The Sooners are having a historic hoops season, and I thought I’d spend some of my time I should be doing something else by breaking down this team versus the team my senior year, the 1988 team that played for the national championship. Contrary to what some people may think, I was not around for the 1947 team that lost to Holy Cross in the NCAA finals.
Blake Griffin vs Stacey King – this isn’t even close. Stacey was a #6 draft pick and a three time world champion with the Chicago Bulls. However, those championships had more to do with that Jordan fellow, Horace Grant and Scott Pippen than Mr. King. Stacey just didn’t have the motor that Blake Griffin demonstrates. Griffin has better points per game, better rebounding stats and a higher FG%. In defense, King played against more formidable big men in his days in the Big 8. But Blake wins this head to head by a long shot. Advantage: 2009
Austin Johnson vs Ricky Grace– I’ve enjoyed watching Austin Johnson develop his game over the past four years. However, he doesn’t hold a candle to my Theory of Basketball classmate, Ricky Grace. Ricky averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals per game in 1987-88. Austin is a averaging 9 points per game, 3 boards, 4 assists per game and 1 steal. Grace was a better three point shooter and had a higher shooting percentage overall. Advantage: 1988
Willie Warren vs Mookie Blaylock – Willie Warren is a phenomenal talent. He’s averaging 15 points per game, shooting 39% from 3 point land, and is shooting 500% overall. He has huge upside, and I’m looking forward to watching him play next year, and hopefully beyond. In a 88-09 matchup, he’d have a definite height advantage (6-4 to 6-0) over the Mook, but that’s about the only advantage he has against my Theory of Basketball classmate, Mookie Blaylock. In that magical 1988 season, The Mook averaged nearly 4 steals per game and had 13 steals in a game against Centenary. Mookie averaged 6 assists a game, 16 points per game and made 39% of his 3 pointers. To opponents he was a defensive nightmare, always picking off errant passes or lax dribbling. Mookie was a #12 pick by the New Jersey Nets and averaged over 10 points per game for 12 years in the NBA. Advantage: 1988
Taylor Griffin vs Harvey Grant – Harvey was skinny, a 6-8, 195 pounder. As an All-American, he averaged 21 points a game and 9.4 rebounds in 1988, and made 55% of his shots. I love Taylor Griffin, but he doesn’t match up well with Harvey, in spite of his 40 pound weight advantage. Taylor makes right at 50% of his shots, but it seems like many of his makes are dunks or layups after fab passes by his brother. He doesn’t have much of an outside shot, but he can jump out of the building. Harvey had a smoother outside stroke, was more gifted athletically, and was quicker. Advantage: 1988
Tony Crocker vs Dave Sieger – Sieger was a 3 point shooter averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds per game. Crocker averages 10 points per game and 3.5 rebounds. Crocker is better at creating his own shot, but Sieger averaged 3.5 assists per game. Advantage: 1988
Juan Patillo vs Andre Wiley –I have to give the nod to Patillo here, who’s quicker and more versatile. The stats don’t’ compare right now, as Patillo just came out of redshirt a couple of weeks ago. However, I have to tell you a story about my Theory of Baseball class I took with Ricky Grace and Andre Wiley. Wiley has a 6-7ish power forward. He could jump and he could dunk. He also could jump and dunk. Other skills, not so much. His jump shot had a sideways rotation. Anyway, the OU pitching coach at the time, I believe it was Stan Meek, was teaching the class. He was talking about pitching, and explaining the rotation of a curve ball, how the spin eventually overcame the forward motion and made the ball curve. At that point, Ricky interrupted, “That sounds like one of Andre’s free throws.” Advantage: 2009
Billy Tubbs vs Jeff Capel: It’s tough to compare Capel to Tubbs. Capel is more of a technician, I believe, while Tubbs was more of a “here’s what we do, try and stop us”. Tubbs teams seem to have more of a killer instinct, as I don’t see the present day Sooners putting many teams away. Advantage: Push
Overall: The 88 team was one of the best in NCAA history. It had three lottery picks on it, played at a frenetic pace and lost the NCAA final to a team it had beaten three times previously. They played in a league that placed three teams in the Elite Eight, the Sooners, the Jayhawks, and the Kansas State Wildcats, led by Mitch Richmond. The bench, albeit lightly used by Tubbs, had lots of athletic talent, including Tony Martin and a pre knee injury Terrence Mullins. The current team plays in a 3 guard lineup and rarely plays in a conventional 2 guard, 2 forwards and a center lineup. Strangely, the Sooners are one of the bigger teams in the Big 12 right now, but would be outsized by the 88 Sooner team. Advantage: 1988
This Sooner team is poised to make a run deep into the tourney, but I don’t see three lottery picks on this edition. But I do see a chance to bring home the first Sooner hoops title in history.