I do apologize for the “Rocky” reference, but this one really was like a brawl. Maybe I should have mentioned Holyfield or hey, Gerry Cooney. At times not pretty, but always on the edge of exploding into something like a BCS Bowl, defense ultimately made the difference in Missouri’s 41-31 win over Oklahoma State. It took more than four hours to play out, but it was worth it for football fans (except those of OSU) who are frothing at the bit in anticipation of next year’s NCAA football championship game which will be played at this same stadium in Arlington, Texas.
No long description is needed of this one. For three-plus quarters the OKC Thunder was a very, very good basketball team and head and shoulders better than the Portland Trail Blazers. But in the 4th, the Blazers raised their level of play – and the Thunder stumbled, and Portland pulled out a 98-94 comeback win. Kevin Durant had 37 and 14 boards, but missed a shot he admitted he should have made that would have sent the game to overtime. OKC and Portland play at Chesapeake Arena January 21st. The Thunder and Blazers still have the two best records in the west (San Antonio is tied with Portland, a half game back of OKC for the best Western Conference mark.)
I say – listen to Scott Brooks and Kevin Durant – who manned up and took responsibility for the loss, which they did not go overboard in feeling sorry about. Mature attitudes – a mature team, who gave credit to a good Portland team they may see in the closing days of the post-season.
The 7th ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys dug their collective heels into the outmanned Hornets of Delawaree State, winning 75-43 to improve to 10-1 on the college basketball season. Coach travis Ford’s team enjoyed flexing their muscles – and clearing off the bench – in a win that kicks off OSU’s academic break.
Le’bryan Nash and Markel Brown each had 14 points to lead the balanced attach, as 9 different Cowboys had at least one assist. The next game will undoubtedly be a much bigger challenge for the Pokes… as they travel to Las Vegas and squaree off against Colorado Saturday night… the Buffs moved up to 20th in the A-P Poll after muscling past OSU’s biggest Big 12 rival, Kansas.
In the latter weeks and months of a professional sports season, the concept of “the grind” is cliche. The long professional sports seasons take physical tolls on every team, regardless of the sport. So in a sense, it’s obvious to make such a claim late in the year.
Great teams, championship professional teams, however, understand the grind is a year-long process. Managing the grind in November is perhaps even more important to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s championship hopes than any of those late-season off days that Derek Fisher or even the minutes monster Kevin Durant will be given by head coach Scott Brooks.
Case in point: Sunday night’s visit from the woeful Utah Jazz to Chesapeake Energy Arena, game three of a six game home stand that spans the Thanksgiving holiday. Russell Westbrook, still regaining his conditioning after overcoming major off-seaosn knee surgery, was given the night off. Derek Fisher, the 100-year-old backup point guard, played Westbrook’s minutes early, then took a seat. (OK, relax – he’s only 39. Geez.)
The Jazz played along, looking a lot like a D-league team for the better part of three quarters in OKC’s 95-73 win. The Thunder led 75-43 after three quarters.
Here are some things that help at this – or any time – of a long season. Kendrick Perkins got to play hard, early. The big center has been grieving over the death of his grandfather, and in the opening half he and the Thunder as a team were dominant in the paint. It didn’t matter that Perkins was mostly racking up fouls. He played lane-spacing defense and showed his scowl for a bit, and I’m sure those 21 minutes helped him focus on hoops.The Thunder outrebounded Utah 46-33 and shot 50.7 percent from the floor.
We mentioned Fisher and his early 9:29 of court time, but more importantly Steven Adams stayed on the floor for extended stretches, something the young player needs to gain - and earn – confidence when the grind games roll around later in the year.
And then there is Perry Jones, the former Baylor Bear now in his 2nd season. the 6-11 Jones made the most of 19 minutes, hitting 5 of 7 from the floor including three of three from the three point line, scoring a season high 13 points. It’s tough to prove to your coach and teammates you can help down the stretch when you’re a forward playing behind Kevin Durant.
Of course, Durant led the team – and the game – with 19 easy points. The Thunder improved to 9 and 3, with three more home games, including two sandwiching Thanksgiving Wednesday night against the Spurs and Friday versus Golden State.
Listen to Sports Talk on KOSU-FM Wednesday morning at 6:30 am (and throughout the morning). Here’s the wrap from the Thunder-Utah game as heard on KOSU, plus some extra cuts from the post-game. .
Newsok.com/The Oklahoman beat writer Darnell Mayberry reports all-star guard Russell Westbrook will return to the OKC Thunder lineup tonight at home against Phoenix.
Here’s Darnell’s story:
I will be at the game tonight and will file updates.
Originally posted on Postcards from The Web:
I had the opportunity to take a few friends visiting to Oklahoma as part of the Bangladesh Professional Media exchange program, sponsored by the State Department and coordinated by Gaylord College at OU. I am still processing the life lessons learned on my trip to Dhaka a few months ago. In their trip to the US, I hope they are experiencing at least some level of the same profound love I enjoyed. And for all of our group who got a tour of the arena where the NBA Thunder play as well as treated to their first professional hockey game by the OKC Barons, it was a night to remember. My favorite part? The note at the bottom of this entry I got today from my friends who went to the game, saying thank you….
For the second straight game the Oklahoma City Barons (2-3-0-0) relied on their power play late, as Linus Omark wristed the game winner over the glove of Cristopher Nilstorp early in the first extra period for a 2-1 OT win. The game winner was technically an even-strength goal as a penalty had just expired.
Richard Bachman turned aside 22 shots in earning his first win of the season. The Barons outshot the Stars 16-3 in the third period but failed to score until the extra period with Omark’s first goal of the season.
OKC hosts a pair of games Friday and Saturday night at Cox Convention Center against the Abbotsford Heat, AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames.
Oklahoma City had earlier failed to cash in on a power play opportunity at 6:01 of the third. The Barons continue to struggle at even strength, outscored 9-4 through the first five games with the penalty boxes empty.
After killing off their 4th penalty through the first 50 minutes, the Barons seemed to find some energy, testing Nilstorp who made back to back stick side saves, including one on a point-blank rebound try by Matthew Ford.
The Texas Stars drew even at 4:32 of the third period when Colton Sceviour shoveled home a loose puck on the doorstep after his backhander hit the post and couldn’t be cleared by a sluggish OKC defense.
The Barons had a good chance in deep about a minute into the third, as Taylor Fedun found a closing Anton Lander, who’s wrist we was deflected top shelf-high by the shoulder of goalie Cristopher Nilstorp.
2nd Period Intermission
Just :50 in to the second period Andrew Miller’s power play goal gave the Barons a lead on home ice for the first time this season, 1-0 over visiting Texas. C.J. Stretch and Joel Broda assisted. It was Miller’s first goal of the season.
A fast-paced exchange of 3 on 2 rushes in the period produced a pair of shots on goal for each team in less than a minute, as well as a sprawling defensive shot block by big left-winger Ben Eager.
Each goalie, Richard Bachman for the OKC Barons and Cristopher Nilstorp of the Texas Stars, turned aside 10 second period shots.
The Stars sent a scare through the Cox Convention Center crowd with a 3 on 2 shorthanded break in the closing seconds, but Richard Bachman turned aside the 10th Texas shot of a scoreless first period. The OKC Barons have yet to score an opening period goal this season. Todd Nelson’s Barons put 9 shots on goal in the 1st period.
Here’s the round 2 video I produced for AJGA at the Junior All-Star Inv presented by Nike Golf.
My buddy Ken Fischer always finds a way to leave an impact with students and teachers alike.
Originally posted on Postcards from The Web:
Today we said goodbye to the class of 2013 at the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism – at least the one’s who were part of OU Nightly this year. Ken Fischer, the tireless proponent of all seeking students, a saint among broadcast educators, combined two of his passions (as he often does) in his final address over chicken fingers and pizza in Studio A. Citing the powerful words from a great movie writer, Michael Wilson, Ken reminded them what their journalism degrees – and their journey forward as educated citizens in a great, free democracy – should be guided by. Wilson was a blacklisted filmmaker responsible for some iconic work. Born in Oklahoma, he died in Los Angeles. Like all great writers his work lives on – including the statement below – which was retrieved from a special online edition of the National Screen Actor which can be found here.
Blacklisted screenwriter Michael Wilson was honored by the Writers Guild of America in 1976. The words he spoke are as true today as they were then, and a fitting conclusion to any examination of the blacklist era:
“I don’t want to dwell on the past, but for a few moments to speak of the future. And I address my remarks particularly to you younger men and women who had perhaps not established yourself in this industry at the time of the great witch hunt. I feel that unless you remember this dark epoch and understand it, you may be doomed to replay it. Not with the same cast of characters, of course, or on the same issues. But I see a day perhaps coming in your lifetime, if not in mine, when a new crisis of belief will grip this republic; when diversity of opinion will be labeled disloyalty; and when extraordinary pressures will be put on writers in the mass media to conform to administration policy on the key issues of the time, whatever they may be. If this gloomy scenario should come to pass, I trust that you younger men and women will shelter the mavericks and dissenters in your ranks, and protect their right to work. The Guild will have the use and need of rebels if it is to survive as a union of free writers. This nation will have need of them if it is to survive as an open society. Thank you.”
Originally posted on Postcards from The Web:
Like millions – if not billions of people – I first “met” Nadia Comaneci when the pigtailed Romanian took over the Olympic stage and redefined women’s gymnastics. Her ferocity, her focus, her tenacity – her tender age – left the world in wonder, and certainly left people assuming that her life could never be as good as it was then.
Fast forward to when I first met Nadia, in 2007 or 2008, at the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame ceremonies in Oklahoma City where Diane and I sat with Nadia and Bart and friends at the event which the couple (Bart Conner and Nadia) have helped to not only prop up but build into a world recognized event. This is some of what Nadia does now.
She also raises a beautiful boy, Dylan. She commands her business. She builds hospitals. She walks in the room and she inspires her teammates, associates and family to action in creating a better world by her own resolve and strength.