Friday Face-off

I argued Blake Griffin:
Friday Face-off: Which player’s injury is more significant?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Whitney Hand

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams lost key players last week.

The men, which lost sophomore forward Blake Griffin to a concussion Saturday, lost their past two games after starting 25-1.

The women lost their first Big 12 game Monday against Texas A&M. It was also the OU’s first game without freshman guard Whitney Hand, who suffered a broken left index finger against Baylor.

Both players are crucial losses. But which injury hurts its team the most?

Griffin’s name jumps off the page, but Hand, OU’s starting guard, is an integral part of the Sooners’ squad.

Nobody can argue the difference in production between the two players—Griffin certainly wins there. But the most important factor is the length of each player’s injury, and that means the loss of Hand will hurt her team the most.

Hand had surgery on her finger a few days ago and is expected to be out at least four weeks. Nobody knows when Griffin will return, but although I’m not a doctor, I think it’s pretty safe to say he’ll return within the next week.

The women’s NCAA Tournament is about three weeks away, meaning Hand will most likely miss the first two rounds of the tournament and will definitely not be playing in the Big 12 tourney. Griffin, however, is pretty much a solid lock to play in the men’s conference tournament.

If the men lose a few games without Griffin, they can make up for it by winning the Big 12 tournament with him.

Without Hand, the women aren’t as likely to win the Big 12 tournament as they did a week ago. And if they aren’t the last ones standing in the Big 12, they’re likely to be a No. 2 or 3 seed.

It’s simple: The fact that Hand’s injury is going to keep her out of at least one, and probably two, NCAA tournament games means the loss of the freshman hurts the women’s squad more. As far as we know, Griffin could return as soon as tomorrow. And nobody reading this would bet that he was going to miss an NCAA tournament game.

-Eric Dama is a journalism junior.

Blake Griffin

A ship and a captain. A class and a professor. OU men’s basketball and Blake Griffin.

You can have one without the other, but it wouldn’t get you very far.

OU basketball without sophomore forward Blake Griffin just isn’t the same.

Sure, the Sooners have 13 other players, but OU needs the whole team.

Griffin’s concussion has knocked him out of the game for an unspecified amount of time, but like rock needs its roll, Sonny needed Cher and Boomer needs its Sooner, the men’s basketball team needs Griffin back.

Pre-injury, Griffin helped the Sooners obtain the best record in college basketball and put them in national title contender status. But Griffin’s concussion has considerably affected the Sooners’ future.

With the absence of college basketball’s leading Player of the Year candidate in matchups against Texas and Kansas, the Sooners lost two crucial games in a row, allowing the Jayhawks to grab the lead the Big 12. Even Kansas coach Bill Self admitted the absence of the Sooners’ main man created an incredible opportunity for the Jayhawks.

Although Griffin could possibly be joining his teammates Sunday in Lubbock, Texas, Monday night’s upset might last throughout the season if the Jayhawks win their final three games. Then it won’t even matter whether the Sooners beat the Red Raiders.

Although the Sooners’ chance of making it to the Big Dance is still certain, their seeding depends on Griffin’s recovery. The past two games have proven exactly that, and that’s a substantial impact.

Griffin’s expected return is still unsure, and a concussion’s recovery time varies from person to person. While other teams are crossing their fingers, hoping to avoid playing against the NBA’s future No. 1 draft pick, the uncertainty of Griffin’s status is unsettling to any anxious Sooner fan.

Even though freshman guard Willie Warren wowed the crowd with a team-high of 27 points against Texas, 22 points per game sitting on the bench is bound to alter the scoreboard.

Not that women’s basketball isn’t hurting without Whitney Hand. Undoubtedly an impressive player, Hand has proven to be a key component to the women’s team. But she is only a freshman and doesn’t hold the leader label that Griffin does.

Griffin not only leads his team, but the NCAA, too. The sophomore forward is the heart of Sooner basketball.

This isn’t to say that the Sooners can’t manage without Griffin. In the challenging games against Texas and Kansas, they demonstrated aggressiveness and maintained close scores. But the return of Griffin is greatly anticipated by everyone, and when he returns to the lineup he will continue to dominate.

Without Griffin, the Sooners are a great team. With him, the Sooners are Final Four contenders.

Just like every ship needs a captain to reach its destination, the Sooners’ need Blake Griffin to lead them in the NCAA Tournament.

-Claire Brandon is a journalism sophomore.

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