The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 6, 2013

Enid’s new house looking a lot like home

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle

— Sunday sports thoughts:

• The new Enid Event Center is taking shape and has the potential to become one of the jewels of the city.

The new basketball court being installed Monday that will serve as the home floor for the Enid Plainsmen and Pacers hoops teams will give Enid one of the sharpest playing surfaces in prep hoops. But what may be even nicer is the fact it will have Enid’s colors and will identify itself as clearly being the Enid home court with it bearing the name “Plainsmen” on one end and “Pacers” on the other.  

That may not seem like a big deal, but after spending the past few seasons at the Mabee Center, where Northern Oklahoma College Enid graciously shared its home court, it will be nice for the teams to feel like they have a home of their own.

Many still will complain it is off-campus, but the fact is the Event Center, with its locker rooms, playing surface, hospitality areas and seating, will be far superior to anything Enid has called home in many seasons.

• Keeping it on the hardwood, in case nobody noticed, Kevin Martin quietly exited Oklahoma City last week, signing a free agent deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves after one season with the Thunder.

When Martin came to OKC in the James Harden trade with the Houston Rockets, many expected him to be an impact player. He came to the Thunder averaging 18.4 points per game, but the 6-foot-7 shooting guard never seemed to fit in and when Russell Westbrook went down with an injury in the playoffs, it became painfully clear the Thunder had no viable scoring options beyond Kevin Durant.

Martin, in 77 games last season, averaged only 14 points per game to go along with a mere 1.4 assists per contest, half his career average of 2.8 assists.

Meanwhile, Harden averaged 25.9 points per contest and added 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who suddenly are looking even better with the free agent signing of Dwight Howard.

As part of the deal, the Thunder acquired Houston’s draft pick in the 2013 NBA draft (which it had acquired from Toronto) and used it to draft Pittsburgh freshman Steven Adams, a 7-footer originally from New Zealand, with the 12th overall pick.

Adams averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his only season at Pitt. He also only shot 44 percent from the free throw line. He is seen as a long-term project who is going to take at least a couple of years to develop in the NBA, if at all.

After a second-round playoff exit, the underperformance of its key trade acquisition and the selection of Adams, it appears the Thunder came out well on the short end of the Harden deal.

• Finally, when Tulsa joins the newly named American Athletic Conference in 2014, let’s hope the AAC has worked out its growing pains. Or at least remembers exactly what teams still will be there.

The AAC launched its official website this past week and featured on it were ads for merchandise for departing members Rutgers and Louisville, complete with the Big Ten logo on a Rutgers sweatshirt and the ACC logo for Louisville.

Maybe Tulsa has some excess Conference USA gear it can unload there as well. After all, with the confusion and clutter surrounding Conference USA/Big East/AAC realignment, things already have the appearance of a garage sale.



Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.