I could not hesitate to include this video in the blog, because A) it is a spectacular play by a college baseball player rather than a pro, and B) it involves my alma mater, Northeastern University. Kenny Burns of Rhode Island University goes back, back, back- and THROUGH the wall! He somehow holds onto the ball as the matting of the outfield wall collapses under his force. Impressive play indeed. Some added amusement comes after the catch as he and the othe outfielder attempt to put the wall back together.
It was an inevitable announcement, as the nation watched Blake Griffin play like a giant amongst dwarfs in his sophomore year at Oklahoma. Griffin shot .654 from the field in 2008-09, averaging 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds for a Sooners team that almost rode him to the Final Four. Now, he projects as the #1 pick in this June’s NBA Draft. Griffin is a prototypical power forward, although he has the size to play center if need be. He will eventually put up similar numbers that he did in Oklahoma for whatever NBA team lands the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft lottery. He’s a monster in the paint, a relentless rebounder, and tireless worker. He is simply head and shoulders above the rest of the 2009 draft class.
Griffin was a unanimous selection for the Associated Press All-American Team, and took home the 2009 Naismith Award for the Nation’s outstanding college basketball player. Stephen A. Smith recently talked to several experts who predict Griffin to be a superstar in the NBA. Most seem to believe this kid is a blue-chipper, and considering his scoring and rebounding ability combined with his size and athleticism, it’s almost impossible to disagree. Obviously any team could use him in their lineup, but out of the teams with the best chances to get the #1 pick- that is, the bottom five teams in the NBA standings- Sacramento and Oklahoma City look like the best places for Griffin, as those teams lack an impact presence at power forward and/or center. The Washington Wizards, however, have the best odds of landing him. A big 4 of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Butler could make them an instant contender.
Here are some highlights from his press conference:
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Others have declared their eligibility for the NBA Draft, including Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks, and Arizona’s Chase Budinger. Those three also project as first-round picks. But make no mistake about it: Griffin leads the pack by a country mile.
To see what everyone is talking about, check out the below video for some highlights from Griffin’s time as a Sooner.
March Madness has been typically exciting this year, with its fair share of surprises and upsets. The biggest one yet has to be the Michigan State Spartans, who despite being a #2 seed were not seen as a big challenge to #1-seeded Connecticut. Michigan State pulled out the hard-earned victory, in small part to this big-time play from Durrell Summers. Already with an eight-point lead, the Spartans add to it as Summers soars and dunks right over Stanley Robinson of UConn.
This is why I wish swearing was allowed on TV. There would be an entire library of videos dedicated to press conference meltdowns, just as this one by Jim Calhoun posted to YouTube last summer. Ones like this where the F-word is said several times would have a tough time making it on the air, but hearing them uncensored is always fun. It’s great for us sports fans to be reminded from time to time that these guys are also human. They are capable of error, just as Calhoun was for not keeping Ryan Gomes who went to rival Providence and had a great college career. Kudos to Calhoun for tooting his own horn about Emeka Okafor and Caron Butler and not taking this Courant writer’s grief over one missed recruit.
WARNING: LANGUAGE COULD BE INAPPROPRIATE FOR YOUNGER VIEWERS
“Fuck” Count: 7
Okay, I guess this wouldn’t really qualify as a dunk, since it’s just an attempt, but it’s too amusing not to highlight. Tyler Hansbrough is one of the most tenacious players in the history of college basketball, certainly at North Carolina, but he isn’t exactly known for being too graceful…And here, I guess he assumes his arms are five feet long as he attempts a dunk from way too far away. If he didn’t really intend to dunk, he wouldn’t have hucked the ball at the rim like that. He slams it so hard it bounced all the way past half court. Well, with a 21-point lead I guess it’s worth a shot!
Was it even necessary for Billy Gillespie, who was fired as Kentucky Wildcats coach Friday, to mention that he regrets not winning more games? I’m pretty sure that’s the main reason most coaches are fired in the first place. Kansas went 40-27 in two seasons under Gillespie, who was hired to replace Tubby Smith and hopefully restore prominence to a program that hadn’t made the Final Four since 1998 when they won the National Championship.
Things obviously didn’t go according to plan, and Gillespie was cut loose. What caught reporters off guard was his unusually cheerful behavior at today’s press conference, in which he cracked jokes about his unemployment and exhibited no hard feelings toward the basketball program at Kentucky, one of the most storied in history. He seems to be understanding of the very high standards to which he was held by the Wildcats, and perhaps aware that his firing was imminent. He seems too understanding to not be hiding some disappointment. But nonetheless, this is what Gillespie was quoted as saying today:
“I’m not a woe-is-me kind of person…I’ve always said this, show up every day, try to work hard, try to do your best with the right attitude and everything works out right. I’ve had a great time here at Kentucky.”
Here’s an amusing video (courtesy of Deadspin) circulating the web of Gillespie trying to escape a reporter who follows him for what seems like miles. It’s pretty obvious that he’s not really on the phone; not that the reporter would care anyway. It gets pretty comical at the end when they start running.
What Other Bloggers are Saying About This Story:
Speaking of having a future in World Wrestling Entertainment…Ameer Ali executes a perfect arm drag takedown on Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin in Thursday’s opening-round contest of the NCCA tournament between 2-seeded OU and 15-seeded Morgan State. The problem is, this is basketball and not wrestling, so Ali was immediately ejected for the blatant move. Griffin didn’t have a problem with it, and wisely walked right away as soon as he got up. Oklahoma was up 16 at the time and won 82-54 on the strength of Griffin’s dominant performance: 31 minutes, 28 points on 11-of-12 shooting, 13 rebounds. When he’s done with basketball, perhaps Ali should take up some training time with Afa the Wild Samoan…
Ali told NewsOK that the move was just a “misunderstanding.” Sure, and Griffin is going to fall to 20th in the NBA draft this year. MouthPiece Sports chalked it up to everyone’s strategy this season on Blake Griffin, to “beat the eff out of him.” And Deadspin felt it was necessary, for a 15-seed like Morgan State to show some moxie.
University of Wyoming redshirt-freshman Adam Waddell should at least be thankful he can still walk after this play. It’s being advertised on the web as a “backflip dunk.” But what really happened was Waddell had so much momentum going to the basket his legs kept going as he held onto the rim, causing him to flip backwards and very nearly land directly on his head, which could have paralyzed or killed him. He’s lucky to still be alive, let alone unscathed by this accident.
Now if he landed on his feet, maybe we’d be talking about the greatest dunk ever. But for now, we can talk about this awkward-looking play by a kid who might think twice about going in so hard for a dunk next time. Or maybe he’ll just practice his landings…