Posted on: November 23, 2008 12:44 am

Griffin scores and rebounds a bunch, again

Possible new slogan for the Big 12: Record-breaking years ... every year!

That was my first thought when I saw that Oklahoma's Blake Griffin had another huge game Saturday, that he seems capable to break the league records set last season by Kansas State's Michael Beasley, who broke the records set the season before by Texas' Kevin Durant. Griffin's 35-point, 21-rebound effort against Gardner-Webb means the sophomore is now averaging 26.0 points and 19.8 rebounds through four games, which is insane and enough to make him the (very) early season leader for National Player of the Year honors.

Next up is a trip to New York, where the Sooners will meet UAB in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-off.  The stage at Madison Square Garden will give Griffin the stage he deserves to further establish himself as the likely top pick in next June's NBA Draft, and Mike Davis, if you're reading, my advice is to double the post.

Actually, go ahead and triple the post.

Better safe than sorry.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 3, 2008 1:01 pm

That All-American team looks familiar

The AP All-American team looks exactly like the CBSSports.com All-American team.

But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be some debate.

The reality is that when I put together my team the only must-have-players were Tyler Hansbrough, Stephen Curry and Luke Harangody. I can't understand why any ballot wouldn't include those three names, but I can't understand a lot of what happens on AP ballots. So whatever. As for Blake Griffin and Darren Collison, yes, I also featured both. But I considered teams without those names and actually almost went one of the following:

G: Darren Collison (UCLA)
G: Stephen Curry (Davidson)
G: James Harden (Arizona State)
F: Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)
F: Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)

Or ...

G: Stephen Curry (Davidson)
G: James Harden (Arizona State)
F: Tyler Smith (Tennessee)
F: Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)
F: Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)

To be clear, I love Griffin and Collison. But Collison's dreadful Final Four appearance is something I nearly couldn't get out of my head, and though Griffin was dominant as a freshman his numbers weren't quite as good as Hansbrough's or Harangody's. So that's why I considered dropping one or both for Harden and/or Smith. But in the end, I think I got it right. And I think the AP voters got it right, too.

So good for me.

And good for them.

And we'll just have to argue some other day.

Posted on: October 16, 2008 1:02 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2008 1:03 pm

Put the knives away, please

First Oklahoma basketball player Ray Willis was stabbed.

Then Santa Clara basketball player John Bryant was stabbed.

And now BYU basketball player Chris Collinsworth has been stabbed, too.

I won't try to draw a correlation between the three incidents because they were all unique. But my God, is this normal? Do we always have players getting stabbed in the offseason? Or is this a scary little trend that's developing?

Answer: I don't know.

And I'm not even sure there's a point to this post.

But it's hard not to notice how there seems to be a college basketball headline every other week featuring the words player and stabbed. And though it appears Willis, Bryant and Collinsworth will recover, how much longer can it be until we have a headline featuring the words player and stabbed and died?

Posted on: October 9, 2008 2:34 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2008 11:33 am

An explanation (for those who can't read)

I was going to try to get through the day without posting this blog.

But I knew I'd never make it.

Unfortunately, some of my readers -- not you reading this; just the stupid ones -- lack reading comprehension skills, which causes me to often times explain things over and over again as if I'm talking to my 5-year-old son. It's frustrating. But it comes with the territory. So let me use this space to further explain my column about "NBA talent" on college teams and address some emails I've received this morning.


Here we go!

Question: My favorite team (insert name here) has a great player named (insert name here) who is probably a lottery pick. How could you not count him as being drafted this year or next year?

Answer: As I clearly stated, whether prospects are considered "NBA talents" is not something I decided for the purposes of this column. I turned that over to DraftExpress.com. In other words, this was a simple process for me. If DraftExpress.com had a player listed as going in the first round or second round of the 2009 or 2010 NBA Draft, I listed him accordingly. If not, I didn't. So any questions about the status of prospects should be directed to DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony, not me.

(Sorry Jonathan!)

Also, I explained in the column that this is not an exact science or an absolute predictor of which teams will and will not be great. One reason is because many players considered "NBA talents" in October won't be considered "NBA talents" in March, and vice versa. Another reason is because though I believe with every ounce of my brain that "NBA talents" are necessary to win the national title (just look at the recent history of national champions), I do not believe they are required to make an Elite Eight or even Final Four. For example, I think Notre Dame is going to be great this season, but (according to DraftExpress.com) there isn't a future first-round pick on the team. So while history suggests this suggests the Irish won't be our national champions, it doesn't mean they can't win the Big East and much more.

Question: My favorite team (insert name here) has committed (insert name here). He's ranked 10th in the Class of 2009 and will surely be a first-round pick. Why are you not counting him?

Answer: What on earth does a Class of 2009 prospect have to do with this season?

Regardless of where John Wall signs, he won't have anything to do with what happens on the court in the 2008-09 season because he won't play college basketball until the 2009-2010 season. Same goes for Abdul Gaddy. And Renardo Sidney. And Derrick Favors. And you get the idea, don't you?

Bottom line, only players on the current roster matter.

People who may or may not come in the future have nothing to do with this column.

Question: Why did you only list teams with at least eight points?

Answer: Because there were nine teams with at least eight points, and that took me to 1,500 words. That was plenty. But I did use the same exercise to go further down the list. In all, there were 16 teams with at least six points. So if you want to look at the rest of the list, well, here you go ...

-- Pittsburgh --

  • Number of projected draft picks:  2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Sam Young (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: DeJuan Blair (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Oklahoma --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Blake Griffin (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Willie Warren (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Tennessee --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Tyler Smith (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Scotty Hopson (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Arizona State --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: James Harden (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Jeff Pendergraph (2 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Georgetown --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 3
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: NA
  • 2010 first round:  Greg Monroe (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: DaJuan Summers (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: Austin Freeman (1 point)

-- Memphis --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: Tyreke Evans (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: NA
  • 2009 second round: Robert Dozier (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Texas --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: Damion James (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: NA
  • 2009 second round: Connor Atchley (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: NA
Posted on: October 7, 2008 1:52 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2008 1:54 pm

Big 12 coaches pick OU to edge Texas in hoops

The Big 12, on Tuesday, released its official preseason basketball poll, which I thought was interesting because it basically echoed what I wrote earlier Tuesday while addressing an email about Missouri's NCAA tournament hopes. I was glad to see I wasn't crazy with my assessment, that the Big 12 coaches have the same first four teams that I have (just in a slightly different order). Furthermore, the next three (which are clearly behind the first four, like I predicted) are also the same. So without further ado, let's look at the official Big 12 poll:

Team                     (First-place votes)          Points

1. Oklahoma                 (3)                              109

2. Texas                         (4)                              107

3. Baylor                         (2)                              103

3. Kansas                      (3)                              103

5. Texas A&M                                                    79

6. Oklahoma State                                           69

7. Missouri                                                         51

8. Kansas State                                                50

9.  Nebraska                                                     49

10. Texas Tech                                                 39

11. Iowa State                                                   20

12. Colorado                                                     13

In short, I have no real issues with this poll.

One difference is that I like Texas to win the Big 12 based on the Longhorns returning four starters from a 31-win team. However, it could be argued that no major conference school (except Kansas State) will miss a single player as much as Texas will miss D.J. Augustin. And if you subscribe to that theory and the likelihood that Oklahoma will have the best returning player (Blake Griffin) and best newcomer (Willie Warren) in the league, then I have no problem with you putting the Sooners ahead of the Longhorns.

To be clear, I like OU too.

After that, I think Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Missouri will (like the poll suggests) compete for fifth in the Big 12, which is what I wrote earlier. And that was the basis of me stating that the Tigers have a "decent chance" to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. That they're picked seventh, however, indicates they'll have to overachieve a bit. But remember, Mike Anderson made a habit of overachieving at UAB. So again, let's put Missouri on the bubble and see how things unfold.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 15, 2008 12:17 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2008 12:20 pm

Nation's best inside-outside duo?

I've been to Oklahoma and Notre Dame the past two weekends and listened to folks from both schools tell me they have the nation's best inside-outside duo. At OU, there's Willie Warren and Blake Griffin. At Notre Dame, there's Kyle McAlarney and Luke Harangody. Honestly, I think either duo can make a reasonable claim to the title. But the whole thing got me thinking about which combinations might really be in the running for best inside-outside duo.

Here's a list off the top of my head ...
  • Oklahoma (Willie Warren and Blake Griffin)
  • Notre Dame (Kyle McAlarney and Luke Harangody)
  • North Carolina (Ty Lawson or Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough)
  • Pittsburgh (Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair)
  • Connecticut (A.J. Price and Hasheem Thabeet or Jeff Adrien)
  • Arizona State (James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph)
  • Southern California (Demar DeRozan and Taj Gibson)
OK, who am I missing?

And which combination is the best?
Posted on: September 11, 2008 4:42 pm
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Posted on: September 11, 2008 4:42 pm

Warren to benefit from Griffin's 'crazy' decision

One of the things Willie Warren said in our conversation the other day is that he committed to Oklahoma, at least in part, because he wanted to play with Blake Griffin, which makes sense. I mean, a good guard always benefits from a dominant post presence, Mike Conley and his million-dollar contract being a solid recent example. So Warren saw Griffin at OU and committed to OU. But as last season progressed and Griffin showed his ability on a national stage it became apparent he was a guaranteed lottery pick, and that's when Warren figured Griffin would be gone before he ever arrived on campus.

"I expected him to leave," Warren said. "I actually think he's crazy for not leaving."

For the record, so do I. In fact, that's what I wrote three months ago (I actually used that same word, crazy, in a column). But that's neither here nor there anymore. As it stands, Griffin is back and Warren is with him, and those two could form the nation's best inside-outside duo.

"Oh yeah," Warren said. "I think we will."

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com