Blake Griffin eager for first taste of Bedlam in Stillwater
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, January 26, 2009
1/26/09 at 3:31 AM
Related story: Grudge match
NORMAN — Blake Griffin spent the biggest night of his Oklahoma basketball team's season last year stuck in a dorm room.
"I was just It was It was awful," he remembered Sunday.
It was the night the Sooners stormed Stillwater and wrecked Oklahoma State's Senior Night, 68-56.
"I don't think anyone had us winning that game," said Tony Crocker, who dumped in a career-high 25 points, "because Blake was injured."
Griffin, OU's leading scorer and rebounder then as he is now, was three days removed from arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee. Doctors ordered him not just off the court, but off the team bus.
"I watched it with a couple of my friends just up in the dorm room," he said. "It was so nerve-racking."
When it was over, coach Jeff Capel sent him a text reading: "We did that for you, man. Can't wait to get you back for the next game."
That lifted Griffin's spirits. What will ultimately make him feel better, though, is finally stepping onto the floor at Gallagher-Iba Arena. It will happen tonight at 8 p.m.
"It's going to be interesting," Griffin said.
Averaging 22 points and an NCAA-high 14 rebounds, Griffin should be a force against the undersized Cowboys.
"He's dominant anyway," Crocker said. "With them being smaller, it should make it a lot easier for everyone."
Asked how he planned to handle Griffin, OSU coach Travis Ford said: "I don't know if you do handle him. He does so many impressive things to help this team win. ... I have not seen a better player in the country. I haven't, and I have pretty much seen everybody."
So the physical scale tips Griffin's way tonight. But that's just part of the reason he comes in practically drooling to play.
Griffin grew up attending his share of OSU games, particularly after Joe Adkins, a player Griffin's dad coached at Oklahoma City Marshall, joined the Cowboys.
"I loved that team back then," Griffin said.
He loved the building in which that team played, and the fans who made it one of the most imposing homecourt advantages in college basketball. That those fans will now aim their bitterness at him is practically a badge of honor.
"I love that," Griffin said. "I feel like that makes me play better, whenever the fans are yelling at me. It becomes a little more personal, especially when they say things that are personal. ...
"There and Kansas are two places I really wanted to play. I didn't get much of a chance last year at either place. So I'm definitely looking forward to it."
There was one scare, near the end of the first half of OU's victory over Baylor Saturday. Griffin went down in a heap after leading a fast break and sprained his left ankle.
"I think we all kind of held our breath," Capel said. "Once I saw that he was OK, it was a sigh of relief for me, for him, for everyone. I know how much this game means to people who've grown up in this state, to people from both universities. Blake didn't have a chance to play in Stillwater last year, so I know it's something he's excited about. We're excited to have him going with us."
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