No moral victory for OU this time
OU’s Blakeless loss to Kansas was different than OU’s Blakeless loss to Texas. This one was not quite so encouraging.
First, losing at home is different than losing on the road. Losing at home, even without Griffin, is a worrisome thing. The Sooners rode an emotional wave early, then played flat for about 25 minutes of game time.
And second, OU’s starters didn’t seem to answer the call. Jeff Capel showed he certainly felt that way, benching Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson for the final 10 minutes while Cade Davis and Omar Leary led a late rally.
Johnson looked like he was physically impaired. He had back treatments before the game, and truth is he doesn’t practice much, protected so he can save his stamina for the game. Maybe Johnson was done in by the Big Monday format of playing Saturday-Monday. But that’s not a good sign for the NCAA Tournament, which is three weekends of a game-offday-game format.
The Sooners have to have Johnson playing well. He’s not a classic point guard, but he has been an effective point guard, and Monday night he wasn’t.
Griffin’s presence against Kansas was missed most on defense and rebounding. KU got way too many easy baskets, but think about these two defeats. Both came in large part because a sharpshooting guard got hot out of his mind, first Texas’ A.J. Abrams and then KU’s Sherron Collins.
Were the Sooner defenders reluctant to stretch out farther onto the perimeter, knowing Griffin was unable to defend the paint? You wouldn’t think so after the third or fourth swish by Abrams and Collins, but psychologically that could have made an impact.
Playing two high-profile games back-to-back without Griffin gives us a great light on these Sooners.
For instance, Willie Warren doesn’t need Griffin to shine, but Juan Pattillo does. Pattillo has struggled without Griffin. When Pattillo is asked to be more of an offensive threat than just cleaning up around the double-teaming of Griffin, Pattillo struggles on decision-making and execution. He’s still a wondrous shot blocker and will return to his dunking ways, I assume, when Griffin returns. But without Griffin, Pattillo needs work.
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