For weeks, the talk of college basketball has been that the only near guarantee has been the quartet of number one seeds, which was looking to be Pittsburgh, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.
The Sooners were the quietest of the potential top seeds, steadily going about their business—until the other night, when its top-seeded dream took a shot to the head, literally.
Player of the Year candidate Blake Griffin was knocked out of the game in the first half against rival Texas, a game that the Sooners later lost 73-68.
Willie Warren, Oklahoma’s second-leading scorer (averaging over 15 a game) put the team on his back in scoring 27 points, but it simply wasn’t enough.
The loss of Griffin has proven to be simply too much, but hey, anytime you remove 22 points and nearly 14 boards a game, the roster isn’t going to be quite the same.
Griffin sat out Monday night’s game against Kansas, a game that Oklahoma also lost 87-78. But don’t get too excited by the score being close like the Texas setback; no, the Sooners were down twenty with just over ten minutes to go.
Either way, chalk it up as back-to-back setbacks for the Sooners, who now roll out the red carpet to the Jayhawks, leading to the top of the Big 12 conference standings.
So sit back OU fans and take a deep breath. This team was supposed to be that breath of fresh air, that happy-go-lucky surprise that would be the sweet piece of chocolate in comparison to the bitter pill that is the great Bob Stoops and his suffering BCS woes.
But now, that gentle giant of a superstar is feeling more woozy than Michael Phelps after one too many hits of his own.
And within the haze itself, it isn’t just a conference title falling by the wayside. It is also that golden opportunity at a number one seed in March Madness during a year that is filled with question marks, where borderline regional home court advantages are just that important.
They say winning is contagious. Well, my friends, losing is too.
While Griffin’s status remains iffy, the schedule isn’t getting any easier for the Sooners. Sure, they have Pat Knight’s Red Raiders next in line, and this bunch isn’t anything to write home about in 2009. But a few days later, Oklahoma travels to take on Missouri, the Big 12 surprise of the season, and a ranked team that has played well throughout the year.
If the losing freefall continues, even with Griffin, the Sooners will be placed on the backburner, only to hear the chant of “overrated” ringing in their heads.
So the real question going forward is when will Griffin be ready, as it can vary as to how long it takes a player to fully recover from a concussion. As for the Sooners themselves, they are a team that’s forced to adjust its game to a more perimeter-based attack, starring Willie Warren, who certainly has pulled his weight.
But more is needed.
Until then, it’s simply a dream season that has suddenly fallen into a nightmarish coma.