DeJuan Blair - That Just Happened

DeJuan Blair is may be coming off the best individual performance of this entire college basketball season. True, Blake Griffin, Jodie Meeks, and Stephen Curry can put up 40 on any given night, but lets take a look at what DeJuan Blair did on Monday. Blair put up 22 points, 23 rebounds against the #1 team in the country, the #1 defensive team in the Big East, in UConn’s own building, going head-to-head with the man who is supposed to be the best defensive player in the game, and a shot blocking machine, in Hasheem Thabeet. Not only that, Thabeet was coming off of a 25, 20, and 9 block performance in his previous game. He ended this game with 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot. Blair also stayed out of foul trouble, and when caught in a bad position defensively, actually gave up a 2-point dunk or layup instead of committing a stupid foul. There were pro scouts all over the arena that night, mostly to see Thabeet. Instead, they got to see Thabeet get owned by Blair, and see DeJuan’s Blair’s draft stock rise through the roof.

This past performance by Blair was not a lucky game, or anything new. Blair has been putting up big numbers and big games all season long, against the best competition. Blair had 20 points, 17 rebounds in a game earlier this season matched up against Georgetown center Greg Monroe. Blair had 23 points, 22 rebounds against Notre Dame center Luke Harangody. Blair has consistently risen to the occasion in big games, and outplayed centers who are supposed to be better or more hyped than he is. The only way you can take Blair out of his game if to get him in foul trouble and get him on the bench. You know Blair is doing something right when the opposing teams’ game plan against him is nothing that involves play on the court – the goal is to get him into foul trouble.

All of this has allowed DeJuan Blair to fly up the mock draft boards. Comparisons are now being made of Blair to Wes Unseld, and Charles Barkley. Still only a sophomore, Blair has a tremendous upside. His mid-range shot, and low post moves are getting better every game. I do believe he will benefit if he stays another year at college. Many players have breakout seasons, and go to the pros, only to realize they could have learned a lot more by staying at school for another year. If Blair comes back to the Panthers next season, he will dominate, and likely be a lottery pick in 2010.

But before we worry about where Blair can be drafted, or what he will do after the season is over, he, along with the rest of his teammates, still have work to do this season. It won’t get any easier for going against the best in the nation in the Big East. Every game in Big East play is a battle, especially under the basket, or to borrow a football term, in the “trenches.” Some Big East basketball games are more like football games, and the Pitt Panthers may be the toughest team in the nation, with Blair as their tough-minded leader. Blair is built like a tank of pure muscle, and is a monster down low. Blair wears arm bands around his arms, and Jay Bilas commented during the game that these could we worn a head band, or a belt on anybody else.

The Panthers have a good opportunity to go deep in the NCAA tournament, and even get to the Final Four and contend for a national championship. They have the scoring, and athleticism in Sam Young, another future first-round pick. They have the leadership in Levance Fields, who leads the nation in assist/turnover ratio, and is the ultimate floor general. And then there is DeJuan Blair, who with his tough play, and infectious smile, can help lead this Pitt team to a national championship this season.


Anonymous said...

Didn't there used to be a writer "Jack Flack" on here. What a chump he is. Is he too busy getting owned by his wife to write/talk about sports anymore.

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