MGoHall of Fame: Basketball Nominees

Submitted by Brian on May 14th, 2012 at 12:30 PM

See also: what this is, hockey nominees.

Zack Novak


PROS: If he was a Football Manager player, would have an influence and work rate of 20. This means he's a gritty grittenstein who everyone loves because he defies his physical limitations to be pretty good. Had an Aneurysm of Leadership to lead Michigan to its first victory in Breslin since 1997.

Also nailed six threes in that game. Iconically bled all over himself in a game against Illinois during Michigan's first tourney push since the program's NCAA immolation. Kind of a walking capital-L Leadership avatar. The kind of player opposing fans loathe. Our Brian Cardinal. Swears like a sailor and has problems keeping his emotions in check.

Can dunk!

CONS: Was never a star. Senior year usage was 14.3%, in the "role player" arena. Repeatedly posterized by men a half-foot taller than him, though this could be filed under a positive from a grit perspective. Clocked an OSU player late in a loss to get booted.

Darius Morris

PROS: Amazing sophomore year saw him finish top five in assist rate nationally and shoot efficiently despite an astronomic usage rate. Told Kalin Lucas to get off his #$&*ing court, and Lucas had to since Michigan had just swept Michigan State for the first time since paper was invented. Was the engine of Michigan's second tourney birth since the NCAA immolation, this one not a skin-of-your-teeth bubble nailbiter. Nearly led Michigan to an upset of Duke in the secound round. If only that floater had dropped…

CONS: Made a poor decision to enter the draft early, limiting his impact to that one year—his freshman year was not exactly Trey Burke's. Draft entry decision seemingly taken in full knowledge that he was unlikely to go in first round. That's tough to take, and it seems like a one-year phenom has to be more phenomenal to get in here.

Also while it's not his fault that Tim Doyle called him "butterfly," it is a regrettably true thing.

Manny Harris

PROS: Best player on Michigan's tourney-drought-breaking team, with massive usage (32%, top 25 nationally), a nearly-as-massive assist rate, and okay shooting. Major factor in the win at Minnesota that essentially got Michigan into the tourney.

A guy who signed up with Michigan when he had other options and there wasn't much reason to be a Wolverine. Stuck with it despite the Amaker firing. Way less crazy than Alex Legion. Actual full name is "Corperryale L'Adorable Harris," which… wow. Key guy in Michigan's perception-altering wins over UCLA and Duke in 2009.

CONS: Also made a debatable-at-best decision to enter the draft early and has spent his NBA career on the fringes of the Cavs' roster. Had blowups with Beilein that caused him to sit during critical periods. Tended toward lazy habits like jacking up contested threes. Had a little Rasheed Wallace disease while at M wherein he seems like less than he should be. Michigan disappointed greatly in his final year despite losing only a couple of walk-ons and Kelvin Grady.

Daniel Horton


PROS: Yeah, he's eligible. If this is a surprise it just goes to show how long ago 2006 seems in basketball terms.

Horton's teams never made the tournament but in his last go-round he was the main man on an outfit Kenpom likes better (#31) than a couple of Beilein outfits that got in. And he was fantastic: 28% usage the #35 assist rate, a bunch of steals, 90% free throw shooting, 49% from two, and 39% from three. That team would have made the tourney if they a) hadn't gone from 16-3 to 18-10 to end the year and b) hadn't blown it against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament.

I think we all forget how good Horton was because his teams never got anywhere.

CONS: Teams never got anywhere. He's holding the NIT MVP trophy above, a career-summing photo if there ever was one. While this isn't his fault it is a downer. Got suspended for most of his junior year thanks to a domestic violence thing he pled guilty to.

DeShawn Sims

Michigan's DeShawn Sims holds up a framed game jersey as he and fellow seniors Zack Gibson and Anthony Wright were recognized before their final game at Crisler Arena. The seniors went out winners with a 83-55 trouncing of Minnesota, Tuesday night March 2nd. 
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com95581892_display_image[1]

This was difficult to separate out since there are a number of candidates with things to recommend them: Brent Petway, Graham Brown, and Stuart Douglass were tough to leave out, but they all seemed like junior versions of Novak in the grit category.

PROS: The other top banana on Michigan's drought-breaker. A skilled power forward forced to play out of position at center too much, Sims was a wildly inconsistent player capable of dropping 20 on 8 shots one night and 2 on 8 the next night. These swings correlated very well with the height of his opponent. Are you a below-the-rim 6'8" kid at Northwestern? Forget it. Are you a shotblocker? Enjoy your feast.

Sims came back from an unimaginable personal tragedy—his brother was shot to death—endured during his freshman year to be a mainstay for his final three years. He was high-usage, a quality rebounder, and rarely turned the ball over. These things made up for some eh shooting percentages to make him an efficient player. Another guy who had options but decided to go with Michigan at a time where there was little reason to.

CONS: Has the same knock Manny Harris did since his final year was the disappointing follow-up to the tourney appearance. Was never a really great player and doesn't bring Novak-level fan intangibles (FANTANGIBLES!) with him.



May 14th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

Probably should’ve posted this under the HoF structure thread last week but I missed it.  If we wanted to go scientific (why expect anything less from UM alums) and put in a little more effort, I have access to Decision Lens – decision making software that many pro teams use to value  players toward determining their draft lists. 


1.       Identify alternatives (done, see above).

2.       Identify and define criteria upon which to rate the alternatives.  These could include (from Brian’s criteria list):

a.       Overall greatness

b.      Mistiness on senior day

c.       Time served

3.       Brian compares the criteria to each other to determine a weighted criteria priority scale like this:

a.       Overall greatness – 50%

b.      Mistiness on senior day – 20%

c.       Time served – 30%

4.       Have MGoBlog fans judge each candidate on how he rates with regard to each criterion using linear or non-linear scaling such as 1 -5 where 5 is given extra value and 1-2 extra deduction.

5.       The software’s matrix algorithms automatically provide the racked and stacked value for each player, the top 1 or 2 of which is thus voted into the HoF or as Brian sees fit.

Otherwise, my vote is Novak.

Blue in Yarmouth

May 14th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

Of that group I would say the only ones I would find worthy of any sort of HoF would be Novak for all the reasons you provide and perhaps Horton. The rest I just don't think would fit the bill really, but that's just MHE. Maybe an outside shot for D. Sims as well.


May 14th, 2012 at 2:08 PM ^

I agree.  Novak was the only one I saw and immediately said 100% he's gotta be in the Hall.  The other guys I could take or leave, and I feel like they're all pretty even so if one of them got in it would be hard to justify not including the other ones.  They were the best players on their respective teams, yes, but those teams weren't very good for the most part.  Novak wasn't the best player on his team, but you could still make the argument that he was the most important player on his team, which speaks volumes and sets him apart.


May 14th, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

...that the two most impactful players in recent Michigan MBB history are Zach Novak and Stu Douglass -- not necessarily in their stats, but in how they willed the program back to prominence (even as bigger stars (Harris, Sims, Morris, Hardaway, Burke) came and went.

I vote for Novak.


May 14th, 2012 at 6:22 PM ^

that the NBA was impressed by their teammates?

I think you're trying to argue that the team's success had something to do with their decisions? It's not like their teammates elevated them into lottery picks.  Neither Harris and Morris had impressive draft stock - so clearly NBA talent evaluators weren't TOO impressed with Michigan's success. Players can leave whenever they want to, so 'being able to leave' has nothing to do with it.  Those guys did what they wanted to do and it has worked out fairly well for them.   I don't think Novak would claim any credit (or blame) for those guys leaving early.


May 14th, 2012 at 5:20 PM ^

I guess I never bought into the argument that Novak and Douglass "willed" the team back - they played hard and were good leaders, but Beilein plus some talented players flourishing is what got this team back.  To dismiss Harris, Morris, Burke, Simms, etc. because they were "stars" and thus you expected them to be that good is a disservice to what they did on the court.  I love the scrappy guys, but Morris was the one who was a top-5 passer in the NCAA, and it was Harris and Simms who took that first team on their backs and willed them into the tourney.  Novak played well at times, and his defense was solid against stiff competition, but I feel like we sometimes fall in love with the gritty kids because we don't expect as much from them, while minimizing the accomplishments of the greater players because they are supposed to be that good.


May 14th, 2012 at 8:13 PM ^

It should be about absolute production (not statistical, but what they mean to the team), not what they did relative to our own expectations.  It shouldn't matter one bit if Novak  was a 6'3 2-star or a 6'11 4-star. 

Apparently, it's more about the emotional attachment of fans than basketball.


May 14th, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

I don't think Michigan is where it is right now without him.  He showed that PGs could flourish in Beilein's system and made Michigan a dangerous team in year when many, myself included, thought they wouldn't make the tournament.  He might be the most important player in the last fifteen years of Michigan basketball. 

Note:  I'll also vote for Novak, obviously. 


May 14th, 2012 at 6:14 PM ^

I don't disagree that Morris is extremely important and that his commitment as a 4-star out of CA was Beilein's first big stepping stone, but to say that he is the most important player of the last 15 years is ludicrous. Also, yes, he showed that a true PG could flourish in Beilein's system, but don't forget that Burke was already committed before DMo decided to go pro. It's not like that was that big of a deal for the program.


May 14th, 2012 at 12:51 PM ^

that Horton had a terrific freshman year and we would have made the tourney that year had we been elligible.

But If I had to vote for one player it'd probably be Sims. That performance vs. Duke at home was incredible, and I simply always liked him more than Manny.


May 14th, 2012 at 12:54 PM ^

Novak is the best option by far on that list.  After that I'd go Manny Harris, Sims, then Morris.  Morris had amazing contributions during one year, but he wasn't insanely dominant that year anyway, he had a lot of help from Hardaway


May 14th, 2012 at 12:57 PM ^

Geez. None of those guys really warrant it.

If anything, Novak-Douglass should be inducted as a combo package based on their importance to the program. Neither of them by themselves warrants it.



May 14th, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

I agree. I'm going to be that obnoxious hall voter who doesn't vote for anyone.

Thinking about criteria, I'm thinking I'm going to vote along the lines of "best player on good to very good teams (it seems making the tournament is an acceptable "good" line) across a multi-year time span." That for me eliminates Morris (1 year), Horton (no "good" teams. Unfortunate, but there's also the domestic violence thing).

That leaves...

Novack: if there was a Hall of the Very Important, he'd be in for sure. Played basically everywhere from 2-4 for 4 years, 3 teams made tournament, 3 year captain. Can make the case that he, more than anyone, was at the center of the program's transformation. Great glue guy, as well, making Seth Davis's "All-Glue Team" twice.... Still, never averaged double figures scoring, never in top 2 scorers on team, only in top 2 in rebounds or assists once (rebounds junior year). Not that this should be determinative, but had terrible last game (though the role in the MSU wins outweighs this). Not quite enough production to merit inclusion, IMO. Probably the closest of any of those listed though.

Harris: Certainly the best player on a good team (by the standards set above) in sophomore year. Led team in scoring all 3 seasons. 2nd in rebounding from the guard spot. Probably most responsible for ending tournament drought. Still... that 3rd year was such a disappointment, kind of the polar opposite to Novack when it comes to team play. I don't want to rely too much on intangibles but I don't want to dismiss them entirely, with the epitome being "benched in overtime in near must-win game."

Peedi: Second best player for his last three years. Leading rebounder. Reliable second option when Harris was sharing the ball. Still... that senior year collapse. Like Brian said, wasn't really able to transcend the limitations of his height to impact the game against very good teams. 




May 14th, 2012 at 6:42 PM ^

If Harris is such a bad character and Novak such a great leader, should 1 year really matter that much?  Isn't the lack of point guard play the bigger factor?

Seems like everyone is giving Novak credit for elevating the program, but the program won 21 games his freshman year on Manny's back.  THAT was the team that really put Michigan back on the map.  Yeah, they crapped out the following season, but that's on everyone on that team.

I think Novak's case will be a lot stronger if next year's struggles, otherwise it's hard to see how he had much to do with the needle moving.  He's a great role player, but not a program-chaing HOFer, in my book.


May 14th, 2012 at 3:15 PM ^

It's the MGoHallofFame, so people can vote for anything they want, but I don't think any qualify as "Fame-worthy".  The fact that they're candidates is more a sign of how bad the program has been. I knew the basketball one was going to be problematic.  Because Novak is the only one close to being deserving. And almost all his pros are intangibles. Not on court contributions (which were there, but not really HoF worthy). I have no doubt he gets in, and if this is strictly going to be a "guys who won't get acclaim anywhere else, but deserve some dap", then he deserves to be a lock.  But he's going to stand out when you look at the guys who get in as football and hockey players.  None of the rest even deserve a future ballot entry (nice guys and decent players they may have been).


May 14th, 2012 at 4:31 PM ^

I think you're being a little harsh.

"The fact that they're candidates is more a sign of how bad the program has been" is probably not an okay thing to say on a blog that Michigan athletes and former athletes frequent.

These were all talented hard-working players, and objectively Novak was probably the least talented of the bunch.  It is my thinking that this was meant to honor players like Brandon Graham and Brandon Minor, great players whose teams might not have excelled.  Not to tear them down unnecessarily.


May 14th, 2012 at 5:05 PM ^

The program had been god-awful for 15 years. And just really started climbing out of it this year. And to say otherwise is to forget all the truly great players who played for Michigan for years before that. And a good portion of the nominees didn't make it through their U-M careers (when even te OP says it was a bad idea), so I'm pretty sure they don't care what's said on a Michigan Blog, or whether they are "blog hall of fame worthy".

If it's "not to tear them down unnecessarily", then don't vote or debate it, just put some players Brian likes in and leave it at that, just because "it's his blog." Because if you're going to let everyone in, it has no meaning, and you might as well just call them "Michigan Men", which is honor enough, as they're all in that already. You illustrate the point perfectly...because when football comes up, Brandon Minor won't be getting a sniff over the Graham's, Long's, Hart's, Henne's, etc. if these basketball players are that equivalent, why are we grading on a curve for them? Just to have someone go in for basketball? You lower the standards for one sport and not the other one's, THAT'S insulting.


May 14th, 2012 at 5:22 PM ^

     Michigan WAS a God-aweful program when these guys played.  But these guys fought like rabid dogs anyway.  We honor Brandon Graham because he tore through offensive lineman as if his life depended on it for nothing else but his pride and for Michigan. 

     Well these guys didn't just stumble into the situation like Graham.  They chose it.  They knew exactly what they were getting into, and they fought like hell anyway.

     Which is more deserving of honor?


May 14th, 2012 at 6:21 PM ^

You hit the nail on the head here. I love Brandon Graham just as much as the next guy, but guys like Manny Harris, Deshawn Sims, and Daniel Horton CHOSE to play for Michigan when we were terrible at basketball (and also on probation in Horton's case) AND despite having had many offers to play elsewhere. You won't find a bigger Novak and Stu fan then me, but let's be real here. Michigan was basically their only big-time option. Yes, they played their hearts out and really turned the program around, but they didn't choose to go to Michigan in spite of our poorly-performing program. Bring out the lynch forks on me, but I would even venture to say that both Novak and Stu would have actually gone to Indiana if they had the opportunity as scholarship players.


May 14th, 2012 at 7:47 PM ^

The idea isn't to reward good high school players who choose to go to Michigan. It's to award players for what they meant to the program while they were here.

Furthermore, the suggestion that Novak would be out of place on this or any list of Michigan greats is absurd. In collegiate athletics, talent alone doesn't define greatness. More often than not, such accolades are bestowed by the students and the fans and the teammates who rallied around and for that player, and followed that player to places beyond their own expectations. 

Greatness in college sports has to do with leadership and the ability to mold a program in one's own image. Not only is Novak the paragon of such criteria, none other than Cazzie Russel said he'd want Novak by his side in a foxhole. 

When was the last time a single player has meant as much to his program as Novak has meant to the MBB team these past four years?

I'd string that ZERO up next to Russell's in the rafters in a heartbeat if I could. 


May 14th, 2012 at 12:58 PM ^

Had fun watching the D Mo highlight reel.  That kid really could pass.  That said, I think Novak is the only one on the list that is HOF worthy.  Hopefully many more to come.


May 14th, 2012 at 1:00 PM ^

No wonder Michigan only just started making the tournament.

I'm surprised about Horton's eligibility, too; I kinda lean his direction, but then the cons for him are big. Of course, the cons for everyone on this list are big. The way Brian has described the criteria seems to make the MGoHOF an ideal place for Novak.

No way that more than one player gets in this year.


May 14th, 2012 at 1:11 PM ^

How has ABC or one of the other local breweries not yet come out with a "Corperry Ale?" Seems like such a no-brainer.

It could give rise to the "Manny Harris" -- a double shot* of whiskey in a tall shot glass** depicting a puppy*** the opening of which you cover partially with your thumb****, chased by chugging a Corperry Ale.



**long shot





May 14th, 2012 at 1:12 PM ^

I love Sims- I remember fondly the Duke game and rushing the court.

If the team were more popular at the time he'd get much more love.

Horton fits the same mold of a great player without any real fan support playing during the duldrum years...

I'd like a graduation requirement though- Harris leaving early was a joke- and he was a horrible team guy.  Morris was huge- but 4 years of Novak trumps 2 years of a superior Morris.

I take Sims and Novak (heart of the group that rebuilt the program) and can go either way with Horton.


May 14th, 2012 at 1:59 PM ^

A graduation requirement would eliminate guys like Charles Woodson of he were under consideration, and makes even less sense in basketball, a sport with ever-more-rapid turnover. The best players never stay four years, and you don't win without the best players.

I strongly suspect that a Syracuse blog doing the same thing we are would vote Carmelo Anthony into its "Hall" with little dissent. Why not? He was great and he led them to a national title.

The consequence of leaving early is much more basic in this paradigm; players who leave early don't accomplish as much. You don't need to add any extra restriction to your evaluation of Darius Morris--he just didn't accomplish as much at Michigan as he could have. If that one season is enough to get recognition, fine; but it probably isn't. His legacy is materially damaged by its short length.


May 14th, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

I agree it may be harsh but a lot of schools have graduation requirements for retired numbers or hall of fame type tributes.  Melo won a NC so thats a pretty huge difference.  Unless you changed the face of the program and left early I think a players that leaves early isn't quite HOF material.  Morris was good but we weren't sweet 16, and he didn't change the face of the program like Melo or other early NBA guys.  Part of why people love Novak and Stu is what they represented and how they brought the program back with their attitude, hustle, and talent- leaving early takes away from that and from the "student-athlete" cmponent that is important for a college tribute IMO.



May 14th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

You've reinforced my point. We don't need a graduation requirement for Morris because one good season and a tournament win over Tennessee just doesn't merit HOF status. His two-year resume is simply unremarkable, which is one of the reasons going pro was a bad idea. Leaving early is its own consequence, because the player ofteb leaves accomplishments on the table.

Charles Woodson left early. But his resume was already pretty full.


May 14th, 2012 at 1:31 PM ^

I've got Novak and Horton as first year HOFers. Novak(obviously) and Horton for giving us something to cheer for...when there wasn't much to cheer for. Darius would probably get my vote next year based solely on GTFOMC...That game(and Izzo crying that we ran up the score) was the single greatest event in my sports spectating life.

Of the other guys...probably not this year. I'd have to put Trey, and Brown, Chris Young and Amadou Ba in there ahead of some of the others...I'll always remember mascot wars in EL.

Edit...How could I forget about Stu?

You can not have one without the other.

StuVak, first ballot. End of discussion.


May 14th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

This whole hall of fame thing was started to honor Novak (Hunwick too). He's a no brainier. The only other person on this list that has the be necessary attitude and skill is Horton. The others were not, or not yet lovable players. Sims was nice, but so was Pettway. Manny left a bad taste in my mouth and Morris left to soon, then was eclipsed by his replacement. The Horton vote should be interesting.


May 14th, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

     Horton does have a few things working against him.  Time being the greatest of them.  A lot of people didn't even follow hoops during the tourney drought.  He was injured for most of a year.  And the suspension.

       On the other hand, no one save for TA suffered more from the bitter pill Martin and Coleman force-fed the program.  Some have said that if the Horton suspension was used as precedent, Michigan wouldn't have the players to field a football team, and they may not be wrong.

     Novak had an aneurism of leadership, but Horton beat some really stacked(nba stacked) MSU teams by himself.  And the 39 he dropped on Dee Brown might be the most spectacular performance I have witnessed in Crisler Arena.

     HIs career does have kind of a "What if Trey Burke had gone to PSU" feel to it, but I dont think that should keep him out.  If you plan on putting Brandon Graham in on the football side, this is a no-brainer.


May 14th, 2012 at 7:43 PM ^

I am wondering how many of the Novak supporting yet Horton non-supporters were actually around as Michigan fans when Horton was playing. The idea that Novak or whoever led Michigan out of the dark is pretty far off base. That Horton was able to keep us somewhat relevant at the time we were feeling the worst of the Fab 5 blowback is a huge testament to him. He was surrounded by low caliber talent, and willed us to win some tough games.

Also, the numbers don't lie. Take a look at the top ten leaders in Michigan PG history and see how often Horton's name comes up. Do it based on impact and context or do it on numbers, but any way you look at it, Horton tops the BB list in MGoBlog times. Until Trey Burke takes his place, of course . . .