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CGB Hall Of Fame Round Of 32: Leon Powe v. Mike Pawlawski


The next matchup in the California Golden Blogs Hall Of Fame is Leon Powe v. Mike Pawlawski. This should be a good matchup, people. For each athlete, you can vote in the poll; it closes a week from today at midnight. After the jump, you can read the athlete profiles written up by our commenters, and discuss in the comments your memories of each athlete and which one deserves to move on. (Check out the full bracket here. To check out the original nomination thread, click here. For those who want to track the CGB Hall of Fame posts exclusively, click here or right next to the timestamp above where it says "Hall of Fame".)

#2 Leon Powe



Not many Cal fans can find a bad word to say about Leon. ragnarok has this classic story from the old blogsome of Powe's greatest performance in gold & blue:

Already demanding notice after setting a tournament record with 20 rebounds in avictory over USC the previous night, Leon Powe had what is probably his signature game at Cal during the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament. Seventh-seeded Oregon was fighting for its season; with a 15-17 record, the Ducks knew there would be no postseason for them if they didn’t win the Tournament. Still, they had managed to beat hapless Washington State and then upset second-seeded Washington the next night, and early on, it looked like they might pull off their improbable run to the title game, sprinting out to a 32-16 lead in the first half. Then they ran into Leon Powe.

Of course, it took a team effort from the Bears to battle back from a 16-point deficit, including trailing by 7 with less than 3 minutes to go, but it often seemed that most of that team effort involved feeding Powe in the low post over and over and over again. And why wouldn’t they? The man was virtually unstoppable that night, shooting 14 of 17 from the floor and 13 of 18 from the line. You don’t really need an offense when you have Leon Powe, but the Bears did need every one of his tournament-record 41 points (and two overtimes) to hold off the Ducks in a game that had me (alone at home) screaming at my television and nearly convinced me to drive down to LA for the final. These Bears should have been upset, but Powe put them up on his back and barreled them into the final virtually singlehandedly.

As great as that performance is, we love Leon for a lot more than his put back dunks or even being the Show in the NBA Finals. His story from rags to riches would have left Jamal Malik reeling and Latika swooning. Leon Powe is where amazing happens.

#7 Mike Pawlawski



The old-timers remember him and the team he led quite fondly, perhaps in the same way the younger minds remember Rodgers and 2004.

LeonPowe: Quarterback for the 1991 Citrus Bowl Championship teams. Coming out of high school he had no arm strength, no accuracy and was rated by one recruiting service as "the worst recruit in the Pac-10"

Damned if he didn’t will and win his way to becoming the Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 1991. And this was with a UW team that won the National Championship. I really dislike attributing stuff like "intangibles" and "leadership" – because good players usually prove themselves in some measurable way. Mike really didn’t – he had okay stats and won a lot. But it was the little things. Like when he scored on a keeper and knocked out the opposing linebacker. Like when he played special teams to get on the field. Like when he took an offense full of talent (Russ, Brian Treggs, Mike Caldwell, Greg Zomalt, Lindsay Chapman) and molded them in his image – they became a cocky, loud-mouthed, trashtalking offense that WON. Back-to-back Bowl Games (huge for Cal at the time).

In my freshman year after Pawlawski had graduated a lot of fans and students said (not jokingly either) that they should bring Pawlawski back . . .to coach the linebackers.

Ohio Bear: Until the 2004 team came along, the 1991 team was the best of my Cal fandom. And I think the 1991 team was better overall than the 2006 team.

California Pete: I think the 1991 team would have a great chance against the 2004 team, although the 91ers’ penchant for personal fouls probably would do them in. Both teams were Rose Bowl worthy—far better than the teams sent most recently by the likes of WSU and Stanford—but both unfortunately shared the conference with two of the all-time greats: UW 1991 and USC 2004.

He is dealing with neck issues in retirement, but many of us have seen him broadcast a Cal game, several this past season, and he seems to be in generally good spirits.

And let's put ourselves in good spirits with some highlights of that 1990 team!