As some of you know, I am a lucky bastard. That’s right while many of you will spend Thanksgiving with family, friends and freezing temperatures, I’ll be relaxing on the sun-splashed beaches of Maui, and occasionally attending games at the EA Sports Maui Invitational. This is the fourth year I’ve been to this tournament and if you ever have the chance to come out here, you need to take it. There are always some of the best teams in the nation, the venue is smaller than my high school gym and when you’re not watching basketball you’re in freaking Maui. Anyway, here are my impressions of and some photos from the early game today, that matched up Oklahoma and Memphis.
Oklahoma v. #11 Memphis
Memphis came out on top 77-65. Wow, this might have been the ugliest game I’ve ever seen. After 52 personal fouls you have to wonder if the officials are ever going to wake up and just let the kids play this year. I know all off-season they get told to clean up the game and all but come on guys, let some stuff slide. This early season has been hard to watch because the officials in basically every game have called so many fouls. As a former basketball player let me just tell you, it is incredibly hard to get into a rhythm and play well offensively when the game is constantly being stopped by whistles.
Both teams were incredibly undisciplined and Memphis’ superior athleticism won out in the end. John Calipari coaching a young, ridiculously athletic team with very little discipline? No way! Their athleticism is impressive but they rely on it far too much and that will get them in trouble down the road. So are you ready for the next guy that all the NBA experts are going to drool over because he’s “long,” “athletic,” and has “up-side?” He’s a sophomore for Memphis and his name is Robert Dozier, and he led Memphis with 13 points. At 6-9, 215 lbs, this kid looks more like a West African refugee than an NBA forward. But Dozier has hops and a 7’3 wingspan that will get him a job at the next level. Think of a really skinny, less skilled version of Tyrus Thomas. One Memphis player who did impress me was freshman forward Pierre Niles. Besides having a great name, this kid is big. At 6’8 285 lbs, with soft hands and some great post moves, he really reminds me of Sean May.
As for Oklahoma, it seems like first-year coach Jeff Capel has the team’s respect already, which is good. The 31-year-old is in control of his team, but unfortunately they aren’t in control of themselves. After a 20 turnover game, it’s going to be a long week for the Sooners. They have some talented freshmen in guard Tony Crocker and forward Keith Clark, and senior guard Michael Neal is one of the nation’s best three-point shooters (49.5% last year). Sophomore Taylor Griffin knows how to get to the hoop and is a solid rebounder, he had 16 points and 10 boards. Plus, they have a junior forward named Longar Longar …I wish I was making that up. Oklahoma has some nice pieces and if Capel can put it all together and they cut down on the mistakes, they could make a run in the Big XII.
I’ll be updating from here periodically throughout the day and week, so check back for updates. Also, I feel like I should report this, Rick Majerus did not show up for the early game. But Jabba the Hut came in wearing a Rick Majerus mask. Holy crap, I knew that guy was big but you really have no idea until you see him in person. I kept waiting for him to encase Dave O’Brien in carbonite, then put a leash on John Calipari and make him wear a gold bikini.