SI.com Julia Morrill "Closer Look"
Oden uses time wisely in dismantling Dorsey, Tigers
Posted: Sunday March 25, 2007
SAN ANTONIO -- Memphis center Joey Dorsey actually rooted for Ohio State to win its South regional semifinal against Xavier because he wanted the matchup against the Buckeyes 7-footer, Greg Oden. "I see this as a big challenge for me to make a name for myself," Dorsey said prior to Saturday night's final. "I'll stop Greg Oden and hold him to probably nine points and probably five rebounds. And I will have 15 points and 20 rebounds. Everyone is going to say Dorsey is a great player, he's underrated, he's a great rebounder."
Final score: Ohio State 92, Memphis 76. Despite foul trouble, Greg Oden made his presence felt with 17 points and nine rebounds. Dorsey's final stat line? Zero points and three boards. "I don't think [Dorsey] meant to call [Oden] out," Memphis coach John Calipari said.
But Oden responded that way. Limited floor time did not affect his impact, as the Buckeyes freshman went 7-of-8 from the field in 24 minutes. His layup and free throw off a Chris Douglas-Roberts intentional foul with 10 minutes remaining proved to be the game's turning point.
After the final horn, as the Ohio State players climbed the ladder one-by-one to cut down a piece of the net, fans chanted, "Two more games!" Oden stood amidst the celebration with a smile on his face and walked around taking pictures with the band and cheerleaders, even handing his piece of the net to one of them. Now it's time to rest up for Atlanta. "I'm really excited," he said. "We have a long plane ride home, so I will probably sleep it off."
Player Who Impressed Me
Whether Mike Conley Jr. is splitting defenders and driving to the basket, dishing to teammates to set up three-pointers or lobbing the ball inside, he rarely makes bad decisions with the ball in his hands. The freshman, later named top player of the region, wasn't flawless against Memphis -- he was 0-for-2 from beyond the arc and had a team-high five turnovers -- but what stands out is his feel for the game, his instincts, and his quick hands.
Oden's favorite NBA player is former Spurs center David Robinson, and the Admiral was in attendance for the game against Tennessee. Oden admitted Friday he was distracted by his idol's presence. "In the middle of the game, I'm sitting there in the timeout and I look up and see [Robinson], and coach [Mike] Conley was like 'Were you looking at me in the timeout?' and I was like 'No, I was looking at David Robinson." Why does Oden love Robinson? "I think my style of play kind of resembles his and he's just a good person who I would like to resemble." ... Oden's mother couldn't make it to today's game because his brother, Anthony, a 6-8 junior at Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar played in the state championship game. "I'm happy for him that he's having a lot of fun now. He was really excited he was playing in the championship. I wish I could see it but I'm going to be having some business myself." ... A fan in the Memphis section held up a sign saying, "Calling Coach C: UK, Line 1."
Today was by far the best Ohio State has looked since the start of the tournament. They came out gunning (Memphis was in a 8-0 hole four minutes in), Oden dominated, they knocked down free throws down the stretch, and the guards stepped up to make key shots. If coach Thad Matta can keep the team focused, and not allow the mental lapses they had against Xavier and Tennessee, there's no question they have the talent and depth to win it all.