Hell Hath No Injury: Buckeye Blues
Oden & Co. from Buckeyeland just can’t catch a break (no pun intended).
One of the things you can count on if you have followed the Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team for the past four years is that there is going to be bonafide talent in the program. NBA-range talent that is justifiably true in the players that are exceptionally gifted and are able to make it big while on campus in Columbus, but damn it, you are going to have to suffer some privations — at least that’s the way it looks. I’m not one for jinxes and curses and things of that nature, because I think putting out concentrated negative energy is a deterrent from success and ill-willed, but you can’t help but wonder what the problem is with the stars from Ohio State since 2006. Coming off of the recent news that former OSU center, 2007 NBA No. 1 pick and current Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden is going to be sitting out for the rest of the season with a broken patella, it really puts into perspective how some of the current and mostly former Buckeyes have been dealing with in recent years.
We can start with Oden, whom we all know was already an elite center in his one season with the Buckeyes in ’06-07 with one and a half hands, didn’t catch a huge break with his arm first, then his leg and yada-yada-yada. Now coming up after what is probably the first rookie campaign to double as what is known to be the prerequisite year-long, post-microfracture surgery campaign, great Oden is down for the count again — and after what was a promising start for his first truly healthy year. It’s obvious that it’s a great loss for Portland, especially since they can’t seem to either make logical basketball decisions (like starting Rudy Fernandez, playing Brandon Roy at point guard, going uptempo, etc.) or respect their own conglomerate (Roy and Steve Blake’s silent hissy fits over Andre Miller being a starting guard, Coach McMillan’s repeated punkouts on making sound and definite lineup decisions) — Oden was the most stable thing in a Trail Blazer uniform, and now this. Such a shame.
Oden’s former set-up man in Mike Conley isn’t injured down in Memphis, TN, but he’s surely losing the battle of playing time and front office confidence. After having been a main reason why Allen Iverson was so acrimonious with the Grizzlies about being benched in favor of Conley, owner Michael Heisley recently was interviewed by the Memphis Grizzlies blog 3 Shades of Blue and said that he basically was disappointed in the young guard’s play. Not that being a Grizzly is a state of being that implies much player development, but Conley is looking like a bust, unfortunately, and so his ego and confidence are surely taking some serious bruises that can be measured as metaphysical injuries.
Meanwhile, NCAA star Evan Turner, currently the guard/forward of the ’09-10 Buckeye basketball squad, just fractured his lower back after a dunk attempt and will be out for two months — this after deciding to return for another year at Ohio State, despite being projected as a lottery pick for the 2009 NBA Draft. Turner was already averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds a game, playing everything from point guard to occasional power forward, so it’s truly a shame.
Kosta Koufos hasn’t really gotten many minutes in Utah and neither has Byron (The Artist Formerly Known as “BJ”) Mullens in Oklahoma City. It would be nice to see Daequan Cook come back fully from injury and help Dwyane Wade with the current load down in Dade County, but even that may be too much to ask right now. In short, if you’re in the NBA now or NBA-bound and you have a major affiliation with the university from 2006 right into the present day, chances are that you’re not doing too good at the moment (continue to count your blessings).
So, to Greg: Good luck and get well, young sir. If you continue to heal and work on your game as you have, you’ll be back with the best in no time. (I would suggest changing your shoes, though–the Nike Air Max shoes you’ve been wearing just aren’t doing it for you. Didn’t really do much for you last year, either. Maybe you should go back to wearing your OSU edition LeBron’s — you know? The shoes that you had your best game ever in, in the NCAA championship game…just go to the Nike campus and get some of those.)
To Mike Conley, Jr: Please, please, ask your dad/agent to get you a trade to a good organization. I’m not sure there’s much else to say. Play better, maybe? That’s not working — just ask for a trade instead, and get comfortable as a backup point guard. I don’t think it’ll be all that bad — just look at Antonio Daniels. He was actually from Columbus, was a bust with the Grizzlies after just one season (following being drafted with the 4th pick in 1997), and he went to the Spurs eventually and won a championship — see what a good trade can get you! Now go out there and be somebody…else!
To Evan: Don’t rush back, do whatever you need to return to your best state of health, and go forth.
To Kosta: Coach Sloan is just giving you the young big man’s treatment. It’ll blow over. In the meantime, shed some of the muscle bulk and convince the Jazz that you’re a shooting power forward, or perhaps keep your current profile and learn to be a little more proficient around the basket as a center, because that’s where you’ll get some good minutes in. I’m sure you’re already practicing with Mehmet, too.
To “Byron”: Don’t be Robert Swift. Or Saer Sene. Or Johan Petro. Or Jim McIlvaine for that matter (sorry, SuperSonics fans).
To Daequan: I remember when you were at Dayton Dunbar. I remember your takeover ability as a Buckeye, too. I hope you remember those good ol’ days and heal up good. As it turns out, D-Wade is best playing point guard at times during games, so keep that stroke finely tuned and hopefully Coach Spoelstra will give you the benefit of the doubt again.
To David Lighty, current OSU wing player and holdover from the ’07 Final Four team, presently returning from a broken foot from the previous collegiate season: You, sir, are the new hope. Remember the force within you (the same force that made you a breakout frosh two and a half years ago) and go forth as well. Godspeed!
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist and fitness enthusiast, as well as an unrepentant Prince fan (for real). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Associated Content and Twitter.