Saturday, April 2, 2016

Okla and Buddy. Exposed

It's no great surprise Villanova defeated Oklahoma in a national semi-final game. They were actually slightly favored (2 points) going in. And both were #2 seeds in their regions.

What WAS surprising was the margin of victory. Villanova beat the stuffing out of Oklahoma to the tune of 95-51. A forty-four point romp goes beyond "blowout". It was a slaughter. A humiliating beat-down with countless millions of people watching. The Wildcats turned the Sooners into Laters. FORTY FOUR POINTS? Really???? Few could have anticipated such a result. As Popeye the sailor man might have said, "how embarassking". And somewhere the ghost of Mickey Mantle likely moaned.

True, in the whole scheme of things Oklahoma has nothing to hang their heads about. They had a successful season and just reaching the Final Four was an accomplishment in itself. But the thrashing they took at the hands of Villanova might change a couple dynamics. Not the least of which would be...

The future of Buddy Hield. The Bahamian native has enjoyed great success throughout his basketball life to date. He was tabbed a "phenom" when just a little tyke, and continued to tear it up through prep school and his time at Oklahoma. Hield won a variety of personal awards. He was most "this" and All "that". Suffice it to say, he's got his fair share of "iron" and plaques somewhere in a trophy case.

Also, Chavano Hield was the seemingly rare male college hoops star these days to actually -- gasp -- graduate as a senior. No doubt, he was high on NBA draft boards. Yet the shutdown that 'Nova put on Hield and his teammates certainly didn't go unnoticed by the gurus in NBA offices around the country.

Look at it this way --- in the biggest game on the biggest stage he had played in his life so far -- the normally high-scoring Hield was held to a mere 9 points. By a college team. True, Villanova's pretty damn good and will likely give North Carolina a run for their money on Monday night with the NCAA championship at stake.

Yet still --- if he can be neutralized by a good team at the collegiate level -- that may not speak well of how he might fare in the NBA. In a long, grueling season, Hield would be going up against professionals that are bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter than anything he saw during his glory days at Oklahoma.

Perhaps it's an unfair comparison. After all, a 44 point drubbing can hardly be laid at the feet of just one player. It was a TEAM woodshed moment.

But the possibility remains that Chavano "Buddy" Hield was "exposed" in this one game. Call it what you want. The glass ceiling, the Peter Principle, whatever. The list is long of jocks that were studs in "regular" games, but crashed and burned when they finally made it to the big stage, with all the pressure that goes with it.

Buddy Hield and the Sooners most definitely crashed and burned against Villanova. A 44 point pummeling is hardly a fluke.

What remains to be seen is what effect -- if any -- this will have on his draft status. Will the pro scouts and GMs blow it off as just one bad game? Or might they see it otherwise and Hield wind up sitting in the "green room" for a while before his name finally gets called as he slides down the board?

One thing for sure. Whatever happens to Hield has got to be better than sitting in the Bahamas waiting on the next hurricane to roll through.

Here's wishing him the best, and we'll see....

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