OKLAHOMA CITY-Slowed by his tender left foot and a smothering defense, J.R. Giddens showed he was indeed human Tuesday night during John Marshall's 59-49 loss at third-ranked Southeast High School.
Attempting to shake the rust from a 17-day layoff and fighting through an occasional grimace, Giddens only scored eight points, but still grabbed seven rebounds in the loss, which dropped John Marshall to 12-3 this season.
"I went from hero to zero," said Giddens. "It's like I'm a virgin to the game of basketball all the sudden. I was making all kinds of bad decisions."
Still, Giddens, who came off the bench and only played 16 minutes, showed glimpses of his electrifying potential during the first half.
Despite missing his first two shots of the game, the Kansas signee stroked back-to-back three-pointers near the end of the second quarter to give John Marshall a 32-30 lead at intermission.
After halftime, John Marshall sputtered offensively against Southeast's suffocating and sometimes puzzling mixture of defenses, which held the Bears to FRIGID 38 percent shooting in the second half.
Meanwhile, Southeast (16-0) bust the game open with a 13-0 run to end the third and open the fourth quarter, while John Marshall responded with a mere six points in the game's final quarter.
A non-factor in the second half, Giddens missed several "easy" putbacks and ended up finishing the game 3-of-12 from the floor.
"I could never get into the flow of the game," said Giddens. "It's hard to come out of the locker room and make my foot heat right up. I just wasn't hitting my shots."
Giddens said his left foot, which sidelined him for four games, felt "OK" during Tuesday night's game, but he blamed his sub-par performance on a lack of conditioning.
"I'm so out of shape," said Giddens, who described his play last night as "a zero on a scale of one to ten." "I just never found my rhythm. I was forcing it a lot."
John Martin, John Marshall's coach, said Giddens "looked a step slow" Tuesday night, but indicated he's excited to have his team's top scorer back on the court.
"He's getting there," said Martin, who is in his first year at John Marshall after previous serving as an assistant at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Carl Albert (Okla.) Junior College and Oklahoma City University. "Remember, he played last night without practicing, so he'll come around in the next few weeks, probably just in time for playoffs."
Yet, Giddens' return to health might be quicker than expected. Martin said Giddens practiced yesterday and showed considerable improvement.
"There was a little more pain yesterday than Tuesday night, but he practiced longer than I expected," said Martin, who estimated Giddens is only playing at 65 percent speed right now. "His foot's still causing him some discomfort, but it's nothing like it was before."
For now, Giddens is focusing his attention on Friday's home game vs. Millwood, Class 3A's second-ranked team, which dropped John Marshall 68-62 on Jan. 17, a road game that he missed due to injury.
"They've been calling us out," said Giddens. "But when they come to the Marshall, it's on. I'm gonna give it to them."