The Norman Transcript

Sports

December 29, 2007

Griffin has played through frustration

Sooners meet West Virginia today

Blake Griffin has shoulders about as broad as the lane he patrols on the basketball court. They’re so big the freshman forward doesn’t mind trying to put the weight of the world on them.

Through 12 games and about five times as many practices, he’s tried to do that each and every day.

“Blake is a perfectionist,” OU coach Jeff Capel said. “He wants to be really good and I think sometimes he feels like he’s letting people down.”

Griffin has experienced the dose of reality every freshman feels when he starts playing big-time college basketball. Handling success is easy for most. They’re accustomed to being the best player on the floor and performing like it on a daily basis. But adjusting to the fact opponents have great athletes, too, and dealing with that frustration, isn’t learned overnight.

Griffin has gone through the valleys as well as the peaks this season.

OU’s last game, a 72-68 victory over Gonzaga in the All-College Classic, was one of his best performances of the season. He scored 15 points and was huge in the paint with 14 rebounds and two blocked shots.

But the most surprising thing is the effort came after OU assistant coach Mark Cline and Capel had a heart-to-heart sit down with Griffin a few days earlier.

The talks, Cline’s verbal and Capel’s in the form of a letter, had nothing to do with Griffin’s effort, attitude or intensity.

“I thought Blake wasn’t having fun,” Capel said. “He looked like he was carrying a heavy burden.”

Griffin laughs about the discussions now. He said it was never a case of not having fun playing. His expectations, however, are unrelenting.

“When you’re not playing as well as you can, it’s not as fun,” Griffin said. “It’s definitely not fun to lose like we did against Stephen F. Austin.

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