Searching For: Ed O’Bannon

December 8, 2008
While Ben Howland is lauded by fans and alumni for restoring order to the UCLA basketball program, he’s still yet to bring a title to Westwood. You have to go back to 1995 where Jim Harrick–a convicted cheater for the record–manned the sidelines for one of the most complete championship teams we can think of. It was a team that on the whole was much greater than the sum of its parts. No player found long term success in the NBA and only a few even found short term success. But they did go about eight deep, and had a Wooden Award winning go-to-guy…

Nicknamed “Ed-O,” Ed O’Bannon was the focal point of the Bruins high-powered offense. Evidence is in the 30 points and 17 rebounds he posted in the championship game against Arkansas, which easily earned him Final Four MVP.

ed-o1

While O’Bannon was unquestionably the best player in college basketball that season, there were still the skeptics who were not sure his skills could translate over to the NBA. Despite this, O’Bannon was selected 9th in the draft by the New Jersey Nets. He got a nice signing bonus and guaranteed cash, but the highlights pretty much stopped there.

O’Bannon struggled to find his place within the rotation, spending three seasons essentaily chilling on the Nets and Mavericks bench. He wound up as a throw in as part of a trade to the Magic and was immediately released, ending his time in the NBA. After bouncing around various European teams and withstanding a few knee surgeries, O’Bannon lost his desire to play the game. To put it bluntly, he said: “I guess I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.”

Now the story could end there, and we guess it still sort of does. But don’t worry about Ed O’Bannon, as he’s still living the good life. He lives in Las Vegas, constantly asking apprehensive consumers…What is it going to take to get you in this Scion today?

After accruing just under four million dollars in the NBA, O’Bannon has traded in his Converse’s for loafers, wielding a business card that reads: “Findlay Toyota and Scion – Sales and Leasing.”

While he seems like a pretty content individual, O’Bannon attributes his basketball demise to lack of confidence, telling LA Times writer Bill Plaschke , “I missed shots, [and] got pulled from games. It affected my defense, and I lost all my confidence.”

Yes, in the big picture, Ed O’Bannon is really no more than another college basketball star gone awry. A guy who was never “NBA Ready.” But he’s got one more national championship ring than any of us. And he probably still sports it while driving driving down the Vegas strip in a fuel-efficient Camry Hybrid.

Quickie Recap 12.4: Even a “bag-tag” won’t slow down Griffin, 8 is greater than 9

December 5, 2008
Every man feels his pain

Every man feels his pain

Who would attack the “manhood” of arguably the strongest player in college basketball? Enter Leonard Washington…exit Leonard Washington. Not only is Leonard Washington mentally inferior, he also still believes it is acceptable to play the elementary school “bag-tag” game.

After Blake was able to get over that not-so-loving feeling, he was able to convert 11 of the Sooners final 21 points, leading them to a 73-72 victory. The Sooners are now 7-0 and looking very nice.

Texas was able to give UCLA their second loss in the early season, as part of yet another inter-conference series. AJ Abrams led all with 31, with a tie-breaking three ball with just under three minutes left.

UCONN quietly avoids a monumental upset from the Buffalo Bulls, their only true non-conference road game. This begs the question if the Huskies are ready for the Big East grind, which is sure to be tagged as ‘historical’ before this season is over.


Quickie 11.20 Recap: We’re gonna party like its 1992

November 21, 2008

Oh yes, the nostalgia is hitting us

Oh yes, the nostalgia is hitting us

Now the college basketball season is finally here. Our first huge upset of the season has taken place. On Thursday night in the Mecca of basketball arena’s, Madison Square Garden, an unranked Michigan Wolverines team took down Ben Howland’s #4 UCLA Bruin’s.


Michigan was able to hold off the stingy Bruin’s to get their first win against a Top 5 team in 11 years. The win was propelled by Deshawn Sims 18 points and Manny Harris’ 15 points.


Big Blue needed this victory in many ways. It ushered in new head coach John Beilein, by way of West Virginia…and no, it wasn’t a package deal with Rich Rodriguez. Also, this win should ease the pain of the Michigan faithful, since their football team is an abysmal 3-8. And finally, it is Ohio State weekend, so they will only have 36 hours to enjoy this massive victory before their football team is disassembled in C-Bus like a dog chewing on a nyla bone.


The win for Michigan sets up a final in the Garden with against Duke, who ironically so, was the last Top 5 team Michigan beat (1997 #1 Duke). The Blue Devils beat Southern Illinois on Thursday night, 83 – 58.

So maybe the Wolverines will get to celebrate once more, before the big football game.

Down in the 51st state, Xavier, Memphis, and Virginia Tech win as favorites, and Seton Hall comes up with a minor upset over USC. Those four winners move on to tomorrow’s semi-finals in the Puerto Rico Tip Off. Is it just us or can you almost guarantee nine Big East teams in the big dance? Wow. Anyways, it will be X-A-V, IER facing VA Tech and, by process of elimination, the Tigers against the Pirates.


Quickie 11.17 Recap: Lot of Games, Little Action

November 17, 2008

Pitt's dominating win over Miami was like a girl _____________ Tower

So there was a bevy of games on the slate last night. For those of you looking for some drama and hoping for something like Miami of Ohio following up their effort against UCLA–well nothing of the like really happened. Pittsburgh turned it on in the 2nd half and steamrolled those Red Hawks, UCONN scored two more points in the 2nd half than their opponent put up in the entire game, and Stephen Curry is doing his best to extinguish any doubt that moving to point guard will prevent him from scoring points, dismantling a trifling JMU squad. Villanova also put up an impressive 107 points to annihilate Fordham. Er scratch that…Fordham would struggle against Division III teams, they’re atrocious

The closest game on the Top 25 scoreboard was Georgetown (probably on auto-pilot) with a nine point win over Jacksonville. Boring.

Yes, I (Nick) am aware that it appears I am purposely overlooking Sunday’s Duke-URI outcome, where Jimmy Baron nearly single-handedly snapped the Blue Devils 62 game home non-conference winning streak. My response…this time of the season is like Spring Training: If you win, great. If you lose…well it’s just Spring Training. Right? RIGHT? Anyone?

Anyways we’re looking forward to the first big matchup of the season…UNC and Kentucky. The Wildcats still suck but at least it’s a “brand-name.” Tyler Hansborough is still out with that injury, so we won’t need a big bottle of Aleve handy just to watch the entire 40 minutes of play.


Obligatory Preseason Top 10. #s 10-6

November 12, 2008

OK it’s just about that time. Baseball is finito, ESPN is in full on “NFL ALL DAY EVERYDAY UNTIL IT HURTS!!!” mode, and it’s getting effing cold in the Northeast. That can only mean one thing…National Novel Writing Month college basketball is about to finally tip-off. We’re not that into the whole preseason prediction crap–we’ll leave that to the talking heads. But even so we must post something. So we will stick to a quick top ten, as we finally get this blog rolling.

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#10 OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Blake Griffin does a pretty mean David Tyree

Blake Griffin does a pretty mean David Tyree

When Sophomore Blake Griffin announced in April that he was giving up his Lottery Pick status, millions of dollars and stripper groupies to return to trifling Norman, Oklahoma, you better believe coach Jeff Capel was pleased. Chances are however, the rest of Sooner Country said, “cool” and resumed their insatiable anticipation for the upcoming spring football game.

It’s pretty simple with this team: As (Blake) Griffin goes, so go the Sooners. He’s a preseason All-American, which is well deserved. We should note that his older brother Taylor is on this team, but serves as a bench reserve and doesn’t garner any attention from the NBA.

In addition to BLAKE GRIFFIN, there’s a few other guys to keep an eye on. Tony Crocker will have to continue his 3-point prowess-as he shot over 40 percent from 3 last season. He will look to spot up with passes from freshman Willie Warren, a Top 25 recruit making the transition to point guard.

OU will participate in the NIT Season Tip Off, with potential noteworthy match-ups against Davidson and Purdue. Other than that it’s a pretty easy non-conference schedule, although we’re full of glee for that December 10th match-up against the Maine Black Bears. WHOOOO!!!

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#9 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH

I mean, they sure don't not look alike

I mean, they sure don't not look alike.

GODY!!! OK we just wanted to say that once. The Irish look good this year, and return Big East Player of the year Luke Harangody. That red head can play.

The Irish are set up for a very entertaining season, with one of their best teams on paper and toughest schedules in recent memory. They will get lei’d out in Hawaii and participate in the Maui Invitational, with potential match-ups against Texas and UNC.

We’re expecting a 30 win season from this team, but keep this stretch of games in mind…from January 12th to February 12th their schedule is as follows: @ Louisville, @ Syracuse, UCONN, Marquette, @ Pitt, @ Cincinnati, @ UCLA, and home to Louisville… Good Luck Leprechaun.

In addition to luck and Harangody, the Irish will always be in games with Kyle McAlarney stroking it from deep—he shot 44 percent from 3 last season. They also have Tory Jackson, the “Tito” to McAlarney’s “Michael,” as he led the Big East in assists last year. That reference probably resonated with our fathers, but none of our other readers.

There will be depth issues as the bench lacks a real sparkplug who can score, but a good, top-heavy team here that will certainly be battled-tested come March.

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#8 UCLA BRUINS

It all falls on Darren Collison now, as UCLA is sans Kevin Love

It falls on Darren Collison's shoulders, as UCLA is sans Kevin Love

If college basketball powerhouse programs were like little girls, they would all be whispering into each other’s ears talking about how UCLA has been to three straight final fours, but won NO NATIONAL TITLES!!! HAHAHA!

So this year, as The Buffalo Bills look to reach their fourth straight Super Bowl UCLA looks to reach the Final Four for the fourth consecutive season, Ben Howland will have to find a way to maximize effort. The Bruins return All-American Darren Collison and have an explosive freshman in Jrue Holiday. But with the losses of Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and that really handsome boy Lorenzo Mata-Real, depth will certainly be an issue. If you don’t believe us, James Keefe is expected to start at power forward—over the past two years, he’s only managed 1.9 points per game.

Yes, the Pac-10 will be down this year so UCLA will still be the class of the conference. But getting to Detroit will be tough, as well as keeping those little girls from laughing.

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#7 PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

A Final Four appearance could make Matt Painter national coach of the year

A Final Four appearance could make Matt Painter national coach of the year

If you’re looking for a trendy pick to follow this season jump on the Boilermaker bandwagon, a team that’s got a ton of energy and depth.

All five starters return, and seven of their top eight scorers, to a team bounced by Xavier in the 2nd round of the 2008 tournament. We saw these guys in person last year, and were very impressed with their backcourt—something that’s imperative to success in college basketball.

Coach Matt Painter has supplanted ESPN weirdo Steve Lavin, and New Mexico Head Coach Steve Alford as the “Coolest Guy In College Basketball With Slicked Back Hair.” Although few other competitors really come to mind.

Anyways, getting back to that backcourt, they have guards a plenty and a point guard by committee comprised of E’Twaun Moore (all around stud), Keaton Grant (voted by teammates last year as team MVP), and Chris Kramer (reigning Big 10 defensive player of the year).

There’s also Robbie Hummel. A 6’ 8” guy who can shoot lights out, even though he looks like a 3rd grader shooting with both hands.

Yes there’s a lot of talent here and a lot of guys who can handle the ball, making them a team you don’t want to press. However, the Boilermakers will need to do better on the boards this season. They virtually broke even in rebounding margin, so that will have to be improved if they want to close out games. If they can gel and figure out each other’s roles, there could be great success! in West Lafayette.

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#6 PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

These kids are good at watching basketball, not playing

These kids are good at watching basketball, not playing

We’re not descendants of Nostradamus, but we’re nearly certain that despite Pitt’s high level of talent, they will win at least 20 games, reach the Big East Tournament final, then struggle in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve accomplished the first two feats seven times this decade but have never even played in a regional final. They’ve got the make-up to finally break down that wall this season but some players will have to take on, and perform well, in larger roles. The backcourt now falls on the shoulders of Levance Fields. He is a typical, tough Panthers point guard plucked from the NY/NJ area. Now he will have to run the show with Ronald Ramon no longer around.

Dejaun Blair will be an absolute horse down low. He’s a rebounding machine that loves attention and loves to compete.
Expect him and Tyrell Biggs to take lesser opponents lunch money throughout the season.

The bulk of the scoring will come from Sam Young, a versatile senior who is the 2nd highest returning scorer in the conference. Pittsburgh will be fun to watch, probably even more then their intra-city professional counterparts Steelers and Penguins. I purposely didn’t include the Pirates because they’re more like semi-pro, but even that is being generous.