Around this time last year, inspired by Grantland's magnificent attempt to identify the most hated college basketball player from the last 30 years, Joe McCann, Dan Maciejewski and I endeavored to create a similar, single-elimination tournament to find THE most hated opposing player in Marquette's recent history. To that end, we created a bracket with the 48 most reviled Marquette opponents from the last 20 (or so) years.
We managed to get through two rounds of voting before a couple of problems torpedoed the whole thing. The first was my fault: not realizing how popular AE is with the young'ins, I didn't provide any info about the players included in the brackets other than their names, so the folks who started following Marquette in the last couple years had no idea why (for example) they should hate Donald Little or Jobey Thomas. The second, as is often the case, was the fault of Louisville fans, who flooded the ballot box to vote for UofL players. When Eric Devendorf was getting run out of the gym by Edgar Sosa, we knew we had to make some changes.
So: changes we've made. We've now included brief summaries of all of the jerkfaces included in the brackets. More importantly, we've now confined the players from the four overrepresented schools -- Louisville, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin -- to particular brackets. (I also reserve the right to award myself 100 votes should shenanigans transpire in the future.)
Below you'll find our Notre Dame-heavy bracket, which we've dubbed the Digger Phelps Memorial Pod.
Story Two: when Dan, Joe, and I were originally sorting out these brackets a year ago, Connaughton's name wasn't on the list. I suggested he be considered, and that very night, Marquette got smoked by ND in the Big East Tournament and Connaughton hit like 14 3-pointers. I blame myself. I'm very sorry.
Most of you are probably too young to remember Jobey Thomas, who starred for UNC-Charlotte and Coach Bobby Lutz (RHYMES WITH PUTZ!) around the turn of the millenium, but dude was as aggravating as any of the sharpshooting honkies that Notre Dame or Wisconsin have run out over the last 20 years. His name? Aggravating. (I'm just glad that he finished playing before Arrested Development started, because I wouldn't have found Gob Bluth nearly as funny if Jobey Thomas was still in my life.) His team's nickname? Aggravating. (Wikipedia says something about Charlotte adopting "49ers" because the school was almost closed but was saved in 1949 and something something I fell asleep. I don't care.) His game? Aggravating. He was the kind of cat who could do one thing, and only one thing, and everybody knew he could only do one thing, and we still let him do that one thing 5 or 6 times a game. Blech. I want to go spit now.
If we had done a separate bracket for Guys Who Stuck Around Long Enough To Get A Doctorate, Sammy Mejia probably would've been a one seed. That guy was at DePaul for-EV-er, back when DePaul wasn't the basketball equivalent of a tipped-over Port-o-Let that it's become in the last five years. Back then, before Ol' Gil had taken the helm and worked his magic, the Demons were an occasional pain in the ass, and Mejia was the main reason why. His best performance against MU came in January 2005, when Marquette had snuck back into the Top 25 and had the look of a team that was figuring things out at the right time, and then Sammy Mejia goes off for 26 points and obliterates anyone and everyone we throw at him and DePaul blows us off the court and we end up going 5-10 the rest of the way and lose to Western Michigan at home in the NIT. Those were the bad times.
Hey, speaking of guys who were around forever: if memory (and Google) serves, Chris Thomas started his college career in 2001-'02, the same year that Dwyane Wade first stepped on the court for Marquette. And yet: I swear to God he was playing against Dom James and Wes Matthews and was at Notre Dame for the first five or six years Marquette was in the Big East. But no, says Google, Marquette only played Thomas' Irish twice, and that first go-round wasn't at all pleasant, as freshman Thomas erupted for 32 points, hit 5 threes, and handed out 10 assists as ND throttled Marquette by 21 in South Bend.