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Christian Laettner vs. Danny Manning- One on One- THE FINAL SCORE

Posted by patmixon on March 5, 2010

In my article yesterday, I laid out the 1st Battle of Winner’s Outs March Madness between our College Legends. Duke’s Christian Laettner versus Kansas’ Danny Manning.  Let’s settle this once and for all.  Please remember, this is not a team matchup.  I’ll remind everyone of the Game Rules from my Winner’s Outs site.

Games Rules

Game is to 11 points by 1’s.  Three pointers count for 2 points.  Everything must be cleared to above the top of the key on change of possession.  Players call their own fouls and get the ball back.  Winner’s Outs.

Scouting Report
Our Scouting Report on both players will address how they would matchup in a one on one game.  Let’s start with Laettner.
Christian Laettner is arguably one of the best college players to ever lace them up.  I say this not as an individual talent but what he accomplished during his year’s at Duke, all in a team concept.  This guy was a winner.  I doubt many would debate this point.  As I mentioned yesterday, Laettner had an amazing supporting cast, if it is even fair to all Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley and company supporters.  But Laettner was the go to guy on that team.  Need I say more than the shot he hit to knock out Kentucky?  Laettner was a force in college.  A big man who could rebound, bang inside but had touch and range.  He might not have been the quickest at that 4 or 5 spot, but he moved so well without the ball, he could be counted on to score.  His defense was solid, at least in the team scheme and he played man D almost entirely.  But, one on one, against equal talent, he struggled.  I point out his mediocre NBA career.  It wasn’t that he couldn’t play, he just couldn’t dominate like in college in the NBA one on one run league.  He had a good NBA career but proved, at least to me, that he couldn’t really create his own shot against equal talent. Keep this significant point in mind when we get to the one on one matchup with Manning.

Danny Manning defined putting a team on his back. Literally. He carried his Kansas team to the NCAA title.  Sure, he had some solid teammates but he was the man.  Really.  The man among boys, on his team and against his opponents.  He was a force inside, had a solid post up game but his real skills were his face-up game.  He was so big compared to his opponents and he was fast.  He could go left or right and had touch.  He was the perfect balance between force and finesse.  And, he could hit a mid-range jumper.  His defense was stellar and he altered and blocked many shots.  He could also lock down his opponent one on one and hardly ever needed help.  

The Matchup

Laettner needs to have outs to start the game.  Let’s give him that.  He’ll be able to score on Manning, but only because he could really shoot.  Laettner would have real trouble taking anything to the cup on Manning, because the Jayhawk was simply too quick compared to Laettner.  In our one on one matchup. Laettner won’t have any screens or rubs to come off of. His NBA career is evidence that he wouldn’t be the best in creating his own shot. Laettner would score on Manning from outside, some fake drives and quick pull ups. He might also get some points on quick rebounds from misses. He did have a strong post game and one would think he would be able to score on Manning inside. I think he would but the issue is that Laettner would struggle with backing down Manning. There isn’t enough weight difference for Laettner to do a Shaq and simply back Manning down. If it was Grant Hill or Hurley, then sure, Laettner would face up and simply back down and score. But Manning was a different beast. No way Laettner backs him down. And, Laettner really isn’t going to do much in the face up game. This might be hard for Duke fans to take and I’m sure you won’t agree, but really, think about it. Laettner taking the ball at the top of the key, with Manning in his defense stance, Laettner is not going to get to the rim. He’s going to move east and west and might hit a jumper or two. That’ it. So, Laettner is all outside and maybe some trickery in the mid-range area.
Manning, he’s a different story. The minute Laettner misses, Manning’s game is on. One on one is where he excelled. He was too big for smaller players and too fast for the bigs. Laettner doesn’t have the same foot speed. And, remember, Manning could hit mid-range. He doesn’t have the long range Laettner had but that doesn’t matter in this one on one game. Manning could go left or right and if he doesn’t blow by Laettner every time, he gets down into the paint and would get good enough position, he could then post up and go to work. He had a strong post up game and unlike Laettner, who I feel wouldn’t be able to dribble into post up position on Manning, it is not the same for the Jayhawk. Once Manning established a face up and dribble game, left or right, and getting into the paint and then some post up work, Manning’s 12 to 15 foot jumper would open up for him against Laettner. The only thing would be if he settled for the outside. If Manning doesn’t settle and instead only takes maybe 2 or 3 outside shots, Laettner doesn’t stand a chance.
So, as I said, Laettner gets outs and maybe hits 2 or 3 shots until he misses. That’s when Manning goes to work and until Manning settles once too many times on an outside jumper, thus turning the ball back over, he score in bunches.
In my opinion, Manning takes this matchup easily.
Final Score: Manning- 11; Laettner- 4

Let the Debate Begin!! 

Please leave me your comments and thoughts.  

Be sure to see my Sports Writing page at


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