Sunday, July 22, 2012

Local Snub of Bennerman Grounds For Good Debate

Upon reading a preview about Siena's "Legends Game" published in  the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union newspaper very early this past Tuesday morning, your hoopscribe got a jolt more potent than a strong cup of coffee.

Here was the lead to the preview, as written by current Times Union Siena beat writer Mark Singlas:

"The two best point guards in Siena basketball history won't face each other when many of the greatest players in the program's annals take the court ..."

Oh, Marc Brown and Doremus Bennerman won't be going head-to-head in the contest, was your blogger's initial impression.

But, no ... the writer's point was this: "Instead, Ronald Moore and Marc Brown will be teammates for the inaugural Siena Lengends game ..."

Say what?

What happened to Bennerman?

If Brown is the No. 1 all-time Siena point guard, it is universally accepted (well, almost universally accepted) that Bennerman is No. 1A.

We'll have to give Mr. Singlais a pass on this one, to some extent, since he hasn't been in the Capital Region long enough to have seen Bennerman play.

But, there are historical records, and we'll use them to make our case shortly.

These days, though, there's a strong tendency to think what's recent is best.

Kobe Bryant, for instance, thinks the current Olympic basketball team could beat the "Dream Team" from 1992. Yeah, right.

There are some out there, too, who probably think LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan was, that Kevin Durant is better than Larry Bird was, that Dwight Howard is better than Shaq was, that just about any center of recent vintage is better than was Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain, that Rajon Rondo is better than Bob Cousy was, that current NBA guards (pick any) were better than were Oscar Robertson or Jerry West ...

You get the point. And, now, a Siena beat writer thinks that Moore (who played at Siena from 2006-07 through 2009-10) was better than Bennerman (1990-91 through 1993-94).

Like I said ... Yeah, right.

We're guessing there was a little literary license taken in this case, particularly since Bennerman did not participate in the Siena Legends Game, leaving Brown and Moore as the program's "best point guards" participating in the alumni gathering.

OK, let's examine the evidence ...

Bennerman was the MAAC's MVP in the 1993-94 season, but Moore was never close to winning that honor.

Bennerman was a first-team all-MAAC pick twice, and a second-team pick once. Moore owns one first-team and one second-team recognition.


Bennerman scored 2,109 career points, still the sixth-highest total in MAAC history. Moore had 1,070 points, which doesn't even get him into the top 200.

Bennerman was a career 44.0 percent shooter from the floor, while Moore never shot better than 37.7 percent in any season, and had a low of 31.8 percent as a senior (and 35.7 percent for his career).

Bennerman shot 86.7 percent from the foul line (4th best in MAAC history), while Moore made just 65.2 percent of his foul shots.

Big-game performances? Well, Moore made huge three pointers in a first-round NCAA Tournament game against Ohio State, the first at the end of the first overtime session to tie the game, the other was the game-winner in the second overtime.

Bennerman? He had 174 points in five NIT games, still a record for that event, including 51 points in the consolation round game, the most ever by a MAAC player in a national post-season contest.

The only statistic in which Moore outdoes Bennerman is assists. Moore had 823 in his career, the second-best total in MAAC history. Bennerman had 577, the 10th-best total ever in the league.

In trading e-mails with Mr. Singlais about this particular debate, here was his response: "Moore was a great ball distributor, is the school's career assist leader, and started on three NCAA Tournament teams. It's entirely reasonable to call him one of the school's two best point guards."

Well, not entirely. To anyone who saw Moore play, he was pretty much purely a distributor whose own shooting ability was often so inconsistent that opponents usually dropped off him, using five defenders against Siena's other four players.

Aren't the best players at every position the most well-rounded ones?

Bennerman was a point guard whose own ability to score made his teams more difficult to defend. Double-team him and he found open teammates. Single-cover him, and he could score at will. Moore's ability to create offense for himself was mostly lacking.

And, Bennerman still accumulated 577 career assists while hardly having the likes of Kenny Hasbrouck, Alex Franklin, Ryan Rossiter and Edwin Ubiles to convert his passes.

Moore played with four teammates, at least three years apiece (and, two of them for his full four seasons) who were also first-team conference all-stars and captured three MAAC MVP awards.

Bennerman's teammates his last three years did not include a single first-team all-MAAC selection during those seasons.

Somehow, though, Bennerman lifted his senior-season's team to a 25-8 record. The next season, with Bennerman the only player of significance not returning, Siena fell to 8-19

Reasonable to think Moore was the superior point guard in Siena's annals than Bennerman?

Reasonable if one only considers only the assist numbers of the two players. That's akin to being part of a jury and only taking a small portion of a trial's testimony into consideration.

In every other statistical comparision, Bennerman was by far the superior practitioner of the position.

And, that opinion is solidified by the ever-important "eyeball" test. These eyeballs saw the majority of games of both players, and clearly remembers what they saw.

Ronald Moore was exactly what Mr. Singlais contends ... "a great ball distributor."

Doremus Bennerman was far above average as a ball distributor, with additional evidence of ranking among the MAAC's all-time best statistically in just about everything else he did.

We're not trying to demean Ronald Moore's Siena career. He was indeed a great distributor and, surrounded by conference-level all-stars, was a perfect fit for the teams he played on.

The point here, though, is that Bennerman remains No. 1A among all-time Siena point guards, with Moore considerably behind the top two.

It would be entirely reasonable for any set of eyeballs who saw both play to make that judgment.

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