- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2007

ATLANTA — Ohio State center Greg Oden spent Friday’s media availability in the Ohio State locker room flanked by two student managers, who provided room for the center to fend off a horde of reporters and quietly provide simple answers.

Yesterday, he spoke to perhaps an even larger group from a podium, this time wryly rattling off one-liner after one-liner during an entertaining half-hour.

The freshman wunderkind proved a worthy center of attention while discussing an array of subjects stretching from being scared of heavily tattooed teammate Jamar Butler when they first met to speaking with reverence of legendary center Bill Russell and how any comparisons between the two are inappropriate.

A sampling of the rest of Oden’s wit and wisdom as the Buckeyes (35-3) prepare for tonight’s national final against Florida (34-5): On whether, given his more aged appearance, he would get carded at bars: “I’m pretty sure I would. Not really, but I’m pretty sure somebody would say ‘Hey, that’s Greg Oden.’ ”

On why teammate Matt Terwilliger’s nickname is Twig: “His last name is Terwilliger.”

On GameWorks, a favorite hangout in Columbus: “It has go-karts and all sorts of games. It’s a great place to take a date.”

On wriggling his 7-foot frame into go-karts: “I do. It’s a struggle.”

On his least favorite class: “History, that’s not the class for me. I have to read five books in 10 weeks. That doesn’t work for me.”

On his favorite class: “Biology. It’s 600 people and 400 girls.”

On whether he has a girlfriend and whether that would have an impact on his thoughts on his favorite class: “I do, but it’s good to just watch.”

Spoken like a true college student.

Big man redux

After nearly a week of hype for Saturday’s meeting between Oden and Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert, a dominant topic of discussion was another matchup in the middle: Oden and Florida forward Joakim Noah.

Never mind that Oden probably will be guarding Al Horford rather than the gregarious Noah for much of the night. After the Oden-Hibbert tilt fizzled — they were only on the floor together for a combined 13:47 after both encountered foul trouble — there is still an appetite for a battle of giants.

“It’s fun to see big guys on the floor,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “I talked to John Thompson [Jr.] about that [Saturday], and to see Hibbert, Oden and now Noah, these guys on the floor going head to head, it’s like watching the dinosaurs. It’s like watching Jurassic Park.”

The difference tonight is the contrasting styles. Oden is a more traditional back-to-the-basket big man, while Noah is as much a power forward as a center.

“He’s definitely a great player, and he’s dealt with so much this season, so many expectations,” Noah said. “We’re really looking forward to playing against a great team because it’s not all about just Greg Oden. We know that this team has a lot of other components.”

Driesell honored

Former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell was named as part of this year’s induction class for the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

Driesell won 786 games during stops at Davidson, Maryland, James Madison and Georgia State. He is one of only five coaches to take four schools to the NCAA tournament.

The hall in Kansas City, Mo., also will induct former Duke coach and Sun Belt commissioner Vic Bubas, former Houston coach Guy Lewis and ex-Missouri coach Norm Stewart, as well as players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (UCLA), Dick Barnett (Tennessee State), Austin Carr (Notre Dame) and Dick Groat (Duke) on Nov. 19.

Coaches Phog Allen, John McLendon, Adolph Rupp and Henry Iba will be inducted as the “Founding Fathers” of the sport.

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