The ACC and NCAA didn't begin keeping assists until 1973. Before that, there were sporadic counts -- we know Dick Groat's assist totals because a young Bill Brill kept them. But it's meaingless to say Groat led the nation in assists because most schools didn't keep assists for most games. The ACC did keep assists for ACC Tournament games in the early days, but not regular season games.
When assists started being kept in the mid-1970s, there was wide variation on the intepretation as to what is an assist. Today, almost any pass that is followed by a basket is an assist. Chris Corchiani racked up a lot of his assists by merely throwing the ball to Rodney Monroe, who made a jump shot. That wasn't not an assist anywhere in the ACC in the mid-1970s. Greg Paulus led he ACC in assists as a freshman in 2006 -- many of his assists coming on passes to JJ Redick, who would then nail a 3. Agan, not an assist in the mid-70s.
The first school to approach the modern interpretation of assists was Clemson, where SID Bob Bradley was the ACC's chief statitician (he kept the official scorebook for every ACC Tournament game not involving Clemson until the 1980s). The last place to loosen up was Virginia, where for years, statistician Doyle Smith was notorious for awarding just three or four assists game. Doyle didn't really loosen up until John Crotty came around at he end of the 1980s.
In that context, Phil Ford's 753 career assists between 1975-78 are a monumental total. He still ranks 11th in ACC history even though he is the only guy in the top 25 who played before 1980. He's 12th in ACC history in career points scored -- the highest rank of any true point guard. He was ACC Tournament MVP as a freshman (when UNC had to win the tournament to go to the NCAA Tournament) and was ACC player of the year as a senior. In between, he was three-time first-team All-ACC. I can't think of another ACC PG who cn match that accomplishment. Oh, he was the starting point guard on the 1976 Olympic Gold Medal team.
Ford is also the only true ACC point guard to be consensus naional player of the year. He's one of two ACC point guards to be two-time consensus first team All-American (along with John Lucas and it could be argued that Lucas gave up the PG job to Brad Davis in 1975). I realize that Jason Williams is a special case, since he shared the point with Chris Duhon at the end of the 2001 season and for all of 2002 (when Jason was natonal player of the year).
I would pick Ford over Hurley, Lucas, Jason Wlliams and maybe Kenny Anderson (he was great for two years) as the ACC's greatest point guard.
I just think that Bobby's will, drive and toughness along with two NC's and assits (however you both make great points about the difference in how they were measured) make him the top IMHO.... again, this is one of those questions where there is going to be a lot of subjection involved. One quick point is that I think you have to consider it has been 20 years since he set that assist record and it still stands... of course a lot of great PG's left early, but BH can't help that. Comparing players from different eras will always be an apple oranges thing due to the evolution of the game.
Bobby Hurley to ME (again not trying to convert anyone) was the best for the reasons I stated and the fact that (I never shy away from my bias because it is there and I must acknowledge it) he wore a Duke uniform. However I will conceed that there are players such as Ford who could be considered better PG's with very solid reasoning. I often think I may be confusing "favorite" with "best", but I really do think he was the "best" given the accomplishments he achieved. I actually think my favorite Duke PG was JWill. Ford was a beast, and almost unstopable during his time. He ran the four corners to perfection which is one reason that as a kid I loathed him... but he was truely amazing. Heaven's I hated the four corners... take the GOOD LORD that they put in a shot clock.
I would love to have seen a Hurley/Williams back court or an Irving/Williams back court.
OK, I have stated the Phil Ford was one of (maybe the) greatest if thinking with your head vice heart (as I have confessed to doint) point guards to play.
But, it is almost an apple oranges type of argument simple because of the shot clock. Ford never had to "push" the game (with the exception of end of half/game clock). He would have been great with a shot clock because he was a phenominal talent, but let's not overlook the difference having 35 seconds to get it done vice in some cases several minutes to make a play and how that "might" have affected his ability....
Plus, did I mention that Bobby Hurley hit the most pressure packed 3 pointers in Duke history and lead Duke to BTB NC's??
Ok, I know, TMI, TMI, but OH, what a shot and what a feeling to see that kid have the guts to take it.... BY FAR my favorite single Duke play of all time..... "The shot" against UK is a close second, but hey we had already banked a NC by that time, Life was good after living with the Duke teams of the early seventies until we finally got that first (btw do we still hold the record for the most trips to a FF without a NC?) we did at one time...
I'll give up on pointing out factors that favor Hurley; it is obvious that you will just keep shooting me down with your inexhaustible basketball knowledge. In a court room with twelve unbiased jurors you would win the case, although I think we might be able to get some jury deliberation time.... but in my mind, BH was and always will be the best..... BTW I hardly ever convince anyone with my argument anyway…
But nobody remembers the 3-point play Brian Davis made shortly afterwards, driving the baseline, hitting the banker, drawing the foul and making the freebie. A huge shot and from a role player, not a star.
This is a tough question. My first instinct is Johnny Dawkins and Tommy Amaker so I'll go with it.
United States Navy (Retired)
If I can choose any two guys that played on the same team as my Duke backcourt, I'll take Jdub and Dunleavy from 01/02. I personally thought those two were 1A and 1B, the best players in the country that season. The draft that year reflected such sentiments. Might have some defensive liabilities with Mike guarding the two spot, but since they would score pretty much every time, who cares?