This season's team is vintage Dunbar, perhaps as good as the legendary '83

January 22, 1991|By Sam Davis

It figured to be a long, long time before anyone dared compare another local high school team to Dunbar's 1983 national championship squad that went 31-0, produced three National Basketball Association players and has been called the greatest high school team ever.

But, eight years later, Dunbar's 1991 edition, with four potential All-Americans, is being compared to that team. The Poets (15-1) have rolled over most of their opponents and moved to No. 3 in the country in The Associated Press poll while holding the area's No. 1 ranking all season.

"They are awesome," said Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore after watching the Poets dismantle a solid Walbrook team, 91-55, earlier this month. "They pass well, shoot the ball well, have nice size. Other than Muggsy [Bogues, the 1983 point guard], they would be a better team. I think they have more weapons. They can go seven or eight players deep."

"They're better than that team with Bogues," said Cardinal Gibbons assistant coach Mike Dahlem after watching the Poets rout Calvert Hall, 105-41, last week.

Like the 1983 team, this season's Poets have been overpowering against lesser opponents and held their own against nationally ranked competition. Friday, the Poets travel to Southern-Baltimore, the area's No. 2 team, for what may be their toughest test of the season.

Dunbar's lone loss was to then-No. 1 ranked St. Anthony's of Jersey City, N.J., 66-65, in New Jersey on Dec. 15. A week later, the Poets avenged that loss with a 60-54 win over St. Anthony's in Washington. The Poets also have beaten nationally ranked Dunbar of Washington three times.

Overall, Dunbar's well-balanced offense is averaging 84.8 points and its smothering, full-court defense has helped limit opponents to 58.6 points a game. The Poets have been even better offensively against five local opponents, averaging 106.8 points and allowing 56.8.

The 1983 team featured a starting lineup of Bogues, Reggie Williams, Keith James, Mike Brown and Tim Dawson. Reggie Lewis was the sixth man. All six earned scholarships to Division I schools. Williams (Denver Nuggets), Bogues (Charlotte Hornets) and Lewis (Boston Celtics) are in the NBA.

Howard Garfinkel, who runs the popular Five Star summer basketball camps, saw and worked with members of the 1983 team, as well as its coach, Bob Wade, at his summer camp. Although he has not seen this year's team, he has worked with four of the players and coach Pete Pompey.

"I know the personnel, and I know the coach. Nothing would surprise me," he said. "They are magnificent players. They've got four superstars and one nice player, and the coach has improved a lot."

The four players drawing rave reviews are junior center Donta Bright, junior guard Michael Lloyd, senior guard Terrance Alexander and sophomore forward Keith Booth.

All received honorable mention in Street & Smith's high school basketball preview. Dunbar's fifth starter is senior forward Kevin Washington, a football standout who fits in perfectly as the defensive specialist and rebounder.

Lloyd, a 6-foot-2 point guard, leads the team with an 18.6-point average and averages 10.6 assists. Alexander, 6-3, averages 17.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Booth, 6-4, averages 14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Bright, 6-5, averages 14.6 points and 9.3 rebounds.

"Time will tell. The jury is still out on how good they are," said Pompey, who was coaching at Edmondson in 1983. "You are talking about a heck of a comparison with a heck of a basketball team. They were just so deep. We're deep also, but I don't know if we are as deep and as talented."

This season's players, most of whom were in elementary school in 1983, have heard the talk about the 1983 team but say it is difficult to make the comparison.

"You can't compare our team to them, but we are up in that range," said Lloyd.

Alexander said: "The jury is still out. You can't make a comparison with a team like that with Reggie Williams and Reggie Lewis and Muggsy Bogues. Maybe in the future if a couple of us make it to the NBA."

In addition to Lewis, the 1983 reserves also included Herman Harried and Eric Green. Harried played four years at Syracuse, and Green, who also was a football standout, went on to star as a quarterback at James Madison.

This year's team has not shown the strong bench scoring that the 1983 team did. But this year's bench has made its contribution. Marvin Gross, a 6-4 senior forward, gives the Poets defense and rebounding, and guards Diego Jones, a senior, and Paul Banks, a junior, contribute ball-handling, defense and some scoring.

"That team [1983] might have had more depth," said Garfinkel. "After those guys graduated, they still were great. I don't know if this team has that kind of depth. The starting five against the starting five would be a hell of a game if you could turn back the clock. I'd like to see it."

*Where they went

Here are the starters and top reserves from Dunbar's 1983 national championship team, along with the colleges they attended and their current National Basketball Association teams:

Player.. .. .. .. College.. .. .. .. NBA team

Tyrone Bogues.. .. Wake Forest.. .. . Charlotte Hornets

Keith James.. .. .. South Carolina

.. .. .. .. .. .. . UNLV

Tim Dawson.. .. .. Miami, Fla.

Mike Brown.. .. .. .Syracuse

.. .. .. .. .. .. ..Clemson

Reggie Williams.. ..Georgetown.. .. .. Denver Nuggets

Reggie Lewis.. .. ..Northeastern.. .. .Boston Celtics

Herman Harried.. .. Syracuse

Eric Green.. .. .. James Madison*

* - Green played football at James Madison

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