By Brian Chan
Special to ClipperBlog
The NBA is the best basketball league in the world. Naturally, only the best college and international players make it, and even the lowliest bench player had his moment at some point. Brian Cook was once Big-10 Player of the Year! With the start of March Madness upon us, I thought it would be fun to look at the top Tournament performances by the current Clippers roster.
To preface these selections, they were mostly selected sans context. I watched, much less remember, very few of these games. In addition, the data I found was quite limited, so these selections are based on simple box score figures. I also limited each player to one entry.
5. Craig Smith [2006 NCAA Tournament: Boston College (88) - Pacific (76)]
In the opening round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament, #4-seeded Boston College met #13-seeded Pacific. The game took two overtimes to be decided. Boston College trailed by 6 in the first overtime, but rallied and tied the game behind Craig Smith’s clutch free throws. Boston College pulled away in the second overtime, holding Pacific to 2 Points. Craig shot 10 for 17 from the floor to score 25 Points and added 13 Rebounds (5 Offensive).
4. Randy Foye [2006 NCAA Tournament: Villanova (60) - Boston College (59)]
#1-seeded Villanova met #4-seeded Boston College in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Villanova’s vaunted guards played poorly, with the exception of Foye. Boston College controlled the majority of the game, but Villanova was able to force overtime with Foye scoring six straight points at the end of regulation. Although Foye shot a relatively inefficient 10 for 25, he scored 5 of Villanova’s 9 overtime points and led them to a 1 point victory. Clipper teammate Craig Smith was on the losing end with Boston College, scoring 14 Points, grabbing 14 Rebounds, and dishing out 7 Assists.
3. Eric Bledsoe [2010 NCAA Tournament: Kentucky (100) - Eastern Tennessee State (71)]
In the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, #1-seeded Kentucky opened with #16-seeded Easten Tennesse State. In his very first tournament game, Eric Bledsoe turned in a stellar performance. Bledsoe shot 9 for 11 from the field–8 of 9 from 3 Point–scoring 29 Points. Bledsoe added 3 Rebounds and 1 Assist in a drubbing of Eastern Tennessee State.
2. Mo Williams [2002 NCAA Tournament: Alabama (86) - FAU (76)]
In the opening round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament, freshman point guard Mo Williams led #2-seeded Alabama (26-7) against a #15-seeded Florida Atlantic team (20-12). FAU held a 40-38 halftime lead and the game was tied late in the second half; however, 10 straight points from Mo Williams helped the Crimson Tide pull away late. Williams finished with a career high 33 Points and 10 Rebounds. The amazing part about this game was Williams’s efficiency– he scored his 33 Points on 13 Attempts, while going 12 for 13 from the Free Throw line. He also added 6 Assists for good measure.
1. Blake Griffin [2009 NCAA Tournament: Oklahoma (73) - Michigan (63)]
In the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament, #2-seeded Oklahoma met with #10-seeded Michigan. Michigan shot well early in the game, but fell into early foul trouble trying to defend Blake Griffin. After a back and forth first half, Oklahoma pulled away in the second half for a 73-63 victory. Blake finished with 33 Points on 14 of 20 shooting. Blake added a monstrous 17 Rebounds with 8 of them offensive. The only knock on Blake’s performance is the 5 for 10 outing from the Free Throw line. Clipper teammate Willie Warren also played in this game, scoring 16 Points and dishing out 4 Assists for the Sooners.
Chris Kaman: 25 Points, 10 Rebounds [2003 NCAA Tournament: Duke (86) - CMU(60)]
Ryan Gomes: 25 Points, 13 Rebounds [2004 NCAA Tournament: Pacific (66) - Providence(58)]