Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Big fun with ‘Big O’

Ostertag ponders return to NBA

Andrew Hanzel of Lee's Summit, Mo., eyes a size-18 autographed basketball shoe from former Jayhawk and NBA basketball player Greg Ostertag, center, following a scrimmage at the Bill Self basketball camp. At right is Liz Haywood of Greenwood, Mo. Ostertag participated in a scrimmage Wednesday at Horejsi Center.

Andrew Hanzel of Lee's Summit, Mo., eyes a size-18 autographed basketball shoe from former Jayhawk and NBA basketball player Greg Ostertag, center, following a scrimmage at the Bill Self basketball camp. At right is Liz Haywood of Greenwood, Mo. Ostertag participated in a scrimmage Wednesday at Horejsi Center.

June 21, 2007

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Greg Ostertag flipped in a one-handed, behind-the-back three-point shot while warming up for the Bill Self campers game Wednesday at Horejsi Center.

"I was just jacking around," the 34-year-old former Kansas University/NBA center said.

He was more serious during a 45-minute scrimmage involving KU's current players, as well as former Jayhawk Michael Lee.

The 7-foot-2, 290-pound Ostertag hauled down nine rebounds and scored four points off 1-of-6 shooting in a 75-70 loss.

"I was tired, but it was a lot of fun. It's always fun coming back here," said Ostertag, a Duncanville, Texas, native, who played at KU from 1991 to '95 and followed that with 11 NBA seasons prior to his retirement following the 2005-06 campaign.

The oft-zany Ostertag transformed himself into a team leader Wednesday. With the score 63-58 following some sloppy turnovers, he called all participants to center court. There, Ostertag delivered a no-nonsense message about playing harder and finishing the first-team-to-score-75 game off right.

"The play was getting a little sloppy. Everybody was getting a little tired, throwing balls all over the place," said Ostertag. "I said, 'Just try to settle down and not make the exceptional pass, make the good pass for guys with wide-open jumpers.' I think right there at the end we played a little better."

Ostertag - he signed autographs for fans and even presented the size 18 Nikes off his feet to a pair of lucky spectators after the scrimmage - hopes to return to the camp game next summer as an active NBA player.

No fooling.

Andrew Hanzel of Lee's Summit, Mo., eyes a size-18 autographed basketball shoe from former Jayhawk and NBA basketball player Greg Ostertag, center, following a scrimmage at the Bill Self basketball camp. At right is Liz Haywood of Greenwood, Mo. Ostertag participated in a scrimmage Wednesday at Horejsi Center.

Andrew Hanzel of Lee's Summit, Mo., eyes a size-18 autographed basketball shoe from former Jayhawk and NBA basketball player Greg Ostertag, center, following a scrimmage at the Bill Self basketball camp. At right is Liz Haywood of Greenwood, Mo. Ostertag participated in a scrimmage Wednesday at Horejsi Center.

The "Big O" is seriously pondering an NBA comeback.

"First I have to try to get my fat butt in shape," Ostertag cracked.

But seriously, folks ...

"I am still young enough to play," he said. "Last year was the first time in 24 years I haven't played. It was fun, but I think I can still do it. I might give it a shot this year. I'll tell my agent to put my name out there and see what happens."

Ostertag said "yes" forcibly when asked if he missed the NBA.

"A lot is because I can still do it. I am not going to go out there and play 40 minutes or probably even 20 minutes," he said. "If I can give 15 minutes here and there, get a couple of rebounds, a couple of blocks for somebody, I'll do that.

"Like I said, I missed it, especially playoff time. Those are the times you enjoy the most. The atmosphere is a lot better. It's a lot more physical. They let you play and so forth. It's what makes the game fun."

Ostertag, who had career averages of 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 points per game, said he has started a workout program.

He has been playing pick-up basketball with the Jayhawks since Sunday, when he brought his son, Cody, to town for camp.

"I've got some weight to lose. Then I may have to go in and work out for somebody (NBA team). I don't know how it works. I've never been in this situation before," he said.

Kansas junior guard Mario Chalmers, left, dribbles around former Jayhawk Michael Lee during a scrimmage at the Bill Self Basketball Camp. Current and ex-Jayhawks scrimmaged Wednesday at Horejsi Center.

Kansas junior guard Mario Chalmers, left, dribbles around former Jayhawk Michael Lee during a scrimmage at the Bill Self Basketball Camp. Current and ex-Jayhawks scrimmaged Wednesday at Horejsi Center.

KU senior power forward Darnell Jackson, who scored 22 points, including six off a pair of three-pointers, said he was impressed with Ostertag.

"I thought Sasha (Kaun, 17 points, nine rebounds) takes up a lot of space - Greg Ostertag takes up A LOT of space," Jackson exclaimed. "The only thing I could do was try to use my quickness or shoot the ball real high over his length."

The 6-8, 250-pound Jackson, who had one vicious dunk after a strong move down the lane, blocked one of Ostertag's shots.

"It felt good because I said, 'I'm going to get you,' and he was like, 'No, you're not,''' Jackson said. "And when he came around and tried to shoot a little baby hook, I got real lucky and timed it great and got a little block."

Jackson, who did not attempt a three last season, grinned when asked about putting up three threes - the result of jibes from injured teammate Brandon Rush, who sat on the Blue team bench throughout.

"Brandon was messing with me," Jackson said. "He was like, 'Man, go out there and shoot about 50 shots like I do.' So I went out there and tried to be like Brandon Rush. It was a lot of fun."

¢Stats: Darrell Arthur scored 19 points, while walk-on Conner Teahan hit three threes and had 11 points. Mario Chalmers, whose three ended the game, had 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Kaun, who converted two slams off lobs from Chalmers, had 17 points. Tyrel Reed and Rodrick Stewart each hit six of 13 shots. Stewart scored 13, Reed 12. Lee hit a pair of threes despite playing with an injured right shoulder.

¢Turnout down: Self said he understood why just two alumni made it back for the traditional scrimmage game. He pointed out the fact Aaron Miles is in Milwaukee Bucks minicamp, Julian Wright is doing NBA workouts and Wayne Simien is vacationing in Israel. Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard and Drew Gooden just finished their long NBA seasons. Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison are both preparing for their weddings next month.

KU's Darrell Arthur puts up a shot during Wednesday's scrimmage.

KU's Darrell Arthur puts up a shot during Wednesday's scrimmage.

"It's good to get those guys back. Hopefully next year we'll get a few more," Self said.

¢Friends forever: Three of Self's former Oklahoma State teammates were in town Wednesday - Leroy Combs, Lorenza Andrews and Ricky Jacobs. Combs, a high school coach in Oklahoma City, is a counselor at the camp.

"I think I look a lot younger than all those three guys," Self joked. "It's good to get them back. I don't get to see them often."

¢Jackson on Ostertag's speech: "He just reminded us that when we're out there playing it's for the kids. We have to compete for the kids. There was a lot of guys who were getting real competitive, and that's what we do when we play each - we get real competitive and try to go at each other. So he just told us we have to slow it down and just play basketball."

¢Coach Rush: Rush had a good time watching the action. "I was coaching over here for a while. That's why the Blue team won over here. They had a good coach," he said.

¢ESPNU bonanza: From 2 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, ESPNU will televise over 20 hours of KU men's basketball. The day is named "Kansas Cram Session" and features several nationally televised games from last year's 33-5 campaign.

Comments

craigers 7 years, 10 months ago

Somehow I doubt that Ramirez. Ostertag would probably swat your junk all over the place.

erod0723 7 years, 10 months ago

So what if he sucked. He got paid big bucks to be mediocre. I wish my job rewarded me like that.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

Sucking in the NBA doesn't translate into a lack of talent. Ramirez is simply someone who knows he could never have cut it and never has to prove that he could, so he can talk all he wants.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years, 10 months ago

Ostertag survived for a long time in a sport where there are many, many very talented people. And yes, I remember when Shaq slapped him. Is that your idea of what it takes to be an NBA "star".

What I don't remember is the NBA coming up with a special rule to cover up for any of Ostertag's flaws like they did for Shaq's complete inability to hit foul shots, often costing his team the victory at the end of a game.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years, 10 months ago

Several years of playing pool and smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day, but I know you don't survive 11 years in the NBA unless you're contributing something to the overall team effort. the key here is the space Ostertag takes up on the inside, something that Shaq also excels at. They may not get rebounds all the time, but they know which players to let go around them to get those rebounds while they block out the defense.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years, 10 months ago

Good has a whole different meaning in the NBA. Ostertag may not be a good NBA player, but it strikes me that it's awfully hard to argue that a guy who was a starting center for one of Roy William's KU teams and then went on to play for 11 years in the NBA before voluntarily retiring isn't a good basketball player. Tim Duncan he's not, but they don't pay you as much as they paid him if you don't earn it.

lildos 7 years, 10 months ago

Apparently Mr. Ramirez think he is better than O. Two Years at Allen Co definetly makes him a contender on a one-on-one against Ostertag, a former KU starting center (add sarcastic voice). Uhlrick_Hetfield_III has a great point that good in the NBA is completely different and Ostertag, like many seven footers, found a niche where he strived and was able to make money. More power to him. Like college coaches an analysts say, you can't teach tall, and Osterteg had that.

Actually, good in college is also completely different. I bet Mr. Ramirez even in his golden years at JuCo could not keep up with any of the walk ons at KU.

lildos 7 years, 10 months ago

as I read the rest of the comments, I will have to say my two cents about something else. Anybody who thinks soccer is not a sport has some serious issues. Like sb said, most people could not play 10 minutes of real soccer. I bet some really athletic footbal players would have a hear attack if they had to play a whole game of soccer.

Different sports require different skills, and to me soccer is one of the sports that requires the best conditioning.

lildos 7 years, 10 months ago

by hear attack I meant heart attack...

trinity 7 years, 10 months ago

dear god, allen co cc, wowwweeeeeeee. big flip.

i love/loved greg ostertag&always will! i don't care if he's playing ball or not, he's a really neat person&that quality shines. unlike some posters.

Bill Woodard 7 years, 10 months ago

Let's not forget, too, that during one NBA season Ostertag donated a kidney to save his sister's life, and returned to league play that same year. Regardless of what you think of his playing ability--and guess what, haters, why don't you try being his size and flashing the kind of massive athleticism that you apparently demand of him--Big O is a good man, period, and he's taken care of his family in every way that's important.

Linda Aikins 7 years, 10 months ago

Personally, I've always looked forward to experiencing the Big O!

lildos 7 years, 10 months ago

ramrod, I am not talking about the ones that became something, I was talking about the ones that because they played a couple of seasons in a Juco they think they know better than NBA coaches and teams.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

"Still the most overpaid NBA player of all time."

Gotta love quotes like this. Simply praying that none of us care to take the time to dig through stats to find someone (who is undoubtedly there, somewhere) that can certainly be justified as being more overpaid that Ostertag.

And you don't need a sir, Ramirez. That would be like calling a dog a man. It's just, simply, inaccurate.

Bobbi Walls 7 years, 10 months ago

I remember working in Tonganoxie in 1993 when Ostertag came in. He was so freakin rude to all of us girls at the Ice Cream Parlor, that we couldn't wait for him to leave..

lildos 7 years, 10 months ago

Mr Ramirez, apparently you have something against sb. But I have a question. If you were so good, and are so good that you think you are better than Ostretag, then why is it that you did not go anywhere after two years at Juco?

trinity 7 years, 10 months ago

golly gee whillikers, methinks mr. ramrod is a wee bit jealous! or something. you can always tell when school's out for the summer; the kiddies infiltrate the forums.

oh dear gootsie; the big O. hmmm. relieves headaches, muscle tensions, stress, and just downright feels wicked good! ;)

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