We at dwhoops.com believe that the jersey of Georgia Schweitzer deserved to be retired when her stellar playing career ended after the 2001 season. We believe this highest honor is warranted given the combination of her statistics, impact on the program, and the way her team won. Thus we are "retiring" her number 23 here at DWHoops, prominently honoring her until such time that her jersey actually is retired by Duke University.
The question of what factors go into determining how a number is retired at Duke used to be delightfully vague--and in our opinion, appropriately so. Unfortunately, when the question of Georgia's jersey being retired arose, the administration presented the new criterion that for a player to be so honored that they must win a national player of the year award. This rule was communicated to the public when President Brodhead spoke at JJ Redick's jersey retirement -he noted that in order for a jersey to be retired, a player must win national player of the year and must graduate. Prior to that moment, there had been no officially issued criteria for what was explicitly required for a jersey to be retired. Indeed, if these current criteria were to be applied now, retroactively, then the jerseys of Bobby Hurley and Jeff Mullins would have to come down. Moreover, if they hadn't added in a "or win national defensive player of the year" kicker, we'd have to take down the jerseys of Shelden Williams & Grant Hill as well.
The problem with relying on a system that relies solely on national voters to determine whether or not players deserve this ultimate honor is that this can't possibly take into account many other factors--both tangible and intangible--that go into evaluating a player's worthiness. Indeed, we have always thought that the characteristics of a player deemed as worthy of jersey retirement were overdetermined. In other words, no single factor should lead to this conclusion, but rather an aggregate of stats, honors, the success of the team, character and other intangibles should be applied.
Let's look at each factor in turn. Statistics are a tangible measure of what impact a player has made. In particular, a player who has a significant impact in a number of different statistical categories is just as important as a player who is a dominant scorer (Grant Hill, for example). Such players often subsume their scoring for the good of the team, but this shows in other statistical categories like assists. Sometimes, a player who is absolutely dominant in one or two categories gains special notice: JJ Redick in scoring, Bobby Hurley in assists, Shelden Williams in blocks & rebounds. The fact that these players all played four years perhaps inflates their numbers over more talented players who left early is beside the point, since a player must graduate for one to even consider retiring their jersey.
Perhaps more important than individual numbers are the player's accomplishments as part of a team. How many games did they win? How many ACC regular season & tournament titles did they win? How many Final Fours did they go to, and did they win any national titles? How highly was the team ranked during their tenure?
Honors are certainly another important factor. All-ACC honors and ACC player of the year are certainly things to consider along with the various national honors. One thing to remember as far as the women's game is that until very recently, there were a very small number of awards. The Wooden and Naismith awards for women are recent developments, and national defensive player of the year only came about in the 2006-07 season.
It's the intangibles that separate worthy candidates from the truly worthy. Here, one must consider such factors as leadership, character, academic excellence, and dependability. It would also include hitting multiple game-winning shots or otherwise taking over key games. On a larger scale, what kind of impact did the player have on the program? Did this player do things on an individual and/or team level that had never been seen before?
Back in 2001, there was an article in the Chronicle describing the debate about retiring Georgia Schweitzer?s #23 jersey. Athletic director Joe Alleva said "...she just doesn't stack up. There are 12 or 13 guys who have done what Georgia has done and their jerseys haven't been retired." Here's why we respectfully beg to differ, as a Cameron Crazy or two might say.
Let's examine the last three men's players whose jerseys were so deservedly retired before Georgia. We'd like to emphasize that we think retiring the jerseys of Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill and Shane Battier was absolutely the right decision, but we also hope to show that Georgia's accomplishments are comparable. Especially since she has a lot in common with Hill and Battier's numbers and primary quality, that being versatility.
Let's look first at overall statistics. Where does this player stack up compared to the all-time greats in the program? It must be noted that Duke's women's program was only 26 years old when Georgia graduated and had had a long history of losing, but it should also be noted that it was not devoid of high-quality players. Duke had 5 first team All-ACC performers prior to Georgia and 8 second team performers, not counting repeats. Prior to 2001, Duke had 6 players on the ACC all-freshmen team, 2 ACC rookies of the year, 1 ACC player of the year, 3 NCAA All-Regional performers, 2 All-Final Four players, 4 District 2 Kodak All-Americas, an AP 3rd team All-America and 1 Kodak All-America.
The second measure is winning. Certainly, one's teammates are essential in this equation, and without great players like Michele Van Gorp, Nicole Erickson, Hilary Howard, Alana Beard and Peppi Browne, Georgia might not have been as successful. Of course, one can say the same about Shane--without Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, Jason Williams, etc, would he have won as many games? The same is certainly true of Hurley and Hill as well. So with that in mind, measuring the total number of wins in a career is important. Also of great importance is ACC regular season championships, ACC tournament championships, performance in the NCAA's, and individual awards & honors. League and national recognition is certainly an important measure, one that many schools use as the true acid test. It can be argued that the men's program already had the respect and attention of the media, which aids the school in getting recognition of its players, whereas the women's program had to fight for quite some time to get that same respect (not to mention a full complement of scholarships). But that's neither here nor there in this comparison, and one thing we don't want to do is establish different standards of recognition for the two programs.
(Obviously, Shane went on to pretty much sweep postseason honors, but his jersey was retired before he went on to win--this is a key factor.)
Before we look at Georgia's numbers, let's take a quick look at the honors and accomplishments above. Each player won at least 2 regular season titles, with Grant trumping Bobby and Shane trumping both. Only Grant & Shane won ACC player of the year. Only Shane was National player of the year. None reached the 2000 point mark that non-retired jersey wearers Mark Alarie, Gene Banks and Jim Spanarkel attained. Grant and Bobby only won one ACC tourney each, while Shane won two. All three were first-team All-America just once. Bear in mind that Shane had his number retired in-season, before he was named to any All-ACC or All-Conference lists, just like Grant and Bobby. In terms of all-time stats, Grant is top ten in four categories, Bobby three (including holding an NCAA record) and Shane three (not counting charges taken). Shane has won more and lost less than Grant and Bobby, but hasn't had the same degree of NCAA success. Shane's status as National Defensive Player of the Year and Academic All-America also come into play.
Looking at the total picture, these three players had a strong combination of national and league honors, 4 years of winning, success in the NCAA tournament, and a significant place in Duke's record books. The honors and winning varied slightly from player to player. Players like Trajan Langdon didn't win quite as much, nor did he have the same national impact or presence in the record book. Same goes with Chris Carrawell, Gene Banks and Jim Spanarkel, who have dominant numbers but also didn't win quite as much. (There's a STRONG case for their inclusion, but that's not a topic for DWHoops.) There are also a number of intangibles to consider, but I'll get to that after reviewing Georgia's accolades and accomplishments:
Overall, one can see that like the other players, she's in the top ten (the top 5, actually) in 4 different categories. Like Hurley, she leads one career category. Unlike any of them, she's won 2 ACC Player of the Year awards. She's had an NCAA career identical to Shane Battier up until her senior year and an overall winning percentage (then the best in women's history) not unlike Hill's and Hurley's. She won the same number of regular season titles as Hill and Hurley. (as a side note, her teams, with obvious considerable help from other players, were the first Duke teams to win regular season titles, advance past the second round of the tournament, go to the final four, and win the ACC tournament. Georgia was only the second player in Duke history to win ACC player of the year). By being named as a Kodak All-America (the most prestigious of postseason teams in women's basketball), she equaled Hill, Hurley & Battier in being named as a high-level All-America once in her career.
Let us now examine the intangibles. Despite having lower scoring totals than many players, their jerseys were retired because they elevated the program to greatness. It's the same thing for Johnny Dawkins--his overall winning percentage is not that great compared to the more recent players, but his scoring record, national player of the year honor, and helping to resurrect Duke's program earned him the retirement. Georgia helped do something similar. She did it in a supporting role her first two years, breaking out to send Duke to the Final Four in the program's biggest win ever (3-time defending national champion Tennessee)--very much the same way Grant, Bobby and Shane played in supporting roles their first two years. In her last two years, Georgia carried the program as a scorer in 2000 and a distributor in 2001 and became, along with Ro Parent, "the best leaders I've ever had", to quote Coach G. Georgia sacrificed her numbers in 2001 to bring along a team with 10 frosh and sophomores to maturity, and her iron will to win and calm demeanor brought Duke its best start to a season ever. Like Bobby, like Grant, like Shane, she took over teams depleted of its most talented players and made them winners thanks to her leadership. The ACC tournament was the ultimate display of her greatness, where she took over the scoring reins in the first two games when the team was too jittery to do it and nearly single-handedly carried Duke into the finals. The bottom line is that until Beard's era, no Blue Devil player had had as much postseason success as Georgia Schweitzer.
Lastly, her character as a student-athlete is at a level very similar to Shane Battier's. She's twice been elected to the ACC Honor Roll and is currently finishing up medical school. She was an iron woman in the lineup, returning to play a few days after an appendectomy in 1998, playing with a bad shoulder in 1999, playing on a broken foot in 2000 and playing through assorted injuries in 2001 without missing a single game. She is the very definition of toughness and hard work. She was a forward in 1998, an off guard in 1999 and a point guard in 2000. She led the ACC in three point shooting her last two years while at the same time being known for posting up down low. As a 6-0 guard, she was close to cracking the top 10 of Duke's blocked shot list. And for those wondering, these wins she racked up came in the #2 conference in the country, against programs like NC State (Final Four 1998),UNC (1994 National Champs), Virginia (an early 90's Final Four regular), and perennial powerhouse Maryland. Like the men's team, Duke faces extremely stiff competition. In fact, the women sent more teams to the NCAA tournament than the men during her tenure.
It took a player of Alana Beard's talent and accomplishments to finally break through that glass ceiling at Duke and have a woman's jersey hang in the rafters of Cameron. We submit that if the standards used to judge the women had been similarly applied to the men, there would be far fewer jerseys hanging in Cameron. So by the same token, we suggest that the bar for women in the program should not be set as impossibly high as Beard's great career numbers, or based on hit-or-miss national voting. The Hall of Honor was established in Cameron to honor "near-misses", but in the opinion of dwhoops.com, like Chris Moreland before her, Georgia Schweitzer is not a player to be relegated to the far end of the hallway. As such, we are permanently "retiring" and honoring her #23 on the website.
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