Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jersey retirement, by the numbers

Retired college basketball jerseys, or numbers, or jerseys and numbers, are suddenly in the news. The Charlotte 49ers recently announced their eighth retired jersey, the No. 13 of swing man Eddie Basden (right, 2001-’05). That will become official in a ceremony that will take place at halftime of the 49ers’ televised home game with Xavier Feb. 19.

There’s more; with the recent death of former Davidson all-American center Mike Maloy, a number of people have suggested that the school waive its graduation requirement for having a jersey retired. Maloy, called the Wildcats’ best player by former coach Lefty Driesell, never graduated but led the team to two NCAA Tournament regional finals.

That got us wondering. How many retired jerseys (numbers?) do each of our area schools have, anyway?

Before we jump in, remember that there is a difference between a retired jersey and a retired number. Time was, you retired a jersey and the number went with it. Now universities are getting away from that, because sooner or later — since numbers with digits above 5 aren’t allowed in basketball (officials signal fouls on players using their fingers to give the culprits’ numbers) — there is the possibility of running out of numbers.

The list follows; in parentheses are the total number of numbers — not jerseys — retired.

DUKE (13): The Blue Devils top all of our Division I schools with 13 numbers retired. They are, in chronological order by careers, Dick Groat (10), Art Heyman (25), Jeff Mullins (44), Mike Gminski (43), Johnny Dawkins (24), Danny Ferry (35), Christian Laettner (32), Bobby Hurley (11), Grant Hill (33), Shane Battier (31), Jason Williams (22), Shelden Williams (23) and J.J. Redick (4).

The Duke media guide says that while there is no “official” criteria to have a jersey retired, the player must achieve at a national level. Considering how often that happens in Durham these days, the Blue Devils may soon run out of numbers.

WAKE FOREST (10): For the Deacons, like Duke, retired jerseys also mean retired numbers.

Wake’s highest honorees are Dickie Hemrick (24), Len Chappell (50), Charlie Davis (12), Skip Brown (15), Rod Griffin (32), Muggsy Bogues (14), Rodney Rogers (54), Randolph Childress (22), Tim Duncan (21) and Josh Howard (5).

While seven of the Deacons have been ACC Players of the Year, the other three haven’t, and Wake seems to make its selections more by feel.

(8): Basden will mean eight is enough, at least for now. The 49ers do call theirs retired jerseys and not numbers, but try not to pass the numbers out again if they can help it. They are Melvin Watkins (32), Cedric Maxwell (33), Bryon Dinkins (4), Henry Williams (34), Jarvis Lang (23), DeMarco Johnson (4), Charles Hayward (45) and now Basden.

To be so honored, Niners must be graduates and meet a number of other criteria, including awards received, personal character and the success of the team.

(8): Well, it isn’t quite eight yet, because Tyler Hansbrough (above) is still using his No. 50. But since he was 2008’s National Player of the Year, he's qualified. To have his jersey/number retired, a Tar Heel must win that national player of the year award.

Jerseys/numbers already hanging in the Smith Center rafters include Jack Cobb (before numbers), George Glamack (20), Lennie Rosenbluth (10), Phil Ford (12), James Worthy (52), Michael Jordan (23) and Antawn Jamison (33).

Numerous other Tar Heels have had their jerseys honored, meaning that they get a spot in the Dean Dome but that their numbers stay in play.

The Wildcats don’t have different categories; those with their numbers/jerseys retired are Hobby Cobb (21), Fred Hetzel (44), Dick Snyder (10), John Gerdy (33) and Derek Rucker (11).

A primary requirement of being so honored is the player’s graduation, and that’s a stumbling block for three-time all-American Maloy (No. 15 above).

(5): The jerseys of Grady Wallace (42), John Roche (11), Kevin Joyce (43), Alex English (22) and BJ McKie (3) have been retired, along with their numbers. And while there will be more jerseys retired in the future, numbers will not be, keeping them available to future players.

Qualifications for jersey retirement must include one of the following—be a university record holder, a consensus all-American, a consensus national player of the year or all-SEC first- or second team for three years.

There is a five-year waiting period and although graduation is not required, but the player must be in a position to graduate.

The Tigers once retired jerseys, and Banks McFadden (23) and Tree Rollins (30) were so honored. But the school no longer does so; players can instead be placed in the Ring of Honor and one —Dale Davis, No. 34 — has been. To be in the ring, players must get their degrees and and make a significant contribution to the heritage of Clemson basketball. A committee decides who is worthy.

N.C. STATE (1): The Wolfpack has retired just one jersey, the No. 44 of David Thompson (above), quite possibly the best player in ACC history. The school has another category called “honored jerseys,” and 21 more players are in that group.

They are Dick Dickey, Sammy Ranzino, Bobby Speight, Ronnie Shavlick, Vic Modolet, Lou Pucillo, John Ritcher, Tommy Burleson, Kenny Carr, Vann Williford, Vinny Del Negro, Nate McMillan, Monte Towe, Thurl Bailey, Sidney Lowe, Dereck Whittenburg, Chris Corchiani, Rodney Monroe, Tom Gugliotta, Julius Hodge and Todd Fuller.

(1): Only one Pirate has been honored to this point, with the No. 14 of Bobby Hodges, who played from 1951 to ’54, having been retired. Hodges is still the Pirates’ all-time leading scorer.

-- Stan Olson


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