Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim caused a little bit of a stir after Syracuse’s blowout win against Providence in which Friar senior Vincent Council broke Sherman Douglas’ Big East record for assists.
When asked about Council setting the new mark Boeheim was less than effusive in his praise, “Sherman only played three years. His freshman year, he had somebody named Washington ahead of him so he didn’t get to play that year. I don’t think anybody would break his record in three years.”
In reality, Council didn’t have an additional season’s worth of games to break the record. Douglas got to his 426 assists in 61 career Big East games (6.98 per game). Council is now at 431 through 67 games (6.43). And while Council played big minutes his freshman year, the ball wasn’t handed to him from Day 1. He started six of Providence’s Big East games that year, and when he started he played alongside a long-time starter at point guard in fifth year senior Sharaud Curry.
After watching Council’s teammates struggle to finish so many of his looks near the rim Wednesday night it’s fair to wonder how quickly he might have gotten to the record had he played with three interior lottery picks as Douglas did (Derrick Coleman was the top pick in 1990, Billy Owens went 3rd in ’91 and Rony Seikaly 9th in 1988).
Don’t be mistaken, there’s no comparing the careers of Council and Douglas, as the latter is one of the truly iconic performers in conference history, but cherry picking can go both ways.
Additional Assist Record Fun Facts:
1. When Douglas set the NCAA assist record in 1989 he passed a name very familiar to Providence fans – associate head coach Andre Lafleur. Lafleur held the record for nearly two years, as he dished out 894 assists in 128 career games at Northeastern.
Douglas finished with 960 in 138 games.
Another local assistant coach has held the record for 20 years now. Rhode Island assistant, and former Duke point guard, Bobby Hurley finished his career in 1993 with 1,076 in 140 games.
2. It would be awfully difficult for any point guard to actually break 426 assists in just three years. That man would have to average roughly eight assists per game in an 18 game season for three years.
Former St. John’s lead guard Omar Cook might have had a chance had he stayed in college beyond his freshman year. He averaged 8.4 assists in Big East play as a freshman.
There has only been one player in conference history other than Omar Cook who has averaged over 8 assists per game – Marcus Williams of Connecticut. Williams averaged 8.1 assists per game, but played in just 34 games.
Douglas ranks second in career assists per game (the conference has him at 7.0), followed closely by another familiar face on the Friar bench, God Shammgod, who averaged 6.9 assists in 35 Big East games.
Council is averaging 7.6 assists in Big East games this year.