Tall order

Wayne Chism built his reputation against Greg Oden two summers ago in Little Rock, Arkansas. Now he gets a chance to enhance his reputation – also against Oden – Saturday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio.

Wayne Chism is a 6-foot-9, 240-pound freshman for the 16th-ranked Tennessee Vols. Greg Oden is a 7-foot, 280-pound freshman for the 5th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. They met twice in AAU ball during their high school days with mixed results.

"He was bullying me when I first played him," Chism recalls of Oden, widely regarded as America's top college prospect a year ago. "But I came back the next year and played pretty well."

You could say that. Facing Oden in the "Real Deal on the Hill" AAU tournament at Little Rock, Chism scored 13 points and held Oden to 7.

"I did all right," Chism modestly recalls.

Entering the "Real Deal" tourney Oden already was a heralded superstar from Indianapolis. Conversely, Chism was a well-kept secret from Bolivar. The secret slipped out that fateful day in Little Rock, though. Chism's performance established him as a rising star on the summer circuit.

"That's what I thought," Chism says. "That was my biggest game, and that's when everybody (college scouts) started talking to me."

Chism recalls that 2005 confrontation as being "a physical game." This should've favored Oden, who was the most physically imposing player in high school basketball at the time. Chism didn't back down, though.

"I was real physical with him," the Vol freshman recalls. "Sometimes he got me deep and got his points but mostly I was just real physical with him and kept him off the boards."

The same tactics may not be enough in Saturday's rematch at Columbus, however.

"You're going to have to change it up because he's gotten better than he was a year ago and the year before that," Chism says. "You've got to think of more things to do to him so he can't be a bigger factor in the game."

So what is the key to defending against a man as physical overpowering as Oden?

"You've got to beat him to the spot, be physical with him because he's going to be physical with you," Chism says. "You've got to get a body on him. If you don't get a body on him he's just going to bury you under the goal, and you might as well call it a day."

Tennessee already faced two of the NCAA's premier freshmen – North Carolina's Brandan Wright and Texas' Kevin Durant. Each is in the 6-foot-9, 210-pound range. In other words, they're willowy compared to the massive Oden.

Chism notes that Wright and Durant "played more like guards," whereas "Greg is more of a dominant inside man."

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl says Oden is even more dominating physically than he was when Chism battled him 18 months ago.

"Wayne matched up well with Greg," Pearl notes, "but Greg was 240 pounds then. Now he's 280 pounds. He's a man."

The key question: Are Chism and 6-foot-7, 233-pound teammate Duke Crews man enough to keep Oden in check? Chism is eager to find out.

"Playing against a more physical person will help me and help everybody else who has to guard him in how they're going to step up on defense," the Vol rookie says. "He's stronger than he was a year ago and he's better than he was a year ago.

"Coming out and playing against him again will be a good thing for me and a good thing for him."


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