Friar Basketball

Readers Inquire: Douthit over Herb?

Since posting my all-decade team there hasn’t been much debate from fans, other than those who wrote to me asking how I could put Marcus Douthit on the 1st team ahead of Herb Hill.

On the surface, Hill has better numbers, with a majority of them coming in a monster 19-8 senior season that Douthit couldn’t touch offensively.  I began thinking I had short-changed Herb when I looked at their career stats:

Hill: 9.7 ppg, 5.2 rebounds, 189 blocks

Douthit: 5.9 ppg, 4.6 rebounds, 295 blocks


It’s tough to argue against the numbers, but I’m sticking with Douthit after digging deeper.  Here’s why:

The case for Marcus Douthit:

The buzz coming out of Providence right now is all about defense.  Can Keno coach it?  Does he instill the importance of it in practice?  Is he content with outscoring teams?  Doesn’t he understand that you win with defense?

There are legitimate concerns about the Friars ability to make stops, which inevitably leads to losses.  Everyone is in agreement there, yet most would rather have another Herbert Hill than they would another Marcus Douthit.

Why does Douthit get the nod here?  Defense and winning.


  • Douthit was one of only three Friars to play in two NCAA tournaments in the decade (Chris Anrin, Sheiku Kabba)
  • His teams were 25 games over .500, while Hill was 10 games over.  Hill’s record is boosted by a 20-9 freshman season in which he only took 6 shots all season and averaged .7 rebounds per game in 11 games played.  Take that season away and he’s sporting a sub-500 record.
  • The year after Douthit left Providence, Hill’s third year on campus, the Friars went from a 20 win NCAA team to 14-17 with a returning senior All American.
  • Douthit played on two teams that won 11 Big East games (a Providence record).
  • Starting with the 2003 ‘things just changed here because we’re going all defense and no Laksa’ St. John’s win, Douthit and Providence went 28-12 for the remainder of his career, as the 2nd best player on the team.


  • Over 100 more blocks over the course of his career than Hill and 2nd all-time at Providence
  • Points per game against in Douthit’s four years at Providence: 66.1, 69.7, 67.6, 64.4
  • Points per game against the year after Douthit left: 72.3 (last in the Big East)
  • Points per game against in Herb Hill’s last three years at PC: 72.3, 74.7, 71.7 (good for last in BE, 14th, and 14th).

64 ppg against in 2003-04 and you can make the argument that Douthit was the only stopper among the group.  The slow footed Donnie McGrath and defensively pedestrian Sheiku Kabba were not exposed as the Friars filtered everything into Douthit.  Once Douthit was taken out of the equation Welsh’s 2-3 zone never recovered, and really, never did he.  They gave up 8 more points per game the following season and tumbled to 14-17, with the only other losses being a defensively erratic Rob Sanders, Chris Anrin, Maris Laksa, and Kabba.  Douthit was the X-factor.

Perhaps Douthit gets the nod today because the Friars, as currently constituted, will be able to score with anyone and the missing piece seems to be that guy who they can filter the action to.  The guy who made Donnie McGrath and Sheiku Kabba non-liabilities on the floor has me wondering how this edition of the Friars would look with a great presence defending the rim.

Would a 19-8 season from Herb Hill win this team a few more games?  Of course. They still lack an efficient scoring presence who makes consistently good decisions and has a go to move, like Herb’s hook shot, that seemed to never miss.

Does it make them a tournament team?  I’m not so sure.  But a kid who ranked in the top 10 nationally in blocked shots, as Douthit did in his junior and senior seasons, on a team that scores 84 points per game and we’d have a legitimate discussion.

In Douthit’s case, his impact will never be fully explained in a media guide or stat book.  What kind of damage would Deron Williams, Dee Brown, and Luther Head have done to the Friars had they met a year after Douthit graduated?  Would Williams and Brown have ever combined to shoot 3-17 against any edition of the Friars post-Douthit?

Tim Welsh made the tournament twice in ten years on the heels of one dominant defender and another very good one.  Over the past decade there was John Linehan, Marcus Douthit, and then everyone else.  Providence rarely struggled to score over the past decade, but they did struggle to win.  Defense wins ball games.

On defense and body of work over four years, Douthit gets the nod.