Archive for Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Griffin makes game different

Self, Aldrich hope to play OU again with star healthy

Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin congratulates Kansas center Cole Aldrich as they leave the court after the Jayhawks' 87-78 win.

Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin congratulates Kansas center Cole Aldrich as they leave the court after the Jayhawks' 87-78 win.

February 25, 2009


No Griffin, no problem for Jayhawks

Kansas took sole possession of first place in the Big 12 by beating Oklahoma on Monday. Enlarge video

There’s no way Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin could have played in Monday’s key conference clash against Kansas University.

Those who watched the game on ESPN saw the 6-foot-10 sophomore phenom rubbing his temples on the home team’s bench, agonizing from the after-effects of the concussion he sustained Saturday at Texas.

But for talk-around-the-water cooler’s-sake, what if college basketball’s leading player-of-the-year candidate had been on the court for, say, 30 to 40 minutes?

Here’s Daily Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson’s take:

“With Griffin, the Sooners beat the Jayhawks by double figures,” Carlson wrote for Monday’s newspaper and online edition. “He was in no shape to play against the Jayhawks. If he would’ve been, the Sooners would’ve dominated because Griffin would’ve dominated.

“The Sooner big man would’ve had his way with Cole Aldrich. Despite 15 points and 20 rebounds, the Jayhawk center was oddly underwhelming in a game where he faced a depleted frontline. He should’ve asserted himself Monday night, going to the goal and taking advantage of his prowess. Instead, Aldrich settled for jumpers and hooks.

“The two big fellows have known each other for several years, and they walked off the court together Monday night.

“‘I wish I would’ve had the opportunity to play against him tonight,’ Aldrich said. ‘He’s fantastic.’

“Griffin would’ve shown it against Aldrich. He would’ve eaten his lunch, his snack and his dinner, too.”

Certainly those paragraphs could be bulletin-board material for the Jayhawks if there’s an upcoming rematch in the Big 12 postseason tournament in Oklahoma City. As it stands now, suffice it to say KU fans will beg to differ with the OKC writer.

“It definitely would have been a different type game,” KU assistant coach Joe Dooley said on Tuesday’s Hawk Talk radio show. “The pace may have been slower in some regards. They’d probably have thrown it in more. As far as the outcome, I can’t tell you that. The game probably would have had a different feel.

“Cole ... he went and got it,” Dooley added of Aldrich pursuing the basketball. “With Blake not out there, there are a few more rebound opportunities. He was terrific as usual.”

Coach Bill Self agreed that Aldrich had a big impact.

“Cole gets 20. That is remarkable,” Self said. “Our second-leading rebounder gets three (Marcus Morris) and we outrebound them by five (38-33). Cole’s been unbelievable.

“We certainly hope to play them again. It’d mean we each won one or two games in the Big 12 tournament. It’s not often our guys get a chance to play against the player of the year and No. 1 NBA draft pick,” Self added.

Aldrich also hopes to play against his buddy.

“We talked a little bit before the week started. We were looking forward to facing each other. He’s off the charts good,” Aldrich said. “I look forward to playing against him in the future.”

Instant classic?: It remains to be seen if Monday’s game will be deemed an ESPN “Instant Classic.” The Jayhawks at one point trailed by 14 points (22-8), then led by 20 (58-38) before seeing the lead dip to three.

“We talked about them coming out with energy and playing at a high level because Blake wasn’t playing,” Self said Tuesday, referring to the Sooners rallying around their fallen hero. “We weren’t good early. We got sped up and didn’t make shots on top of everything else.

“We didn’t guard like we’re capable. The light came on for whatever reason and defensively we were great from the 10-minute mark the first half until the 10-minute mark of the second. Unfortunately those other minutes they scored 60 points. They had 40 points the last 10 minutes in large part because fouls extended the game.

“Our guys showed a lot of character and poise. We were on the verge of putting ourselves in a hole we couldn’t get out of. To turn it on a dime like the kids did was pretty remarkable,” Self added.

Stephenson update: Lance Stephenson, a 6-foot-5 guard from Lincoln High in Brooklyn, N.Y., who attended last Saturday’s KU-Nebraska game in Allen Fieldhouse, is planning on making trips to Wake Forest and UCLA, his dad told Stephenson, however, said in an interview that appears on he has eliminated USC and UCLA and is down to KU, St. John’s, Maryland and Wake.

His dad told Rivals his son will likely make his college choice known on April 15. Stephenson told zagsblog that he might announce his choice on March 21 if his team makes the PSAL title game in Madison Square Garden.

“The fans at Kansas are great,” Stephenson told “I just love how they cheer the players and how they treat them. I was very surprised when people came up and knew who I was. Some of the people asked me for autographs. I enjoyed the game, too. It was a tough game, but Kansas pulled away late.”

Johnson in Festival: KU signee Elijah Johnson tells he’ll play in the Kentucky Derby festival all-star game on April 11 at Freedom Hall in Louisville.

Collins on list: KU’s Sherron Collins has been named a Naismith Trophy midseason candidate, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday. League members joining Collins include Texas guard A.J. Abrams and Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin. There are 30 candidates in all.


davidsmom 9 years, 3 months ago

One caller to a radio talk show said that the Jayhawks tend to play to their level of competition. Cole and all of them might have played a lot harder if they'd had to face Griffin. It's impossible to say how they might have played against him.

kujayhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

With Blake out it became a lose/lose situation for us. If we win, it was because Griffen was out. If we lose, Oklahoma beat us without their best player. I'll take the win and deal with the bs excuses from the other teams as we march towards another Big XII title. Nice win 'Hawks!

jaywalker 9 years, 3 months ago

Don't care anymore, that's all POH.

Win two of last three they're guaranteed at least a tie for title. Win out and it's theirs alone. Who'da thunk it? Phenomenal year no matter what.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years, 3 months ago

Jenni Carlson obviously knows very little about basketball. Jenni says, “With Griffin, the Sooners beat the Jayhawks by double figures". I say that if Griffin plays then the game changes. Instead of a guard oriented, fast paced game, both teams slow down and go to the post more often. Instead of lightning quick 14-2 or 10-0 runs you get grind-it-out 8-2 and 7-0 runs. If Griffin plays, there is a good chance that neither team wins by double digits because there is just less points being scored. Jenni then says, "He (Aldrich) should’ve asserted himself Monday night, going to the goal and taking advantage of his prowess. Instead, Aldrich settled for jumpers and hooks." Obviously Jenni has not watched Cole Aldrich play before. Going to the goal? Are you suggesting that Aldrich put the ball on the floor and drive? Yeah, that's probably going to work out well. I suggest the Daily Oklahoman put your expertise where it belongs....The Style page.

CLARKKENT 9 years, 3 months ago

jaywalker--we should have thunk it. simply put--bill self is the best coach in college basketball.

Jim Williamson 9 years, 3 months ago


thanksforcoming 9 years, 3 months ago

After they won their 19th I thought it was a great year. I thought this year was going to be slow. It started that way but the young guns are putting it together. It's going to be another fun March. As far as Griffin being out, we weren't playing the Oklahoma Blakes, we were playing the Sooners and we beat them.

jaywalker 9 years, 3 months ago


Hey, I love Bill and said yesterday if we go on to win the title he'd have to be front-runner for national Coach of the Year. He's already got the Big 12 honor wrapped up, I think. But noone picked us to finish better than third this year. I never anticipated this kind of success, particularly when a last second loss to MU, a one in a hundred loss to UMass, and an overtime loss that shouldn't have been (Aldrich misses clinching free throw, only miss of the game) against 'Cuse, could have us sitting with only two losses thus far.

jonas_opines 9 years, 3 months ago

Gar! Who the #@$% cares? Any team is capable of winning and losing no matter their circumstances. Why don't we just stick with what we actually know, that as it was it was a hell of an exciting game.

mom_of_three 9 years, 3 months ago

the girl is clueless about basketball, and I am embarrassed that a girl wrote the article.

shepdog 9 years, 3 months ago


jayhawk10 9 years, 3 months ago

"how can she make those statemanets???"

just bitter that OU lost...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 3 months ago

I think Griffin is a better player than Hansbrough, but certainly no better than Beasley or Durant, and they didn't mean certain victory for their teams against KU.

jesusturds 9 years, 3 months ago

This Carlson needs to quit writing about sports, she obviously knows nothing about basketball. We would have won with or without BG playing. No wonder Mike Gundy unleashed the wrath on her last year.

Martin Shupert 9 years, 3 months ago

So, if OK had had Griffin, OK would have won by double digits. Wow. Can we play the IF game too? If Mario, Arthur, and Rush had returned for another year, who wins by double digits? If we had played this game at Allen Fieldhouse, what then? The IF game is about tuning out reality and creating one of your own. If Griffin had gone pro, what then? If Warren had come to KU? IF IF IF IF IF... If IF ANDS and BUTS were candy and nuts, we'd all have a very good Christmas.

PTI 9 years, 3 months ago

All I can say to the Daily Oklahoman's Ms Carlson is get a tape of KU vs. UNC in last years Final Four and watch how last year's National Player of the Year fared against Cole...Psycho-T looked more like deer in the headlights T as a freshman ate his lunch! Griffin is a great player and plays a much more physical game than Cole, but if you look at Cole's numbers he's one of the leading big men in the Big XII and the nation. The entire team would've played a different game plan against Blake and KU would have thrown 25 fouls at the kid to wear him down...who's to say what the outcome might have been but for a Journo columnist to be such a Homer is simply not professional. All I know is I can't wait to see them both play at full strength in Oklahoma City!

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