My favorite type of basketball players are the blue-collar, hustle guys who sacrifice the glamor and their bodies for the betterment of the team. These players are the unsung heroes of championship teams. Though Mr.Big Shot, Chauncey Billups, was the NBA Finals MVP in the Detroit Pistons great upset against the last Shaq-Kobe Lakers squad ever, it was Defensive Player of the year Ben Wallace’s post presence which changed the dynamic of the series. At only 6-8, Wallace was forced to guard 7-2 300-plus pound Shaquille O’Neal. Wallace battled with great tenacity and won the match up and his first and only championship ring that season . Wallace, a former DII collegiate basketball player, began his NBA career as an undrafted free agent, and used his giant heart and limitless energy to inevitably earn himself a 4-year 60 million dollar contract from the Chicago Bulls. While a lot of people felt it was an inflated contract, due to the weak free agent market, I felt he earned every penny of that contract!
In terms of heart, passion , hustle, tenacity, energy and intangibles the UCSC men’s basketball has their own version of Ben Wallace. Though he is guard and only 5’10, UCSC men’s basketball player Sam Allen plays with the exact same passion as Ben Wallace, that has helped him excel, from a UCSC pickup court legend to fan-favorite 6th man for the UCSC men’s basketball team. Though his stats are not overwhelming, its what he does that doesn’t show up in that stat sheet that makes him so adored. His hustle and his energy is quite infectious; he sets screens, plays stingy defense, takes charges, dives for loose balls, boxes out on rebounds, and does every other possible little thing you can imagine to help the slugs win. This type of play, inspires his teammates to go all out. Coach Johnson puts Allen in the game help give the slugs momentum and change the dynamic of the game when they are playing a bit sluggish (no pun intended) . Sam Allen has that game-changing ability, with his glue-guy mentality. He brings the team together and plays extremely stingy defense that leads to fast-break opportunities that allow his teammates to score easily. Despite playing less than 14 minutes a night, Allen was second on the team in assists and tied for second on the team with steals. Allen thrives on the defensive-end of the floor, with his great lateral quickness, high basketball IQ, long arms, quick hands, physical play and tenacious attitude. Allen is a player who will try to get in the head of his opponent in attempt to frustrate them, which has done successfully many a time. Also known for being a stupendous dime-dropper who draws doubles teams and makes tremendous no-look passes to get his teammates easy buckets. The definition of a basketball player you love to play with and hate to play against.
The 2010-2011 season was Allen’s first season of collegiate basketball. A junior in his third year at UCSC, Allen had earned himself a ton of clout and rep in the UCSC street ball circuit. He decided to try out for the UCSC basketball team and Coach Gordie Johnson and James Paige, with their advanced scouting ability noticed his talent right away. From the get go, Allen earned himself a spot on the roster and time on the floor. Loved by his coaches, teammates and fans, Allen has become an embodiment of UC Santa Cruz : Overlooked, but full of intelligence, heart, tenacity, intangible ability, passion and hustle. Look for Sam Allen to have a breakout season in 2011-2012, with the departure of starting guards Ryan Matsuoaka and Darrin Lew, as well as a breakout performance in the playoffs. Allen thrives in close games and loves to showcase his clutch ability; he has “ice-water” in his veins and loves making plays for himself and teammates in the last seconds of games. Make sure you come out and see Sam Allen and the UCSC men’s basketball team’s last games of 2010-2011 season, in their playoff match-ups on Friday February 25th and Saturday February 26th. Both games are at 7pm and will be at the beautiful UCSC College 8 West Field-House. For more information log onto ww.golsugs.com. The KZSC sports department will be broadcasting the UCSC men’s basketball playoff game on Friday February 25th, at 7PM, so keep your radios close!