NORMAN In five years, of course, there will be eight zillion Okies claiming they were right there the week of Dec. 6-11 when the stepchildren at the University of Oklahoma became everybody's darlings.
Already the crowd has grown from 4,523 to 430,000 claiming they were present the night Wayman Tisdale made confetti of the OU basketball scoring record. And before another week has passed, there will be 500,000 and not the actual 5,280 who will say they were there Saturday when the Sooners scored the most points in their history.
The Oklahoma basketball covered bandwagon is just beginning to roll.
It's jump aboard or be crushed beneath the spoked wheels. And from the looks of the situation, those wishing to hang on to the Tisdale Express could eventually vie with the throng of sunshine patriots who follow the autumn bounces of the wishbone Sooners.
Wayman Tisdale is that good, and basketball, despite the apathetic rich guys from the oil patch who have bought up all the tickets, is that appealing. There is ample room for more than one sport at OU, and with Tisdale and Billy Tubbs leading the way, the "winter pastime" between football and spring football will eventually get there.
Look, for instance, at the results of this week alone. On a Monday night game against an overmatched small college team, the 6-9 Tisdale scores 51 points, which is not only the best of his brief collegiate career, but the most points he's ever scored in a game and the most ever for a Sooner.
It was only his fourth game and with a minimum of 100s to go, Tisdale may hit 50 another dozen, even two dozen nights. At OU, he is the Way Man.
And as a consequence of the 6-9 franchise, his Sooner teammates can't help but benefit. Look at Saturday for instance.
The West Texas State Buffaloes probably figured to end up as dried chips, but they were determined the 18-year-old rookie wouldn't make them waste material. The Buffs packed their zone tighter than a pair of designer jeans and dared No. 23 to get the basketball.
But Tisdale's famine meant a feast for others. Five Sooners hit double figures as the Boomers plowed under the Missouri Valley also-rans by 32 points. The 117 total represents Oklahoma's all-time scoring record, and with Tisdale around it may be broken more often than expensive china.
Charles Jones, who plays like he's in the "Big Time" when Tisdale's playing a few feet away, scored 21 and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Chucky Barnett shook his scoring slump with 27 and Bo Overton cracked the school assist record by handing out 13.
The Buffs' lone consolation was that Tisdale hadn't done it to them.
"Tisdale's a tough player," said the Buffs' Goliath Yeggins, who fell to the Sooners' inside assault as if David had nailed him with a rock. "But I'm not out there grading players. We play some tough teams and Tisdale's still just a freshman."
The Buffs took on one of the nation's toughest in their season opener, losing by 15 to Memphis State. Keith Lee, the Tigers' franchise, scored 25 points, had 17 rebounds and blocked four shots.
Comparing Tisdale to Lee, said Goliath, was not really fair.
"I wouldn't compare Tisdale to Antoine Carr (Wichita's 6-8 senior) either," said Yeggins. "But I wouldn't want to play Tisdale in a couple of years."
Neither will a lot of teams. At one point in the fading minutes of the scrambling laugher Saturday, OU had 6-10 Jones, 6-8 freshman Jerome Johnson and 6-9 Tisdale on the floor. That put Tisdale on a wing, 15 feet from the bucket.
"I loved it," said the enthusiastic rookie. "Coach Tubbs wants me to learn to play out there. I feel like I can shoot away from the basket and I think it will help us."
Tisdale, of course, has the ability to play anywhere he likes. Only one other Sooner basketball player has come into the program with his reputation, 6-9 Alvan Adams. But Adams was strictly an inside player and Tisdale can be much more. He can even be the basketball equivalent to football's Marcus Dupree.
"Marcus and I have become good friends," said Tisdale. "I live on the second floor (of Jones House) and Marcus lives on the fourth floor.
He comes down to my room a lot and we do a lot of talking."
But Tisdale and Dupree are so unalike in personality, you'd guess the talkative Tisdale dominates all conversations with the shy Dupree.
"Not at all," said Wayman. "Marcus talks. He just doesn't like talking to reporters. But we talk a lot. He came to the game today."
And what would Wayman guess that Marcus, who also had a record-setting freshman year, might think of his performance.
"Same as I do," said No. 23. "I can do better."
Of course neither No. 23 nor his fans should expect Oklahoma basketball to have another week like this one. Well, not right away anyway. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 98180