By Bryan Jeon
It has been so frustrating to watch Greg Oden during March Madness; he has had at least four personal fouls in the last four games now, averaging under 21 minutes per game in the last three, and the question to ask now might not be if he’ll be in foul trouble for Monday night’s championship game against the Florida Gators but how long he’ll play in the first half before he picks up his second foul.
Just two minutes and 44 seconds into the game, the much-hyped matchup of big men between 7’0″ Oden and 7’2″ Roy Hibbert was broken up, as Oden walked over to the bench to sit out the rest of the first half. (All you commentators, reporters and writers are liars if you add that he walked off the court in disappointment and frustration because his forehead wrinkles and lack of emotion always give off the impression that he’s sad and down).
From there, Oden’s high school teammate and childhood friend, Mike Conley Jr. took over the first half with his unmatched, quick first step for uncontested layups and his ability to throw up 10-foot floaters in stride with either hand, to actually give the Ohio State Buckeyes a four-point advantage heading into the break, where they would obviously go on to win the game, 67-60.
Did you know freshmen Oden and Conley Jr. have a 26-game win streak in the postseason, 21 from high school and 5 in this tournament? Just a disclosure, I have OSU going all the way in my bracket.
Needless to say, when Oden is on the court, he is a grown man playing among boys. It’s effortless for him to grab every board and when he’s in the paint, it’s best just to move out of the way with his resemblance of Shaquille O’Neal‘s power and execution. With the solid all-around cast including Ron Lewis, Jamar Butler and David Lighty, I see the Gators finally meeting their match and falling to the Buckeyes in a title game revenge match from the football field, but not without mentioning the importance in the amount of time Oden needs to be on the floor.
I don’t see Conley Jr. and the gang holding down their own without Oden against Florida. These two teams met once this season on December 23, with the Buckeyes getting humiliated, 86-60 and Oden a non-factor with four fouls in the game. Look for OSU head coach Thad Matta to have something up his sleeve like his 4 guard run-and-gun domination against the Hoyas when Oden was out, but Oden will need to be on the floor for at least 35 minutes in this one for the Buckeyes to finish their season on a 23-game win streak.
Image courtesy of AP Photo.