Tournament MVPs are not always stars

Wolfpack's Worsley scored 57 points in 1965 event

Staff WriterMarch 13, 2009 

  • Players who won the ACC Tournament MVP in a year when they did not make first or second-team All-Conference.

    1960: Doug Kistler, Duke

    1965: Larry Worsley, N.C. State

    1971: Lee Dedmon, UNC (co-MVP).

    1975: Phil Ford, UNC

    1977: John Kuester, UNC

    1979: Dudley Bradley, UNC

    1981: Sam Perkins, UNC

    1984: Len Bias, Maryland

    1987: Vinny Del Negro, N.C. State.

    1989: J.R. Reid, UNC

    1993: James Forrest, Georgia Tech

    1994: Jerry Stackhouse, UNC

    1997: Shammond Williams, UNC

    2000: Jason Williams, Duke

    2003: Daniel Ewing, Duke

    2004: John Gilchrist, Maryland

Come tournament time, on college basketball's biggest stages, star players often produce their finest performances.

But once in a while, a less heralded starter or reserve seizes the spotlight.

Consider Larry Worsley, a sub who sparked N.C. State to the 1965 ACC Tournament title and won the Everett Case Most Valuable Player award.

According to conference records, Worsley is the only non-starter in the league's 56-year history to capture the MVP honor.

But there have been others who didn't make first or second-team All-ACC that also turned into tournament heroes.

Duke's Doug Kistler (1960), and UNC's John Kuester (1977) and Dudley Bradley (1979) were among those who produced March magic in the ACC Tournament. More recently, N.C. State's Vinny Del Negro (1987) and Georgia Tech's James Forrest (1993) did the same. Maryland guard John Gilchrist was another who raised his game in the postseason. A third-team all-league selection, Gilchrist played like an All-America in the 2004 tournament, scoring 66 points that weekend -- including 26 in the championship-game victory over Duke.

But none came bolting out of the background like Worsley, who soared overnight, hitting 23 of 39 shots and scoring 57 points -- including 30 in the championship game victory over top-seeded Duke.

"I can't explain it other than I had confidence,'' said Worsley, who averaged 7.6 points that season. "It seems everything went in for me. Your adrenaline gets flowing in the ACC Tournament."

After scoring 12 points against Virginia and 15 against Maryland, the long-range Pack shooter bedeviled Duke by making 14 of 19 shots. He still has a tape of the game, given to him by a Blue Devils fan.

Before Worsley, there was Kistler and Vic Bubas' first Duke squad, which won the tournament after a mediocre 7-7 ACC regular-season record.

A solid player all year, Kistler lifted his scoring average to 17.0 in the tournament -- almost five points above his season mark of 12.3 -- and also gathered nine rebounds per game.

Then there was Phil Ford, a freshman standout in '75 who didn't make all-conference that season. Yet in the league tournament, Carolina's precocious point guard averaged 26 points and 3.3 assists, ending the two-year reign of a David Thompson-led N.C. State and launching his own All-America career.

In 1987, No. 6 seed N.C. State needed a spark, and Del Negro provided it, averaging 14 points and 7.7 rebounds to lead the Pack to its last ACC title.

When Georgia Tech won in '93, opponents got lost in the "Forrest." Left off the first, second and third All-ACC teams despite averaging 19.7 points, James Forrest seemed to say "look again" by scoring 27, 26, and 27 points on consecutive nights.

Such memorable moments are made in March.

"I bump into people all the time who say they remember [1965]," said Worsley, 65, one of yesterday's heroes.

aj.carr@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8948

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