Tuesday, February 17, 2009
UConn/Pitt: Hasheem Gets Tha-Beasted
I have enjoyed watching UCONN play this season as they rose to the best team in the nation with a number one ranking. I also thought that their center, the 7'3" Hasheem Thabeet, has had an outstanding season as he has really developed into an All-American-type baller this year.
That said, this guy Thabeet is cocky. As I recall in my ESPN the Magazine college basketball preview issue, Thabeet, who was on the cover, was basically downplaying the abilities of guys like Tyler Hansbrough and Luke Harangody, two of the best big men in the game.
I don't see a need for this. If you are any good, just go out there and play and people like Dick Vitale will be swinging from your coattails with compliments. With this in mind, you can imagine my joy last night as Pittsburgh not only defeated UCONN, but Panther center DeJuan Blair just destroyed Thabeet dropping 22 points and hauling in 23 rebounds in a physical match. Thabeet countered with just five points and found himself in foul trouble. For anyone who saw the game, the refs were letting 'em play and Blair used his football-like frame to physically overpower Thabeet. It started early on with a patented WWF-style hiptoss that would make the late Mr. Perfect smile and continued with Blair just bulling his way into the taller Thabeet and scoring at will.
In the postgame. UCONN coach Jim Calhoun had to hold himself back from getting into what he really wanted to talk about: the physical play. He noted that this will serve Blair well in the NBA, but, of course, the game in Hartford on Monday night was not an NBA contest. Personally, I like it. As long as the officials are going to be consistent in what they call throughout, let these guys bang around. I think this was a humbling experience for Thabeet as he had just come off another big game against Seton Hall where he was catching lobs like he was playing against a bunch of fifth graders at recess. After last night's game, Thabeet didn't have much to say except he was glad the two will get to meet again. I'm looking forward to that meeting too.
-Posted by Cadillac Mescallade