Another day, another major nod for Blake Griffin. The Sooner sophomore Wednesday was named SI.com Player of the Year. "The Terminator led the nation in rebounding and was the clear choice for Player of the Year,” according to the Web site. Griffin was joined on the first team by North Carolina’s Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough, Louisville’s Terrence Williams and Pitt’s DeJuan Blair. John Calipari of Memphis was named Coach of the Year.
Executive decisionIn his bracket for ESPN, President Barack Obama on Tuesday picked OU to lose to Syracuse in the South Regional semifinals and said, "They have the player of the year, but they only play like seven guys. I think they’re going to get worn down.” OK, Jeff Capel. Would you like to comment on American economic policy? "I’ll let President Obama stick to running the country, and I’ll try to (coach) my team to the best of my ability,” Capel said with a smile.
Entertaining SoonersOU ended its 40-minute practice session at the Sprint Center with a series of trick shots. Austin Johnson sank a shot from the opposite free-throw line. Willie Warren made a halfcourt bank shot by (intentionally) bouncing the ball off the floor. Beau Gerber made a halfcourt shot with his back to the basket by flipping the ball over his head one-handed. But the biggest cheers were reserved for Blake Griffin’s dunks. At the onset of the workout, Griffin went up for a fastbreak basket — and gently laid in the ball without touching the rim, much to the dismay of the 500 or so fans in attendance.
Ironic assignmentMorgan State coach Todd Bozeman is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since being placed on 10 years probation for rules violations while coaching at California. Ironically, Cal also was assigned to the Kansas City site. "I suppose that to some people, there would be some irony there,” said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, who coached arch-rival Stanford while Bozeman was at Cal. "To me, it couldn’t be less of an issue. He got caught in an unfortunate situation ... from a humanistic standpoint, I’m happy to see he’s rebounded and got back in and now able to get his team to a tournament.”
Fresh meatOU has seen the last of its Big 12 opponents, at least until the Final Four, and that might be a good thing for Griffin. Big 12 defenses have thrown the kitchen sink at trying to stop him. "I’m always excited to see a different team,” Griffin said. "As a whole team, we’re excited to play outside of our conference.”
Return to SprintOU went 1-1 in the 2008 Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center. Any comfort in having played here before? "I guess,” said Taylor Griffin. "I mean a gym is a gym. I really like this place. It’s a really, really nice place. You know, I guess it is nice to not have surprises when you walk in the door.” BY BERRY TRAMEL AND JOHN HELSLEY