For those who love the Hall of Fame and want to track all these posts, click here or right next to the timestamp where it says "Hall of Fame".
This post's matchups: Geoff Macarthur vs Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Jack Clark vs Lavelle Hawkins
The bottom half of the Brick Muller bracket gets settled today; the top two matchups are in this post, the second two will be posted this afternoon. Polls for these matchups close next Friday, June 19 at midnight. The athlete matchups are above, the athlete descriptions and polls are after the jump. Please read, vote, and debate in the comments!
#3 Geoff Macarthur vs #14 Shareef Abdur-Rahim
They say it's better to be lucky than good. Well, "they" never met G-Mac. This guy comes out of nowhere to rewrite the Cal record book in 2003, catching 85 passes for 1,504 yards. He has five 150+ yard games and basically wins the Big Game by himself with the greatest stat line in Cal history: 16 catches/245 yards/2 TDs. Then, basking in the glow of All-Pac 10 and 2nd team All-America status and Cal's first bowl invitation in seven years, he fractures his right arm in a non-contact drill. No one touched him. Misses the Insight Bowl win over Virginia Tech.
Oh well, he comes into his senior year a pre-season All-America selection, and opposing defenses are ready. They feed him a steady diet of double teams, and Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around. Seven different receivers have at least 14 catches on the season, and G-Mac's numbers fall to 57 catches for 862 yards and 7 touchdowns. Plus he plays with a strained oblique muscle for most of the season.
You can read the rest, but most of us know how that story ends. Our commenters can attest to how damned good he became.
JoshinPortland: I remember being blown away by his improvement toward the end of his career. The guy caught nearly everything thrown in his direction regardless of coverage.
Norcalnick: I mostly remember the big game when he caught like 15 balls or something absurd like that. I just started yelling at Stanford: "WE’RE THROWING TO GEOFF AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!"
I loved that Big Game.
Abdur-Rahim later attended college at the University of California, Berkeley, where he maintained a GPA of 3.5. At California, he averaged 21.1 points per game (ppg) and 8.4 rebounds per game (rpg) in 28 games. He was the first freshman in Pac-10 history to win Conference Player of the Year honors, and was named Third Team All-America by the Associated Press. Abdur-Rahim also set single-season freshman records for points, scoring average, field goals, and free throws.
I’m just going to talk about the player. Back in 1996, 6’10 225 power fowards who could handle the rock, and play a tall 3 weren’t common. Thus "THE FUTURE" (as he was nicknamed) arrived at Cal. As the school’s highest profile recruit since Kidd (and until . . .well me), the first time we saw Shareef (from Atlanta) it was the McDonald’s All America Game. We were really excited getting the #3 prospect in the country . . .until the skinny guy who matched against him blocked his shot about 10 times and basically destroyed in the All Star Game. (That guy turned out to be pretty good himself)
No matter, when Shareef got to Cal – he made an immediate impact. Team with JUCO transfer Ed Gray, along with Jelani Gardner (ugh) and Randy Duck and Tony Gonzalez, ’Reef was able to garner Pac 10 POY honors, along with dropping in over 22 ppg (is that right?)
But more than that, I remember the effortless scoring. Earlier I talked about "The Future" and ‘Reef was . . . a silky smooth 6’9" power foward who could shoot it all the way out to 3 point range, destroy people on the block with a series of spin moves, and half hooks or face up and take defenders off the dribble, Shareef had the smoothest and most polished offensive game of any freshman ever at Cal.
Additionally, with the middle part of the season falling during the holy month of Ramadan, Shareef was destroying defenders in the paint all the whilein the middle of fasts and spirtual concentration.
The thought of Kelvin Cato blocking anything, much less basketballs, is a wild concept. For the only Cal highlights I could find of him, here's NBA draft coverage of Shareef, with Hubie Brown breaking down his game (and you really can't get get enough of Hubie breaking down your game).
#6 Jack Clark vs #11 Lavelle Hawkins
Carp has nothing but great things to say about his coach. Here's his writeup.
Coach Clark, a Cal rugby alum himself, deserves to be up there on the list of integral people associated with Cal. He has guided Cal rugby to 19 national titles since he took over in 1981. He led Cal to an unprecedented 115 game winning streak.
Winning was not necessarily the aim. Rather, it was a by-product of excellent preparation, attention to detail, dedication, and perservearance. He teaches his players to be thoughtful, selfless, and responsible adults. Clark is quick to point out that Cal rugby is completely self-sufficient and is comprised of non-scholarship athletes who earn their keep on and off the pitch.
After all, Clark is accustomed to overcoming incredible odds:The following month Clark attended a party at the house of an acquaintance in San Francisco and went outside to help break up an altercation. He ended up squared off against a man with a 9-mm Magnum. The assailant, who was under the influence of PCP, fired at Clark, hitting him four times. One bullet shattered his left femur, another the left fibula. At San Francisco General Hospital, heavily sedated and suffering significant nerve damage in the leg, Clark was confronted with the possibility of amputation. One night, while drifting in and out of consciousness, he awoke to a lecture on prosthetic limbs from a hospital counselor. "I called up one of my mates," Clark recalls, "and said, ‘I need you to get down here, and whatever you do, don’t let them take my leg.’"
Clark hung on, enduring a 45-day stay at the hospital and then more than a year of physical therapy. Eighteen months after the shooting he ran a 10K. "When something like that happens," he says, "you’re either going to be a victim or you’re not."
"We do a lot of pullups because they’re great for grip strength" said Coach Clark. Picture this: if you’re lifting your opponents up into the air by gripping onto their shorts – be it in a scrum, a ruck, or a maul – you have to rely on your gripping, pulling and hoisting muscles.
For example, rather than his team do bench press excercises, he has them do pullups:
On top of this, Clark volunteered to coach the USMC rugby team in the offseason.
To honor his efforts, the marines presented Clark with this American flag (above) that was flown over Camp Ripper in Iraq on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. It is one of his proudest possessions.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Clark on Stanfurd refusing to play Cal in rugby:"We lose to Stanford in many sports, but if you want to make a Cal team quit, bring a weapon."
2007 sucked. Everyone knows that. Team morale was frighteningly low. During the 6 game period known as the Callapse, it seemed like no one was showing up on a consistent basis. There are 2 main exceptions: Justin Forsett and Lavelle Hawkins. We had a much ballyhooed WR corp that year, being referred to by some as the best top 3 group in the nation. Lavelle Hawkins was definitely not the most talented. Yet he was easily the most dependable. Every single game Hawk did his job. Didn’t have particularly gaudy stats, but he averaged 6 catches a game during that stretch and I know I felt confident that he was going to have at least a solid game every time out. I appreciate Hawk for actually being consistent during that stretch when it seemed that no one else was (sadly, that team proved that bad morale and inconsistency are contagious, as witnessed by the drops. You know which ones I’m talking about). Hawk was one of the few bright spots on that team. He was, without question, the best receiver that year. Thanks Hawk.
Also his TD catch against USC is one of the most incredible catches I have ever seen. He literally flew. His nickname is Hawk for a reason.