[Edit by cuppettcj, 12/22/08 11:31 AM EST] Apparently, my assumption that Eric Maynor is nowhere near NBA level talent was off-base. I was surprised to see his name listed late in the first round on DraftExpress. Of course, this is shaping up to be a shallow draft, but I would like to think that if he gets drafted in the first round he might make it in the NBA as a backup guard. One can hope.
My first opportunity to watch Blake Griffin turned out to be a surreal one on Saturday, as Oklahoma hosted the Virginia Commenwealth Rams. It was surreal not only because the game was against my alma mater, but also because I had forgotten that Jeff Capel coaches the Sooners, and his first head coaching gig was with the Rams, who he led to an NCAA berth several years back. Not to mention the fact that this game was nationally televised, which almost never happens for regular season VCU games.
Anthony Grant now coaches VCU, and I believe he has done a very good job at maximizing the production of his players. Eric Maynor is definitely a talent, but nowhere near NBA-level. Yet the constant full-court press and effective zone defense Grant has implemented does a good job at flustering even good offenses. This was apparrent during the NCAA tournament games from two seasons ago, when VCU upset Duke and overcame a 20 point second half deficit to take Pitt to overtime in the round of 32.
So I'm watching my school take on the 4th ranked Sooners, and I'm amazed at how close the game was early. There were several ties and lead changes in the first half. Late in that half, the Sooners made a small run, led not by Griffin but by guard Tony Crocker. In the second half, the Sooners extended their lead by good 3 point shooting and what I feel were some home-town referee foul calls. Apparently, only the Sooners were allowed to play physical. The Sooners went to the line 34 times, and drew a whistle almost every time they drove the lane, which is how Griffin got 8 of his 18 points.
Overall, Griffin looked solid, but nothing wowed me about him. I suppose I can't fault him for that, since VCU collapsed very effectively on him every time he got the ball in the low post. Had there been a defensive 3 seconds rule in place, I doubt that VCU could have gotten away with the defense they played on him. Still, I had high expectations of Griffin, and I did not see him finish once through contact. Almost all of his field goals came from wide-open dunks, either in transition or when a slashing guard drew all defenders before dishing to him. He finished 5-8 from the floor with 7 rebounds (none of them offensive), 1 assist, 3 turnovers, and 4 fouls.
Anyone else see the game? It was televised Saturday night on ESPN2. Anything else worth mentioning?