Gallon an enigma for OU
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, March 01, 2010
3/01/10 at 11:00 AM
NORMAN — There is mystery to Oklahoma freshman Tiny Gallon, and it includes whether he'll become an Oklahoma sophomore.
"If the decision is I do come back, hopefully we'll be a good team, a great team," he said Sunday, the eve of OU's Big Monday visit to Texas.
When can we expect a decision?
"Probably at the end of the season, around that time," he said.
You don't see too many freshmen averaging 10 points and eight rebounds leave college. But then, you don't see too many 6-9, 296-pound freshmen with the power to destroy backboards, as Gallon did at Gonzaga Dec. 31, and the touch to float in fadeaway jumpers as Gallon has occasionally done.
"When he puts his mind to it," fellow forward Ryan Wright said, "I don't think there's anyone that can guard him."
Wright, a senior who is among the most thoughtful players you'll find in any program, was asked what advice he would give Gallon as his career comes to a close.
"I would tell him that he still has a lot to learn. He has to keep being eager to work and develop," Wright said. "He has so much physical and natural ability, with his size and his quickness. I tell him all the time, 'You have to be willing to learn and willing to take coaching and willing to work on your game, and work hard.'
"There are times he's a little complacent, a little satisfied. It's all about having that drive all the time. I don't know what has to click in his head for him to do it all the time."
He's not the only Sooner wondering.
Asked Sunday how many ways he has tried motivating Gallon, coach Jeff Capel said: "A lot. And we'll continue to try, because he's talented."
Gallon has been one of college basketball's biggest teases. He opened his career with 18 points and 15 rebounds against Mount St. Mary's. He opened his Big 12 Conference career with a combined 30 points and 23 rebounds against Baylor and Oklahoma State. He just scored a career-high 23 points in OU's rematch with Baylor Saturday.
He also went six games, right after the Baylor-OSU combo, in which he registered double figures in scoring and rebounding just once.
Along the way, Capel has pressed all sorts of psychological buttons, from benching Gallon for all but 10 minutes of the first Texas game Feb. 6, to getting in Gallon's face in you-the-man fashion after a two-play burst against Kansas State Feb. 20, when the freshman followed a baseline swish with a hard drive and reverse finish.
And while there are signs Gallon is responding, Capel comes with a critical bottom line: "The really good players, you don't have to try to figure out ways to motivate them. Those guys are already motivated. That's what they do.
"That's the way (Gallon) should be all the time. And that's part of the process of learning how to be a really good player."
Capel says it's a process that can take even high school All-Americans like Gallon a year to figure out. Gallon himself shows signs of that recognition.
He talks about the need to get in better shape, and to kick his habit of silly early fouls.
He talks about earning Capel's trust and providing positive energy on the bench, a change from select games in which he has sat on the floor instead of a chair, and been but a casual observer to huddles.
"I didn't try to be a rotten egg on the bench or anything like that," Gallon said of OU's game at Kansas last Monday. "I just tried to help my teammates, tried to encourage them to keep fighting."
Guerin Emig 581-8355
Tiny Gallon is averaging 10.4 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, but he might leave OU after the season to go pro. Steve Sisney / The Oklahoman