For the second straight academic year, an Oklahoma sports team has gone into Texas and lost their star player to a concussion early in the game. Fortunately for the Sooners basketball team, a loss like this doesn't diminish their national championship hopes, thanks to March Madness.
Yes, we lost. You'd obviously like to avoid losing. However, I doubt we were going to get through the rest of the season unscathed, and I guess we might as well lose on the road, in a rivalry game, without our best player.
For those of you who haven't "googled concussion", it's a more serious injury than you might think. Sam Bradford, last season, had the benefit of a full week for recovery. Despite the fact that Blake Griffin was pleading with trainers to get back into the game, it's questionable whether or not he would get to play on Monday:
Some people have obvious symptoms of a concussion (such as passing out or feeling lightheaded), while others do not. With rest, most people fully recover from concussions within a few hours to a few weeks. --WebMD
So we might not know until gametime. This very well could be a gametime decision.
Your brain needs more of a time-out than just missing the next game to recover from a concussion. New research suggests student athletes who are too active - not just on the field, but at home and school - may hinder their recovery. --USAToday
After Big Monday against Kansas, our next game is at Texas Tech, so the doctors could very well hold him out until Texas Tech to make absolutely sure there's no risk for additional damage. Anyways, enough of the bad news.
Here's a quote that I thought was interesting:
"Yeah, it was physical down there, there was a lot of contact," [Damion (traitor)] James said. --ESPN
Ya think, Damion? Yeah, it was pretty physical. The difference was that we were being called for ticky tack fouls. Example? The first foul that was called on Blake. Very questionable. And that continued for a lot of the game. Amazingly ticky tack fouls. And I counted at least 5 separate occasions where we had position on a rebound, a Texas player went over the back, but nothing was called and Texas got possession.
Anyways, I'm not going to sit here and gripe about the officiating. And to be fair, Griffin got the concussion on somewhat incidental contact.
Let's be positive for a second:
- Willie Warren showed he could step it up and be a star too. He had 27 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal. You have to admire the fact that he cramped up, and still managed to hit a 3 before he had to come out briefly. However, he did have 3 turnovers, and if I recall correctly, all of them came when he was trying to do something a bit too much. We need him to play within himself if Blake can't go on Monday.
- Ryan Wright finally played with some emotion and passion and made his presence felt. That could be huge if we need him again on Monday.
- Crocker played well in the first half, really well, and hit a clutch shot or two in the second half.
Things that obviously need improvement:
- Pattillo and Warren are great - very talented players. But they need to cut down on making mistakes while trying to do too much. They combined for 34 points, but also 7 turnovers. In a 5 point game, 7 wasted possessions becomes huge.
- We had a couple of turnovers when a big picked up their dribble near half court and nobody came back to help them. Guys need to be more aware in situations like that.
- Officiating. Please. It seemed like some home cooking was going on. A few marginal calls makes all the difference in a game like that.
Obviously turnovers were the big story in the game. As well as Texas played in the second half, we played them even 39-39. A lot of guys stepped up, and we should be proud of our team regardless.
Now let's take a look at the Kansas game. Kansas is an interesting team. Obviously everybody thought they'd have a down year because they lost so many players off their championship team. However, I think people underestimate Bill Self's talent as a coach.
Kansas plays at a similar pace to the Sooners. Their top players include Sherron Collins (18.0ppg 5.0apg) who was their most notable returning player, and Cole Aldrich (15.0ppg 10.3rpg). Obviously Aldrich is a force in the middle and if Blake Griffin is not available, then we will need to figure out a way to neutralize his interior presence.
The Jayhawks tend to struggle against teams with a lot of talent who plays man defense or matchup zone and will press and agressively defend. Their best win was probably at home against Washington. Then again, most of their good wins game at home. On a neutral or road court, their best win was probably Kansas State or Nebraska. Basically, they aren't very road tested.
I'm going to assume that Blake won't play (we still don't know either way though), and say that the keys to the game will be using our advantages. Pattillo, Taylor Griffin and Ryan Wright will need to have huge games limiting the offensive glass for Aldrich. We need to use our experience and athleticism to play an aggressive defense and take advantage of the inexperience of some of their players. Note: the Jayhawks have a turnover% of about 22.4, good for 267th in the country (source: KenPom.com). Their young guys struggle against a pressing defense and against a team that will run you. While our guards would need to have good games and knock down their open shots, I think it's also going to be key for our bigs to go right at Aldrich and get him in foul trouble.
That being said, Kansas has a lot of great athletes too. They have a great defense. We are going to need to be disciplined and let AJ set up our offense a lot (the guy simply doesn't turn the ball over very much).