would have preferred that Grant shoot that final 3 rather than Collins. Hill was the team's leader, a role he had initially shied away from as an underclassman, but embraced and capably filled as a senior. Chris was always a bit trigger happy for my taste. He wanted to be THE GUY propelled by brasheness and desire alone. Grant, with Laettner and Hurley's examples to guide him, possessed the character of tempered steel and with that the understanding of what it means to be a leader. It was his moment. He had just drained a critical three a few minutes earlier and Collins' shot seemed rush. I was not happy that Collins took the shot. However the last time I commented similarly a number of posters rushed to Collins' defense, so maybe my memory is hazy and I'm being unfair to Collins.

    The point is faulting one player for one moment, in this instance Capel, disserves his other contributions to that game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpgL0uiz6Qo. Grant called Capel the MVP of the regionals. I'd kill for a point guard with Capel's ability as a freshman on this year's team.
    I know it's horrible but I can't help but think "what if" every time I look at Coach Capel. That turnover was huge and a simple bounce pass would have resulted in a sure dunk.

  14. #14
    I've always felt that Grant Hill was the best overall talent Duke ever had. Laettner's career achievements with the 2 buzzer beaters to go to the Final 4 and being the face of Duke's back to back titles certainly gives him the best storybook career. But Grant Hill could play every position on the court and play them all exceptionally well. I think he is the only player that could do that. I remember him playing PG when Hurley fractured his foot. He was the National Defensive player of the year, if I remember correctly. The man could do it all. On top of that, he was everything you could dream of as a representative of Duke University. He and Battier are of the same ilk in that regard.

    If we could have gotten more time out of Kyrie Irving it would have been very interesting to see what he could have done. In a four year career without injury it may have been astounding to see what he could have accomplished.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukefan1980 View Post
    While marveling at Grant's amazing game against Arkansas, I wondered if it might be one of the greatest all around games by a Dukie in a critical game. Obviously, Christian's game against Kentucky comes to mind as well as Shane's all around performance against Arizona. However, I feel like those teams were much better than the 1994 Duke team.

    Let me know what you guys think.
    I don't usually think there's a single answer to this sort of question. But in this case, there is.

    Laettner: 43 minutes, 31 points, 10-10 FG (1-1 from 3), 10-10 FT, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals. One sternum pat.

    On live balls (non-fouls) the ball left his hands twenty times, and went through the hoop twenty times. This is the Sistine Ceiling of individual efforts by a Duke men's basketball player.
    Last edited by throatybeard; 02-21-2012 at 05:32 PM.

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  16. #16
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    I've always felt that Grant Hill was the best overall talent Duke ever had. Laettner's career achievements with the 2 buzzer beaters to go to the Final 4 and being the face of Duke's back to back titles certainly gives him the best storybook career. But Grant Hill could play every position on the court and play them all exceptionally well. I think he is the only player that could do that. I remember him playing PG when Hurley fractured his foot. He was the National Defensive player of the year, if I remember correctly. The man could do it all. On top of that, he was everything you could dream of as a representative of Duke University. He and Battier are of the same ilk in that regard.
    Probably the best all around player in Duke history. Did everything well including dunks; I think he has nearly half of the greatest
    Duke dunks of all time. He's on just about everyone's all time Duke first team.

  17. #17

    collins shot

    Quote Originally Posted by CameronBlue View Post
    I don't like singling out individual plays as pivotal moments generally speaking, there are exceptions of course. I would have preferred that Grant shoot that final 3 rather than Collins. Hill was the team's leader, a role he had initially shied away from as an underclassman, but embraced and capably filled as a senior. Chris was always a bit trigger happy for my taste. He wanted to be THE GUY propelled by brasheness and desire alone. Grant, with Laettner and Hurley's examples to guide him, possessed the character of tempered steel and with that the understanding of what it means to be a leader. It was his moment. He had just drained a critical three a few minutes earlier and Collins' shot seemed rush. I was not happy that Collins took the shot. However the last time I commented similarly a number of posters rushed to Collins' defense, so maybe my memory is hazy and I'm being unfair to Collins.

    I've got to rush in again and take Collins side.

    I think this is a classic second-guess. Chris' shot did not go in, so we try to imagine different scenarios.

    But it was a good shot at the time, maybe the best shot Duke had. Chris was Duke's most prolific 3-point shooter that season -- that was his job. He hit almost twice as many 3-point shots in 1994 (76) as Grant (39). In the championship game, Grant was a mere 1-for-4 on 3s ... Chris was 4-of-8. He had just hit back-toback 3s that tied the score before Thurman's 3. He came down and got a good look -- the shot rimmed out.

    Okay, he missed, so if you want to fantacize about Grant taking the shot ... fine. No telling what would have happened if he had. But in the context of the game, Collins' shot was at least as good -- and maybe a better -- option.

    I can't agree that Grant played one of the best games any Duke player played in a crucial game in the title game against Arkansas. He did some things very well -- 14 rebounds, three blocks, three steals. But he also had those nine turnovers (not 10) and he was 4-of-11 from the floor. It was a very good, very gutsy performance ... but not Grant's best. Much less Duke's best.

    I do agree that we forget how good Grant was before he started to have foot problems -- either first or second-team All-NBA in his first five season. Think about that -- in his first five seasons he was one of the top 10 players in the NBA. Then he was hurt.

    There's another thread on this message board about "What Might Have Beens" for NBA players. We could have one for Duke players -- Bobby Hurley and Jason Williams in the backcourt, Grant on the wing and Christian Laettner (who blew his achilles tendon the offseason after making the NBA All-star game for the first time) and Elton Brand, whose career averages were 21 points and 11 rebounds before he blew out an achilles in 2008 (since returning, he's been closer to 15 and 8). You could add Gene Banks and Johnny Dawkins as two guys who had good (not great) careers cut short by injuries.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by hq2 View Post
    Probably the best all around player in Duke history. Did everything well including dunks; I think he has nearly half of the greatest
    Duke dunks of all time. He's on just about everyone's all time Duke first team.
    Grant and Shane were the ultimate "queens on the chessboard". Could do virtually anything.

    I'd give Grant the edge just due to his ability to play the point. While Shane was an amazing defender, he wasn't the eraser that Grant was, either. Grant was truly an elite, Augmon-esque defender by his senior season.

    I always consider Grant the most talented player of the K era, but that kind of downplays how much he adapted and worked on his game. Just a tremendous, tremendous player, among the best in NCAA history.

    dukemsu

  19. #19
    Two different things.

    Throatybeard is undoubtedly correct on individual performance.
    No one can beat Laettner on that night.

    Grant was probably the most versatile pure athlete.

    Weren't we lucky to have them both?

  20. #20
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    My favorite Grant Hill game was at Cameron against Clemson in 1994.

    It was a Saturday afternoon. Duke had gone to Chapel Hill the previous Thursday night ranked number one but had lost convincingly, 89-78, to a physical Carolina team that included Eric Montross, Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Salvadori and Jerry Stackhouse.

    Duke was toast against Clemson. Exhausted, mentally and physically. The Clemson game was tight down the stretch. Duke came up with a simple but elegant game plan. Get the ball to Grant and get out of the way. Duke would burn the shot clock, Grant would start about 20-25 feet outside, dribble to the basket and dare Clemson to stop him.

    They couldn't. He hit 10-17 from the field, 11-12 from the line, 33 points, six assists. Duke won 78-74. He simply put Duke on his back and willed them to victory.

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