MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Blake Griffin can’t play much better than he already is in this NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Steve Lavin nonchalantly called Griffin Superman. Griffin’s feats are amazing; his numbers historic. Through two games, against outmanned foes, Griffin is averaging 30.5 points and 15.0 rebounds. To find a player who has reached those plateaus in a single NCAA Tournament, you might have to go back to Elvin Hayes. The Big E averaged 33.4 points and 19.4 rebounds in five games for the 1968 Houston Cougars. Griffin has made 25 of 32 shots through two games, for a percentage of .781. The single-tournament record is .788, by Duke’s Christian Laettner in 1989, achieved in five games but via only 33 shots. So there’s no question, as the Sooners prep to play Syracuse tonight in the South Regional semifinals, Griffin not only is the dominant player in these NCAAs, he might be the most dominant in many a moon. "There’s nothing really to say about him that everybody in this world doesn’t know,” said Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn. But Superman carries more weight upon those broad shoulders than even we thought. Metropolis counts on Griffin for more than points and rebounds. He’s got to be an inspiring leader, too. Part Elvin Hayes, part Martin Luther King. "One of the things I talked to Blake about before this tournament started was, he’s going to have to carry us and he’s going to have to be the example,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said Thursday at the FedExForum. Capel’s message: "You may have to put your arms around these guys and carry them with you. You may have to push them. Whatever it is you have to do.” Capel has Griffin’s sidekick, older brother Taylor, on board. The truth is, asking Blake Griffin to be more productive is goofy. It’s la-la land to ask for more than 30 points and 15 rebounds. But Taylor Griffin said Little Bro has been and can be even moreso a bastion of stability. A rock. An island of strength. "The biggest thing for him right now is making his teammates better,” Taylor said. "That’s what great players do, and that’s what we need him to do. Instilling confidence in the rest of the guys. Being a strong leader. Being confident in himself. Just doing what he does, playing hard.” It must be comforting to play alongside a guy who posts numbers like this. Griffin’s season-long averages are 22.5 (points) and 14.4 (rebounds). But to advance in this lion’s den of a basketball tournament, the Sooners can’t just ride Griffin. They must march beside him. "You have to have a balanced team to win six games in a row,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "You’re not going to win with one guy.” Boeheim should know. Everyone thinks Carmelo Anthony carried Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship. Not so. Anthony was great in the Final Four — 53 points, 24 rebounds — but he wasn’t Superman throughout that tournament. Anthony’s totals for six NCAA Tournament games: 20.2 points a game, 9.8 rebounds, 47.5 percent shooting. "Carmelo had a couple games where he wasn’t even a factor,” Boeheim said, including a 13-point outing against Oklahoma State when Syracuse rallied from a 17-point deficit. So book it. Blake Griffin will not carry the Sooners to an NCAA title or even a Final Four. He might lead them, but he won’t carry them. He’s got to have some help. "I don’t put any pressure on myself,” Griffin said. "I don’t believe in that. I know my teammates have my back. I haven’t done anything by myself this whole year, and I never will.” So Willie Warren and Austin Johnson and Taylor Griffin will have to play the roles of Billy McNamara and Hakim Warrick and Kueth Duany, Anthony’s lieutenants in that 2003 Syracuse run. No riding on Superman’s cape. But maybe you can fly in his wake. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.
Tramel BLOG: Memphis has not been kind to OU 2-OU vs. 3-Syracuse
→When: 6:27 p.m. today →Where: FedExForum, Memphis →TV: KWTV-9 (Cox 10) →Radio: KOKC-AM 1520 →Live blog: newsok.com/ncaatournament