There have been few college basketball players that have been more impressive this season than Oklahoma sophomore forward Blake Griffin. Sooners coach Jeff Capel said that there also have been few players that have been a victim of as many cheap shots as Griffin.
On Dec. 4, Southern California freshman forward Leonard Washington was ejected from a game against Oklahoma after he blatantly hit Griffin in the groin. On Saturday, Utah junior guard Luka Drca picked up a flagrant foul in the second half against the Sooners after he stuck his foot in front of Griffin and tripped him near halfcourt. Both incidents occurred in games that were being nationally televised. Capel said it should be noted that many other cheap shots have not been caught.
“Obviously I go back and watch tape after every game and watch it several times,” Capel said in Monday’s Big 12 Conference coaches teleconference. “I think the kid gets fouled just about every possession on the floor whether you’re blocking out to rebound and getting pushed in the back, getting pushed when he’s up in the air. Obviously you have the incident where he was hit below the belt and the incident the other day when he’s tripped, and both incidents you hear that they’re accidents, but it’s not an accident.”
Capel also said the referees handled both situations as well as possible, but that those types of plays are still uncalled for.
“It’s just something that shouldn’t be in the game,” Capel said.
Cheap shots have hardly had a negative impact on Griffin’s game. He leads the country in rebounding with 15.1 rebounds per game. He also ranks third in the nation in scoring with 23.1 points per game.
HARRIS IMPROVING: Oklahoma State senior guard Terrel Harris was briefly suspended from the team last April for violating unspecified team rules. But Harris was reinstated in August and first year Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said Harris returned to campus with a renewed energy.
“I first started noticing it when he got back to school,” Ford said. “And we were going through preseason conditioning, and he was winning every single drill and he seemed extremely focused.”
Harris has improved his numbers across the board this season. He is averaging 15.9 points this season, which is up more than five points from last season. Ford said NBA scouts have started to notice.
“We have a lot of NBA scouts come through here to watch practice and do some things,” Ford said. “And they all end up leaving loving Terrel because he is 6-4 and can really shoot off the dribble, can catch and shoot threes and he has the ability to be a defensive stopper. He just needs more consistency with that.”
HIGGINS, STAIGER HONORED: Colorado sophomore guard Cory Higgins was honored as the Big 12 Conference Player of the Week after he scored a career-high 33 points in the Buffaloes’ 75-56 victory over Colorado State. He scored 28 of those in the second half.
Iowa State freshman Lucca Staiger was named the Big 12 Conference Rookie of the Week after averaging 16.5 points in the Cyclones’ games last week against Drake and Iowa. Staiger scored a career-high 24 against Drake, including a career-best eight 3-point field goals. He tied a Big 12 record by making six consecutive 3-pointers.