I think it’s safe to say last night’s broadcast of the Lawrence North – Poplar Bluff game was a bit of a dud. It was certainly an entertaining game, but that’s not why ESPN decided to show a high school game. They wanted to see Greg Oden go off. If Tyler Hansbrough also happened to put up huge numbers, all that much better. While both players had good halves, neither played like LeBron James did two years ago. And therein lies the problem. I’m not against high school games being shown nationally, but I do worry about the risk to the players. For the hyped up stars, you run the risk of being called overrated or a bust nationally if you don’t perform as expected. What about the 5’2” 105 kids that are on every high school roster? Do we need to see their shots blocked into the second balcony? What LeBron did in his ESPN performances set the bar unrealistically high for everyone that follows. With all the pressure these kids have on them already, I wonder if it’s worth it to heap more on their still growing backs. I’m sure all efforts will be made to get Lawrence North on national TV again before Oden leaves.
Hansbrough is a total stud. He also has the look of a crazed killer in his eyes. I think he’ll do nicely with a coach like Roy Williams, who demands complete buy-in to the system. I think it’s safe to say he started the game a little ticked that he was barely mentioned in the lead-up to the contest. Can’t say I blame him.
Thank goodness Oden got loose in the second half and gave viewers what they expected, five dunks. That’s the curse of being 7′ tall and so young. People expect you to dunk all night. He could have scored 40, but if he did it on hook shots and jumpers, people would have called him soft. He is a joy to watch, though, because you can tell he cares about being part of a team and, like most 16 year olds, his game is flawed. As much as I enjoy watching great players, I also enjoy seeing someone like Oden who has so far to go to become great, but you can see the learning/developing process taking place.
Biggest impression from watching the game was how tall Oden is. I think people who regularly watch basketball lose perspective of height. We’re so used to 6’8” guys running around that they seem to be normal. Guys who are 6’4” seem short, even though I’d be looking up ever so slightly at them. Seeing Oden stand next to guys who were 5’7” or so put into perspective how huge the kid is.
Tonight’s local broadcast includes Duke-bound Josh McRoberts from right here in Carmel. M. cooperating, I hope to see him healthy for the first time since I moved to Indy.