Dean's Blog: Buddy Buckets Is Your National Player Of The Year

Friday, March 11th 2016, 1:32 am
By: Dean Blevins

Before OU and Iowa State tipped in one of the more important opening games of the 20 years the Big 12 Tournament, it was suggested here that Buddy Hield needed not only a team win, but an outstanding performance, if he intended to win the vote for National Player of the Year. The thinking was that Michigan State has an easier path to a successful conference tournament than the Sooners and that that exposure would allow Denzel Valentine ample time to secure a good number of first-place votes. And quite possibly enough votes to beat out Hield, who during OU’s late season lull has seen his play dip. It’s worth noting that Hield’s pace through the first half the season was simply torrid. Must-see TV. Buddy Ball making Buddy Buckets. Duplicating 30-plus point games while making more threes than he missed with his team storming to Golden State comparisons. Now that’s a high bar. 

The fact is there have been lots of basketball people and talking heads who have recently spoken out in favor of Valentine over Hield. They rightfully compliment the versatile Spartan who came off a midseason injury to lead the oh-so-popular and potent Sparty Cagers to a late season run that surely will end with Izzy’s gang a No. 1 seed. But after witnessing Buddy Ball tonight, the Valentine camp should have as much chance at Natty POY as my guy Marco does of beating your guy Trump in Florida. For the record, that’s less-than-zero. On The Donald and The Hield. 

Related Story: Weathering The Storm: Sooners Survive Cyclones As Hield Scores 39

Buddy was Hell On Hields tonight. In a game that could have seen his Sooners fall to a 3-seed (although the late night scribes to my left and right say there’s no way they would have plummeted to a 3) and in a game that Buddy could have seen his POY votes diminish (yes, there are voters who are yet to cast their ballots), Hield and the Sooners excelled. Won in front of a raucous pro-Cyclone crowd — 15,000 in ISU red, to 723 in OU crimson. A crowd that yelled louder and longer than a 1978 Uriah Heep concert. 

Buddy’s 3-ball was not the weapon-of-choice tonight because of the way ISU chose to defend. Two of six from deep — but they were beauts. It was the rarely-called-upon two-pointers where No. 24 wore ‘em out. As in 12 of 15; many on daring, twisting, dribble drives where his high-arching shots with either hand would glance high off the left side of the glass and tickle the twine on its way back to earth. He hit breakaways, pull-ups, and fadeaways, where he was airborne longer than a Charles Barkley drive.

And he had but four turnovers, two of which were irrelevant late game misadventures meaning with all in-your-grill D ISU used on Hield, he coughed it up but twice. He did that in thirty seconds of a couple of games down the stretch. But not tonight. 

Not on the night where Buddy Hield locked up his National Player of the Year award. 14 of 21 from the field, 9 of 9 from charity, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks and 1 steal. Thirty nine points Denzel. Sorry. Buddy says you’re a great guy and we all know you’re a great player. But regardless of what happens to the Sooners from here on out in Kansas City, Buddy’s big night was the dagger. And it has the Sooners feeling like they can pull it together and resemble that team that sat atop the natty standing for 3 weeks.