Tramel's ScissorTales: Can Blake Griffin help the Brooklyn Nets? Who will win the Big 12 Tournament?
Probably 15 years ago, then-Oklahoman deputy sports editor Mike Koehler asked me if I would start blogging. I barely knew what he meant.
The first time I saw the word “blog,” it was in a Dallas Morning News op-ed, and I thought it had something to do with science fiction. I swear. I equated it to that old B movie, “The Blob.”
Soon enough, I figured it out and started blogging. Once a day, then twice a day and eventually three times a day. I’ve cut back some since then, because the universe has contracted and time has been reduced.
But the digital world changes rapidly, and blogs posted every two or three hours might no longer be best for readers. So we’re trying something new, beginning today.
Instead of blogs sprinkled throughout the day, I’ll be posting a solitary blog each morning. Tramel’s ScissorTales, a compilation of items related (mostly) to Oklahoma sports. Opinions, lists, interesting developments, readers’ questions.
Consider it the modern notes column. Sometimes, what goes around comes around.
Back in the old heyday of sports pages, a popular feature was the notes column. A single article, with a variety of topics. I wrote one a week back in the 1990s. Dave Sittler wrote a great notes column at various times for us, the Tulsa Tribune and the Tulsa World. Al Eschbach wrote a notes column for the Oklahoma Journal, God rest its soul. And my favorite writer of them all, Blackie Sherrod of Dallas fame, wrote the greatest notes column of them all.
So this will be a daily notes column, Monday morning through Friday morning, though with March Madness, you’ll probably be getting some Saturday and Sunday ScissorTales, too.
- Related to this story
- Article: Tramel: Why Oklahoma State's win at West Virginia was one of Cowboys' best since Eddie Sutton era
- Article: ‘It’s too many this year’: Barry Switzer pained by recent deaths of his former OU football players
- Article: Oklahoma State basketball: Cade Cunningham named Big 12 Player of the Year by coaches
The name is a nod to our great state. The scissortail flycatcher is our state bird; the new bridge that spans Interstate 40 downtown bears the Scissortail name.
I’m nothing if not Oklahoman. My cell phone ring tone is “Oklahoma!” I talk Okie. I grew up in Norman, married an Oklahoma girl and have Oklahoma granddaughters. I eat pizza in Maysville, hit family reunions each year on Saline Creek east of Salina and Pickett west of Ada, have been to 100 high school football stadiums and have been to ballgames at University Park (Reynolds Stadium’s predecessor) in Stillwater and the OU Field House.
I hope you enjoy reading Tramel’s ScissorTales as much as I know I’ll enjoy writing them. We plan for delivery around mid-morning.
And to start us off, let’s hit the news of another Oklahoman.
Griffin to the Nets
Blake Griffin is joining the Brooklyn Netropolitans, and after being rescued from NBA Purgatory in Detroit with his contract being bought out. I assume you realize the star power now affixed to Gotham City’s little brother franchise.
Kevin Durant, still in his prime at age 32, is a six-time first-team all-pro (2010-14, 2018).
James Harden, still in his prime at age 31, is a six-time first-team all-pro (2014-15, 2017-20).
Kyrie Irving, 28, was second-team all-pro in 2019 and third-team all-pro in 2018.
DeAndre Jordan, 32 but well past his prime, was first-team all-pro in 2016.
Griffin, 31 and past his prime, was second-team all-pro in 2012-14 and third-team all-pro as recently as 2019.
That’s a crazy collection of talent, even if some of it is aging fast.
Griffin has been plagued by injuries. He’s played in just 38 games since April 2019. He’s averaged just 13.8 points a game and shot just 35.8 percent these last two seasons in Detroit.
Griffin is a shell of the athletic marvel from his Oklahoma Christian School, OU and Los Angeles Clipper days. He famously did not dunk in his 20 Pistons games this season.
Can Griffin help a team? Sure. Remember, Griffin always was more than just a jumping jack who produced acrobatic dunks. A great rebounder, a playmaker early in his NBA career, even a decent 3-point shooter (though he’s down to 33.1% for his career).
The Nets apparently see Griffin as a small-ball center. And truth is, since the Harden trade with Houston, Brooklyn’s depth has been gutted. Signing Griffin to a veteran’s minimum contract, somewhere around $5.8 million per year, can’t hurt. Griffin will help Brooklyn, particularly in the regular season.
But in the playoffs, depth is less of a concern. Rotations contract. Travel is restricted. What the Nets need come playoff time is defense, and that is not a Griffin strength.
Still, adding Griffin to the Brooklyn roster is a fascinating experiment. How much star power can one team handle?
Richard: “Is the (Lon) Kruger era one of mediocrity? It seems like his teams are just ‘better than average.’ This year, he starts four guards and a forward. Not a winning recipe in the long run. His teams certainly play hard and have moments of success, but they just seem to be average. (Kelvin) Sampson was a great coach. All we have to do is look at Houston. Could it be time for a change? Time for Lon to pass the torch?”
Tramel: “Exactly one week ago, Kruger's team was ranked No. 7 in the AP poll. I think he’ll be fine.”
Brad: “OU basketball is stuck. How good were Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, Ryan Spangler & Co.? In three seasons, they went 36-18 in the Big 12. Since departing, OU has compiled a conference winning percentage of .427 (38-51). OU’s Big 12 seed since Buddy left: 9, 9, 7, 3, 7. In fairness, the Big 12 the past five years has widely been regarded the third-best conference in men’s basketball behind the ACC and Big Ten. However, the Big 12 was really good 2014 thru 2016. The Big 12 is difficult, but I think Lon would be the first to tell you that the past six seasons could have been better. Playing a pigtail for the fifth time in six years (in Kansas City) is not OU basketball. Billy and Kelvin would have been run out of Norman (and were).”
Tramel: “Sampson wasn’t run off – he was hired away by Indiana, for crying out loud -- but you're right. The interest has waned. The OU masses don’t seem to care as much about basketball as they once did. Still, I say the Sooner program is fine. Went to the round of 32 in the most recent NCAA Tournament. Was a 3-seed in the Big 12 when the season shut down last year. Was ranked seventh in the AP poll this time last week.”
Big 12 men's basketball power rankings
I’ve been ranking Big 12 basketball teams all season, in a variety of ways. At the end of the season, the best way is simply the standings.
Of course, the pandemic has changed that. Baylor played just 14 conference games. Texas Christian played just 16. Only Kansas, OSU, Kansas State and Iowa State played all 18 games.
So the raw numbers won’t do. Not this season:
1. Baylor (13-1, 21-1): The Bears looked rough after returning from a three-week COVID break, winning 77-72 at home against Iowa State and losing 71-58 at Kansas. Fair to say the roughness is over. Baylor won 94-89 at West Virginia in overtime, 81-70 at home against OSU and 88-73 at home over Texas Tech.
2. Kansas (12-6, 19-8): Why Kansas No. 2? A 12-6 record in the Big 12 is mighty fine, and the Jayhawks have the lone victory over Baylor.
3. Oklahoma State (11-7, 18-7): Why the Cowboys ahead of West Virginia and Texas, though they’re a half game behind in the standings? Because both WVU and UT missed out on a game against Baylor, so a three-way tie at 11-7 seems likely had the schedule played out. And the Cowboys are playing great.
4. West Virginia (11-6, 18-8): Funny team. The Mountaineers were 6-2 on the Big 12 road but just 5-4 at home.
5. Texas (11-6, 17-7): The team performance of the year was the Longhorns’ 84-59 rout at Kansas, but that was a long time ago. January 2.
6. Texas Tech (9-8, 17-9): Why Tech ahead of OU? Well, the Red Raiders swept the Sooners, and while Tech’s AWOL game was against TCU, OU’s AWOL game was against Baylor.
7. Oklahoma (9-8, 14-9): The Sooners’ overall record, 14-9, isn’t great, either.
8. TCU (5-11, 12-13): Without the Horned Frogs’ shining achievement, a sweep of OSU, they finish below K-State.
9. Kansas State (4-14, 8-19): K-State usually plays well in the Big 12 Tournament.
10. Iowa State (0-18, 2-21): Will Cyclone fans still invade Kansas City, with a destitute team and the pandemic still going?
Pop culture is not my strength. But venture into the vintage, and we can talk. During the pandemic, with no sports in the early days, Trish the Dish and I spent many a night with Turner Classic Movies. So here’s my pick for the day: “One Potato, Two Potato.”
Barbara Barrie, of “Barney Miller” fame, stars in this 1964 film as the wife in an interracial marriage. In these days of social-justice discussions, this movie will remind you that the topic is not new and that racial injustice has many tentacles.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.