by Kyle Miller
Indiana high school basketball pumps out talent like no other state. If you need proof just look at the Butler Bulldogs over these last two years. With Butler’s magical run, now just over two months removed, it is time for Indiana to showcase its talent at the highest level.
Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Jeff Teague have been exceptional thus far in the second round. Zach Randolph is out of Marion High School and played AAU with the Spiece Gym Rats, Mike Conley Jr. is out of Lawrence North High School where he was teammates with Greg Oden (everyone who didn’t play against that duo thought Conley was highly recruited only because he played alongside Oden. Oops.) and Jeff Teague is from Pike High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Randolph and Conley were sensational in their upset of the elderly number one seeded San Antonio Spurs. Conley against the Spurs averaged 14.3 points and just over six assists, all while taking Tony Parker completely out of his game. Randolph, who is now with his fourth NBA franchise, is becoming an unstoppable force from 15 feet and in. He averaged 21.5 points and 9.2 boards per game against the senior citizen front line of the Spurs.
The Grizzles have proven knocking off the Spurs in the first round 4-2 was no fluke. They are currently tied with Oklahoma City 2-2 after a thrilling three overtime loss in Memphis, which would have put the Grizzles up 3-1 (sadly, I didn’t stay up for the whole thing due to early summer classes, but I heard it was thrilling). Conley has upped his points average to 18.3 points per game and Randolph has upped his to 26 points and 14 boards per game causing Kevin Durant to call him “the best power forward in the league” after Game 1.
Teague faced a different challenge than either Conley or Randolph. Teague played a total of nine minutes in their first round series against the Orlando Magic, but because Kirk Hinrich is ailing from a hamstring injury Teague has been promoted to ATL’s starting point guard. And boy has he taken advantage.
Teague is averaging 16 points on 49 percent shooting with just fewer than four assists per game. His main contribution is pushing the basketball for Atlanta; in fact, he is now so relied upon that he is playing over 41 minutes a game. Atlanta, athletically, is the most superior team in the NBA. Between Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson, Atlanta needs to play at a fast pace mainly to prevent Josh Smith from shooting anything outside of arm’s length from the basket.
Their only problem was Mike Bibby who played at an 18-wheeler’s pace. Then Kirk Hinrich, who played a little faster almost like a Ford Explorer. However, Teague is a far better defender than these two, which is nice considering he’s matched up with the league’s MVP Derrick Rose, and he plays at a much faster pace, which is how Atlanta needs to play.
Teague plays tonight in Chicago in a pivotal Game 5 to further prove he deserves the starting role in Atlanta, if he already hasn’t. Randolph and Conley get the day off to lick their wounds and play again at Oklahoma City on Wednesday at 9:30.