OU Running Diary

Posted by JCK | 4:24 PM | 1 comments »

People around here still talk about the 1990 game at Barnhill between the Hogs and the Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, Stacy Augmon UNLV juggernaut. In terms of anticipation that game certainly was huge. But in terms of actual importance to the program it didn't mean much. Nolan had already made a Final Four a year earlier and his program was looking set.

It was the UNLV game from the previous season, 1989, that was more of a seismic shift for the program, at least in my eyes.

The 1989 game was a loss also. We played in Vegas and UNLV was just as tough looking then. May-Day-Miller were sophomores and that team played without fear or conscious. They went into a building that at the time was as tough as any around and played a team that was head and shoulders above any other in the country. They went toe to toe with them the whole way. There was none of the "don't press on the road" BS. The legendarily fast paced Rebels were looking to slow US down.

In the end it was a loud loss, but it made clear to me that these guys could win ANY game.

There were several games like this for the team that eventually won the National Title in '94. The opener in '92-'93 against Penny Hardaway and Memphis was Corliss, Scotty and Corey's debut. Corliss got hurt in a sweet comeback win.

That team also won on the road at Arizona and at Missouri with Scotty proving that he could carry a team with cool efficiency even as a freshman. But the game that announced to the world and more importantly to the fan base that this collection of players could go full out against anyone was the Sweet Sixteen loss to eventual champ Carolina.

It was a beautiful game with shooting and steals and pressure and the steamroller that was UNC refusing to be put away and eventually prevailing. We knew then that with these players we would always be in it, that if you missed a game you might miss something really cool.

Tonight's game against #4 OU is a nice set up for that kind of game - a well played loss that leads to bigger things.

Now don't get me wrong, there have been many big wins in the post Nolan era. Florida at home 3 years ago and Tennessee on the road the following year come to mind. But I never had that FEELING for a team. The feeling that they could erupt and dominate at any moment by raining 3s and simply take you out in a 5 minute burst. We need to flex THAT muscle. The one that instills FEAR as much as respect. And this little team, if Stef continues as a solid jump shooter, has the makings of a very dangerous young team that is a year away from very big things.

It has been a beautiful December day in Northwest Arkansas, the sun bright and warming but no weird heat or or sweaty moisture to the air. It is dry and crisp, warm out in the open and chilly in the shadows.
I'm running lean, my companion of late jettisoned like cold french fries from a car window. There were a few insults and I was told I was a bad listener and a bunch of other stuff that I didn't really pay attention to. "Fat and self-absorbed" I think she said but I didn't have time to let words hurt me. I was busy busy with more important stuff like the return of Hawgball.

The lawn and sidewalk outside Bud Walton are actually covered with clots of people seeking tickets. One guy has his 3 year old boy holding up 2 fingers.

This ticket buying crew is a actually a bit scruffier than I would expect. They look hungry and underfed and a surprising number are wearing hats and long coats. I mention to my mother that I feel like I am in a Dickens novel, surrounded by British beggar children 1880.

My mother whispers back "I think most of them are from Oklahoma" as if this should explain everything.

The crowd is large though maybe not quite capacity. The young woman singing the anthem is "Miss University of Arkansas" or something and she is wearing a sash and a crown. She sings well but I am jealous of her outfit - my father mad me leave MY sash and crown at home.

When they introduce this singer they mention her sorority. Is it wrong that as soon as I hear the greek letters I start imagining more "Girls Gone Wild" than Stars and Stripes. I mention this to the woman sitting next to me and she just makes a weird noise and places her jacket between us. I'm thinking to myself that I may end up single for a while.

There is noise and crowding and a middle aged woman walks by wearing slacks that I swear must have been made from a Persian rug that had outlived its usefulness. I mention THIS to the woman next to me and she just looks herself up and down, I guess wondering if she is wearing anything that will be the next victim of my biting fashion wit.

I also mention that the Anthem singer's hair was all uneven and jacked up in back and that she needed one of those mirrors that you put behind your head when getting ready. At this point my neighbor switched seats with the guy next to her. Some people... I think maybe I'm lonely.

The Griffin brothers are a strange looking pair. They are HUGE and chiseled and look like someone designed and produced them at some sort of athlete factory but then ran out of money to finish up their faces and do the skin coloring. I feel a bit sorry for Taylor as he clearly got the lesser sperm when Mom and Dad's genetic material did their mash-up.

Austin Johnson is very skinny and I quickly decide he was a premature baby based on his head shape. My father confirms this impression. We feel good about our ability to make snap and baseless judgments.

And now it is time for basketball and I feel a little sick and nervous inside - just like I'm supposed to.

TIP OFF

Stef is starting again. I am not so sure about this as our guard trio looks really, really short compared to Johnson and in particular Warren and Crocker. I'm thinking matchup trouble.

RC buries a 3 off a dribble screen from Stef and the place EXPLODES. It has that big game feel where the crowd seems to be pressing on the court, about to burst into the action when the fans leap and roar as one to cheer.

Warren buries a 3. RC is guarding him and their is no way that will last for long.

Blake Griffin picks up an early foul. But Warren scores again. Yikes.

Stef strips Griffin on a double team. Need a lot of that.

We are pushing all the way to the baseline on every possession - rushing the ball up and forcing OU to stop it before turning back out to the perimeter. This is gonna lead to big 3s by trailers. I love it.

Austin Johnson shoots from his chin and he pulls his hands back on the follow through. It doesn't look good. He looks like Courtney will push him around.

GORGEOUS pick and roll bounce pass from Stef to Sanchez.

Crocker hits a 3 over Stef and I'm starting to worry more about the perimeter match ups than the interior ones. Crocker was taunting Stef after the shot. The refs stopped the action with Hightower talking to Crocker. I'm sure Stef was woofing too but he wasn't making a display of it. One of the refs took him aside during the timeout and was yelling at him.

FIRST TIMEOUT 13-8 HOGS

There are some odd looking kids running around BWA tonight. They just inspired me to come up with a new game show. Flash a picture of a funny looking kid and the contestant has to guess "Ugly or Retarded". Kathy Lee Gifford could host.

(I just told that joke to my mom and she looked at me the same way the lady next to me did)

Stef deep 3 from the top. He is looking good when he shoots rhythm shots without the bounce.

Britt comes in - maybe to guard Warren

Stef again deep. We are a dangerous, dangerous team when we have him doing that. OU is forced to call a TO and the crowd is going bananas. They can't stay in front of CF on transition.

Or in the half court. He is putting on a clinic on how to break down a defense with just the dribble. He probes and probes then finds a crease and makes open looks happen.

We are shooting layups and dunks.

We are guarding Griffin with 2 and a half guys when he gets it low. Folks will be open outside.

Monk is in to body Griffin. I like it.

Warren hits again on a dribble drive. He seems to be very, very good but also all right handed.

Monk gets a soft foul on Griffin and Pel goes nuts. The gray haired ref is SCREAMING at Pelphry. Wow that was interesting. The refs seem to be pretty aware of who Blake Griffin is.

SECONDTIMEOUT 25-10 HOGS

Warren again from the left wing.

Mike Sanchez is playing good.

RC buries one against a matchup zone. Just killer shooting.

Jeff Capel has interesting facial hair. Pencil thin mustache and small horizontal flavor-saver below the bottom lip topped off with a chin patch. He looks like a slightly villainous Count.

Welsh again deep. Third make from 3rd different spot on the floor.

Austin Johnson can't hit anything and Stef pushes it back coast to coast. OU calls another TO.

Griffin just let Stef go. He doesn't want to get a second foul. Smart but just a bit self involved.

THIRD TIMEOUT 37-17

Gracious this is a whoopin'. OU hasn't used a single sub that is worth anything yet. I am actually starting to like our depth with Britt and Monk and Moore and Clark.

Crocker for OU looks like he is 37. I think I played against him in high school. He just got his second foul and should have been teed up..

Now he gets his 3rd on a bad call and goes absolutely ape. This time he gets a T. He should be tossed. He kept yelling and yelling and showing up the ref. Capel didn't say a word to him which is interesting. I am officially frightened of Crocker. He is an angry feller. Maybe some of his high school age children have been giving him trouble at home and made him testy.

RC misses a free throw. Gulp!

We might score 60 this half. So might Warren. I think he has 20 already.

Griffin gets away with a push off. He won't get a second foul this half.

Crocker's replacement is a bouncy white dude with a gelled up faux-hawk hairdo. He looks like a rejected member of the Cobra-Kai dojo in "Karate Kid".

Nice OU run. Wow Griffin with an OOP and his head was at the rim. Dude is pure NBA in terms of size and strength.

LAST TIMEOUT 42-31

Griffin showing signs of being utterly dominant. Big 4 minutes coming up obviously.

This should be Fortson time.

We continue to work outside in, whether from dribble penetration or good post feeds. Best offense of the year.

Capel gets Teed up after one of those weird Washington post moves. Big mistake.

And Griffin gets his second foul. Wow.

Monk has a surprisingly soft free throw stroke and the lead is 17 again.

Karate dude misses a jumper and Fortson with a beauty bounce pass to Monk. Fortson is OWNING Johnson.

T. Griffin DROPS CF with a backcourt pick. Ouch.

Fortson sure makes our end of the clock offense look good. They can't stay in front of him.

HALFTIME 53-38

Washington outplays Griffin for a half. I would've lost that bet. Stef and RC hit big shots and Monk and Sanchez banged well. The story is Fortson though. Blake Griffin is the best player on the court but Fortson is the best COLLEGE player on the court.

In the college game with collapsing defenses a dominant guard (particularly a dominant point guard) is simply more important than a dominant inside player. Courtney is controlling every offensive possession and every player around him is better and more confident because of it. WooHoo!

They introduce the gymnastics team at halftime and they certainly are a cute bunch of itty bitty people.

It seems either I haven't been paying close enough attention or my beloved Stat Girl was recently promoted. She is looking lovely in a green silk blouse and srhe is sitting at the scorers table (just to the visitors side of the possession arrow) and wearing a headset. I assume she is reading off stats to the various announcers. She seems to be very much in control, and, I must say, a bit bossy. I like it very much. I'd like to think I have played a small but important part in her success.

There is a nervous edge as we head to the second half. Almost a sense of "when will it come" as far as an OU run. Men are standing by their seats, arms folded across their chests or hands on hips looking very serious and pointing things out to the other serious men standing nearby. I am doing this also. I feel like all of us are of the belief that the squad somehow needs our individual input and collective basketball brilliance before the second half. Alas we are not invited to the huddle.

SECOND HALF

Monk and Britt start and Pel starts doing that silly offense for defense substitution pattern early on. I realize that he is trying to be careful with fouls and to interrupt OU's flow but it not a good idea. Players lose continuity and so does our game. We are a rhythm team.

I would like to recommend actually guarding Willie Warren this half, jack him up a few times. This is easier said than done when he spots up on the same side as Griffin posts and we have to pick our poison and double down to stop Griffin leaving Warren wide open or take on Griffin one on one in the post. We have shown a bit of doubling from the back side and from the high post and we need more of that.


OU is pounding it to Griffin but if Johnson can't hit a jumper OU might be in trouble. Crocker is still on the bench with 4 fouls and the Karate Kid is in his place. He is 0-4 or something like that and he is bearing sweatbands or tape on both wrists. I'm not sure which is worse.

Stef gets his 3rd foul and will sit for a bit. The whistles are never ending, unless Griffin is involved.

I'd like to take this opportunity to start asking for the crowd to whistle rather than boo when bad things happen, like European soccer fans. There is something menacing and vaguely foreboding about a whistling crowd. (We can get to crowd singing later).

Warren has lost his mojo a bit after missing a couple of jumpers. He is sulking just a tad..

FIRST TIMEOUT 60-46

The refs have completely taken the legs and the pace out of this game. Drives me nuts..

I just noticed that the Griffens have NO tattoos. In today's game that is almost like playing nude.

Monk makes a difference on interior defense. He is strong and uses his hands pretty well.

Blake Griffin gets his 3rd on a cheapish one and Sanchez gets a nice hoop and they can't stop CF and we are back up 20.

RC misses a dagger in transition. Courtney gives him a wink.

Washington in foul trouble now and Stef is back in.

Fortson is unstoppable right now.

Crocker comes back which might make a difference because sweatband man hasn't done a thing.
Warren airballs and OU has a back up point guard in the game that looks like he could be a third, extremely runty, Griffin brother - perhaps put together at the same lab as the other two but as an afterthought and out of leftover parts.

RC with a huge transition 3 and we are up 25 and the place is bouncing.

Someone might want to watch Crocker. He just buried 2 deep ones.

THIRD TIMEOUT 72-53 HOGS

Still a slight sense of impending comeback but the fear is starting to wane, like we are invulnerable because of our guard play.

They did the "fan cam" thing where they flash shots of crowd members on the scoreboard and I have to tell you that people just couldn't seem more thrilled to see a picture of themselves. They go nuts. It's as if they have FINALLY been discovered and all the hard work and trials of a lifetime have paid off. It'll all be gravy from here on out now that they have been spotted and broadcast.

Another 3 from Crocker and Stef gets his 4th followed by a Griffin bucket, Johnson steal and Warren lay up. It's a 12 point game and I hope that doesn't get Warren off the schneid.

Wash and Welsh both sitting with 4. Jeez crocker just hit another and he is yapping about it. I would be too, he is on FIRE.

Monk gets 4 points from the line to stem the tide. Big.

THIRD TIMEOUT 73-62 Hogs

Crocker is wearing a long sleeve shirt. I'm guessing to cover up age spots on his arms.

Blake Griffin's eyes are so close together he almost looks like a cyclops. Not surprisingly playing against a mythological Greek monster can be a bit scary.

Austin Johnson back in for the runty kid. That is good for us.

Our post feeds and even kickouts are much, much better tonight.

CF gets a block call but he made the quickest hop to the right to try to take a charge I have ever seen.

Monk rolls and dunks. Goodness he is a heady player.

Griffin with a putback, steal and he threw it off RC while he was falling. It was an incredibly athletic play and you could tell that the game really moves slowly for him

3 from Warren, uh-oh. Turnover and another 3 from Warren. Crap!
CF makes a beautiful trap break and hits Washington for a dunk.

As a crowd we are collectively soiling ourselves.

We blow a couple bunnies but nice effort to salvage a jump ball.

LAST TIMEOUT 84-79

Courtney, Courtney, Courtney. Give him the ball.

Blake Griffin couldn't handle Washington on the box. Yes I just wrote that.

OU is tired and careless.

Oh my. CF holds it, drives and Wash scores. Crocker misses and that will be it.

Fortson strips Griffin then fouls out.

The fans are chanting SEC. I hate that. What does it mean? Maybe that's ok in football but in hoops the SEC is a joke right now.

The Karate Kid just fouled out. His line will be like 15 minutes, 0-5 maybe a rebound, no steals no assists, no blocks. Nice effort fella.

Another Griffin fouls out and OU puts in a kid that looks so surprised he is getting to play that he forgot to comb his hair for the game.


BALLGAME 96-88

Not much else to say. It wasn't a loud loss like I predicted. It was more of a smackdown thumping.

It is big but this is what we should do to everyone that comes into BWA. We should jump on them hard and early and bomb them out of existence. I really liked the WAY we won - big runs and aggressive play.

That was fun.


(as a sidenote for those of you that recorded the game and are interested in Stat Girl - just after the buzzer the camera cuts to Pel at the scorers table and as it pans you see her at the table with a headset on)

JCK

1 comments

  1. Anonymous // January 6, 2009 at 9:53 PM  

    The stat girl you speak of is actually a marketing intern, which has nothing to do with stats.