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Mr. Orien "OG" Greene
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Basketball: Pacers give Greene a chance
July 13, 2006 –
The Indiana Pacers don’t have room for another point guard at the moment, but they considered this opportunity too promising to pass on.
He shot just 39.5 percent from the field, including 22.5 percent from 3-point range, but is regarded as an outstanding defender. He was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Louisiana-Lafayette despite playing with a fractured bone in his right foot.
“I was surprised we were able to get him,” Pacers president Larry Bird said. “I really like him.”
The 6-4 Greene signed with the University of Florida out of high school but transferred to the University of Louisiana after two seasons.
Boston coach Doc Rivers praised Greene’s intelligence and defense early last season, and described him as “tough as nails.”
Greene joins a Pacers roster with three point guards already under contract for next season, but a trade could alter that situation.
Originally published July 13, 2006
Orien Greene was a revered figure in Florida in his younger days, but he didn’t act like it when he went to Tampa in the spring to prepare for life in the NBA.
Greene’s eagerness to improve his game helped make the former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun standout a second-round choice of the Boston Celtics (No. 53 overall) in Tuesday night’s NBA Draft in New York City.
“It was an interesting situation,” said David B. Thorpe, the Executive Director of the Five Star Training Center in Tampa. “Orien is a legendary prep figure in the state of Florida, and I didn’t know if he would come in here thinking he was bigger than us, or come in and try to get much better.
“But he was totally willing to learn from Day One.”
Greene had two workouts with the Celtics, cementing their interest with his second performance after Thorpe and his camp altered Greene’s offensive game.
“He really shot it in the second workout,” Thorpe said. “He was able to dominate some good players. And, from that workout, we felt he would go to Boston. In fact, I think his agent told other teams not to pick Orien unless they could guarantee something because we felt certain Boston would pick him.
“When he came to us, we told Orien we have to change your shot. I needed six months but I had six days. The first thing we did was work on his shot from long-range. A close second was his mid-range game.
“We worked on stepping back, and on his pull-up jumper. We wanted him to get back to being a great athlete, and he said the other day that he’s jumping higher than he ever has before.”
Greene has also added six pounds of muscle since leaving the Cajun program, and according to Thorpe “looks like a football player now. In fact, his parents haven’t been here the whole time, and they came today and were shocked by what they saw.”
“Orien Greene has always been very special to our program,” UL coach Robert Lee said. “He’s very gifted. We’re very, very excited for him and for our program that he was picked in the second round, and I think he’ll eventually be a very good NBA player.
“The fact that he has trained hard doesn’t surprise me at all. Since he left school, he’s changed his jump shot. He’s shooting the ball a whole different way. He has put in the work, and he truly deserves this.”
Greene’s concentrated work on offense made sense after being named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference for the 2004-2005 season.
The 6-foot-4 standout overcame a broken leg to help Lee’s Cajuns to a second straight Sun Belt Conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth. In that injury-shortened senior campaign, Greene averaged 11.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while registering 68 steals in 25 games.
“Nobody really understands how talented Orien is,” Lee said. “Last year, because of the injury, people didn’t really see the real Orien Greene. So it’s good to see that the professional teams understand what kind of a player he can be.”
Greene played his first two years at Florida before transferring to UL and helping the Cajuns to the 2003-2004 Sun Belt title. He repeated that feat last season, and now is ready to further elevate his game in the NBA.
Orien Greene is the …
11th UL player ever to be drafted by an NBA club;
First UL player to be drafted into the NBA since Kevin Brooks was a first-round selection and the 19th overall pick in 1991 by the Milwaukee Bucks;
Second UL player to be drafted by an NBA team since the league went to a two-round draft in 1989;
Only player drafted from the Sun Belt Conference this year, and the first from the league since 2002 when Arkansas State center Jason Jennings was a second-round pick by the Portland TrailBlazers;
First non-center drafted from the Sun Belt Conference since 1996, when Arkansas-Little Rock’s Derek Fisher and Western Kentucky’s Chris Robinson were picked.
1974 Fred Saunders, Phoenix Suns
1975 Larry Fogle, New York Knicks
1975 Calvin Crews, Atlanta Hawks
1980 Andrew Toney, Phil.76ers
(1st round, 8th overall selection)
1982 Alford Turner, Denver Nuggets
1983 Dan Gay, Washington Bullets
1984 Dion Brown, San Antonio Spurs
1984 Alonza Allen, L.A. Clippers
1986 George Almones, N.J. Nets
1991 Kevin Brooks, Milwaukee Bucks
(1st round, 19th overall selection)
Orien Greene is the …
11th UL player ever to be drafted by an NBA club.
Originally published June 29, 2005
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Greene back in NCAA
March 18, 2005 –
NASHVILLE – Orien Greene has been to four NCAA Tournaments, two with Florida and two with Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, and there’s a theme for the veteran guard.
“This is my fourth NCAA, and I’ve seen everything but the second and third round,” Greene said before Thursday’s regional practice at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
“It seems like we get pushed out every time by the second and third round.”
Fellow Cajun senior Tiras Wade, meanwhile, was basking in the warmth of his first NCAA experience after transferring from East Tennessee State and sitting out last year’s postseason run by Louisiana.
“It feels good to be starting instead of watching,” Wade said. “I still haven’t gotten the butterflies yet, but I’m looking forward to it.”
First-year head coach Robert Lee is here in a different role than his job as an assistant in the past, and although he’s enjoying the moment he is conceding nothing.
“It’s a real honor for my team to be here,” Lee said. “We’re deserving of where we are right now. Being here (in his first year) is definitely what we planned on.”
Lee, who was asked if his middle initial was “E.”, was pleased with the respect shown his team by the Cardinals on Thursday.
“I hope he (Louisville coach Rick Pitino) sees what I see,” Lee said. “He sees that we have experience and have talent, and that we do have capable players.
“If we don’t turn the ball over an enormous amount of times, if we defend their 3-point shooters, we’ve got a chance.”
Count former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun point guard Eric Mouton among those who are pulling for coach Robert Lee to spring an upset over Louisville here today in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’d like to say how impressed I am with the job Robert Lee has done this year,” said Mouton, who helped Louisiana to its last NCAA victory 13 years ago over Oklahoma.
“For a while, I was off their bandwagon, because I didn’t like some of the individuals they were bringing into the program, but I’m 100 percent glad he’s the head coach.”
Despite getting a late start as the program’s head coach after eight years as an assistant, Lee has led Louisiana to a fourth straight season with 20 or more victories, a school record, as well as postseason as a rookie head coach.
Mouton keeps a close eye on the Cajuns’ fortunes as a coach at his high school alma mater, St. Thomas More.
Unlike members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who toast each year when the NFL’s final unbeaten team falls, Mouton is eager to have the Cajuns do what he and his teammates did in Tempe, Ariz. in 1992 with an 87-83 upset of OU.
“I’m pulling for them,” Mouton said. “I don’t have any champagne on ice.”
Louisiana is making its ninth appearance in NCAA Tournament play, with a 4-9 record in eight previous appearances in 1972, 1973, 1982, 1983, 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2004.
This year’s NCAA berth marks the fourth straight postseason appearance for the Cajuns, with a pair of NIT spots sandwiched between the last two NCAA events.
Previous NCAA sites for the Cajuns have included Las Cruces, N.M., Ames, Iowa, Wichita, Kansas, Houston, Indianapolis, Hartford, Conn., Tempe, St. Petersburg, Fla., Birmingham and Orlando.
When the Cajuns swept three foes at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Denton to earn another NCAA berth, they outscored them by a combined 44 points, forced 16.3 turnovers per game and out-rebounded foes by 11.6 per contest.
That helped UL improve its all-time record in Sun Belt Tournament play to 23-9, a Sun Belt-record .719 percentage.
UL had at least four players score in double figures in each game.
Basketball fans in between games won’t have far to go to do something else.
The Gaylord Entertainment Center is across from the Country Music Hall of Fame and is right down the street from the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Then, of course, there’s the Grand Ole Opry and the Hermitage, the home of favorite son Andrew Jackson.
The main attraction, though, is March Madness. The Opry will have to wait.
Originally published March 18, 2005
Greene means go for UL
March 16, 2005 – Louisiana’s fate closely related to the health, play of senior guard.
If Robert Lee could clone senior guard Orien Greene, he surely would.
About three Greenes would be a good start, especially this Friday when Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns take on the free-shooting Louisville Cardinals in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Nashville.
Greene was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference this season after leading the league in steals with 66 and in general wreaking havoc with his quick hands and long arms.
It’s no accident that the Cajuns hit their stride once Greene returned to action on Jan. 13 after missing a month with a broken leg suffered Dec. 11 at Kansas.
While he was out, the Cajuns looked hesitant. When he got back, they relaxed and played with their usual bravado and confidence.
Then, when they got to the Sun Belt Tournament in Denton, the Cajuns hammered three foes by a combined 44 points to claim a second straight league title and NCAA Tournament berth.
If Reggie Jackson was the straw that stirred the drink for the New York Yankees of the 1970’s, then Greene is clearly the glue that holds the Cajuns together.
“Travis Soileau, our trainer, almost got fired this year,” Lee said in jest. “When Orien got hurt at Kansas and I asked Travis how he was, he said ‘He’s fine. He sprained his ankle.’ It turns out his leg was broken.”
It was a hard month on the court without Greene.
The Cajuns lost to Kansas, at N.C. State and at Vanderbilt while managing wins over Georgia State, McNeese State and Southern Illinois. Then when they opened Sun Belt play at home against Denver and lost to the Pioneers, it was a shock to the system.
When Cajuns then trailed at halftime at South Alabama 29-26, Greene told Lee he could play. He was in for 18 minutes with unspectacular numbers, but gave his team an immeasurable morale boost.
Tiras Wade’s late 3-pointers saved the day, 59-56, but Greene’s uplifting return helped launch a seven-game win streak.
“Orien is only about 70 percent,” Lee said at the time, “but 70 percent of Orien is still pretty good.”
Within three games, Greene was playing 42 minutes in an overtime win at New Mexico State despite still not being 100 percent. He averaged 32 minutes per game for the season and is eager to take the court as long as possible.
“It feels good, period, to be playing again,” said Greene, who will not fully heal until well after the season is completed. “This gives me another shot at the NCAA Tournament, and another chance to further my senior season.”
Greene’s teammates know what he has endured to be on the court, and they appreciate his tenacity as much as they do his talent.
“Orien is like a son to me,” Lee said. “He could have quit a lot of times since he’s been here, with everything he had to deal with about school and life. He could have gone back home to Gainesville (Florida).
“But he said I’m going to stick to it and we told him we’ll get through it.”
Greene originally signed with his hometown Florida Gators out of Gainesville High after being named Florida’s “Mr. Basketball” and leading his school to back-to-back Class 5A state titles.
He was one of five players to see action in every UF game in 2000-2001 as a freshman while chalking up 85 assists and 38 steals.
He started 30 of 31 games in 2001-2002, dishing out 89 assists, getting 61 steals and scoring 5.2 points per game, before deciding to leave the Florida program.
Greene sat out 2002-2003, then missed Louisiana’s first 11 games last season while struggling to regain his academic eligibility.
When he did come back, he had 54 assists and 40 steals as the Cajuns went 14-4 down the stretch.
“Most of the time when you get a transfer, they’ve had some trouble or they want to score the basketball,” Lee said. “When Orien came here, it was because he wasn’t getting enough shots at Florida.
“The first thing you do is get them to understand they’re not going to get the shots they thought they were going to get, and to get them to understand their role. All the guys want to win. They just have to figure out what they have to do to win.”
Greene’s presence has been a big part of winning for the Cajuns, who have gone 31-10 when he’s been on the court and have reached back-to-back NCAA Tournaments for the first time in 22 years.
“If Orien can take with him the same attitude he’s shown here, he’ll have a very successful life,” said Lee.
Originally published March 16, 2005
Hall, Wade, Greene picked
March 03, 2005 –
Greene, Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns senior point guard, rejoined the Cajuns one game into their Sun Belt Conference title defense after breaking a leg last Dec. 11 at Kansas, and UL immediately went to work leading the league in 3-point field goal defense at 31.1 percent.
“I work hard every day on the defensive end, and it looks like it paid off,” said Greene, who leads the Sun Belt in steals with 2.67 per game.
“When we get clicking on defense, it gets us going,” Greene added. “We can get it off the rim and just go. When we do that, I think we can run with any team in the country.”
Greene also averages 11.6 points and 4.14 assists per game for UL.
He and fellow senior Brian Hamilton are 1-2 in steals, with Hamilton at 2.48 per game, and the two also stand together as second-team selections on the All-Sun Belt Team.
Hamilton averages 13.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game for UL, and is fifth in the league in shooting percentage at 54.0.
Louisiana’s lone representative on the first-team All-Sun Belt list is junior wingman Tiras Wade, who was also tabbed as the Newcomer of the Year after transferring to UL from East Tennessee State.
Wade is averaging 19.7 points per game and is second in the league only to New Orleans guard Bo McCalebb’s 22.6. His 531 points through 27 games is the most by a Cajun men’s player since Michael Allen scored 682 and averaged 22.7 per game in 1993-94.
“I really don’t think much about All-Conference honors,” said Wade, who averages 2.48 3-pointers per game and is hitting 80 percent of his free throws.
“I’m glad I’m on the team, and I’m honored, but my main thing is making to the NCAA Tournament. I’ve never been, and I think we’ll have under-accomplished as a team if we don’t get there.”
The Cajuns are 17-10 on the year and finished 11-4 in Sun Belt action, placing second to Denver in the Western Division when they lost two games in Arkansas in the last week of the season. Now they need to recapture their edge for the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Denton, Texas.
“I don’t really dwell on it (All-Sun Belt) so much,” Wade said. “We lost those last two games, and that overshadows everything. Maybe if we had won them it would be different.”
Wade is joined on the first team by Player of the Year Yemi Nicholson of Denver, McCalebb, Florida International’s Ivan Almonte and by Western Kentucky’s Anthony Winchester.
WKU’s Courtney Lee is the Freshman of the Year, while Denver’s Terry Carroll is Coach of the Year after winning the West when his Pioneers were picked to place last.
“All our guys on the All-Sun Belt Team deserve this honor,” UL coach Robert Lee said.
“Tiras proved all season long that he was one of the best players in the conference. Brian is the model of consistency and he’s earned everything he’s gotten since he’s been here. Orien is a very good defensive player and I think he’s a complete player with an uncanny ability on the defensive end.”
Originally published March 3, 2005
Orien Greene will be forced to carry heavy load this season
November 27, 2004
LAFAYETTE – A year ago, Orien Greene had to sit and wait … again.
Greene had just spent a year on the sidelines, watching the University of Louisiana’s squad from a seat on the bench as a sitting-out transfer.
But going into the 2003-04 season, his academic house still wasn’t in order, and he didn’t play in the fall semester. He also didn’t play in the break between semesters.
It wasn’t until last Jan. 17 that the 6-foot-4 transfer from the University of Florida was finally cleared to participate – 22 months after his last game with the Gators.
“It took a while for me to get comfortable,” he said. “There were a lot of new guys to get used to playing with, and I had to get used to the up-and-down again. About the third game, I felt like things were getting back to normal.”
Greene played 28 minutes in that Jan. 17 game and the Cajuns rolled past New Orleans 85-64 at the Cajundome. He played in the next seven, and the Cajuns won all those including a 79-73 win at South Alabama where Greene had 28 points and six three-pointers.
Eventually, he played in UL’s last 18 games, starting three times, and the squad went 14-4 in those games including an 11-2 Sun Belt Conference mark. The Cajuns won the Sun Belt’s West division and the overall league title by three full games.
“I really thought we were getting better just about every game,” Greene said. “But the NCAA’s left a bad taste in our mouths.”
That NCAA outing was the 61-52 loss to North Carolina State in the Phoenix Regional which followed the Cajuns’ Sun Belt Tournament title. Greene had eight points, six assists and six rebounds in that loss, but UL hit only 16-of-49 shots from the field.
The only other non-league loss in that 14-4 run was an 81-76 setback at Rice, which returns that trip today in the Cajuns’ home opener. In that game, UL was on the wrong end of a 28-13 personal foul disparity despite leading for most of the game.
“We had guys in foul trouble, but that’s how it is on the road,” Greene said. “We know we would’ve won if we’d played 40 minutes.”
Greene fouled out of that game against the Owls and was saddled with early foul trouble in the NCAA loss. In fact, he fouled out twice and had four fouls twice in the four games the Cajuns lost after he became eligible.
That’s a situation UL can ill afford right now, given the dearth of depth at most positions and especially at point guard. Greene played 38 minutes at the point Sunday in the 83-69 loss to LSU in the finals of the Louisiana Classic, and had 34 minutes in last Friday’s 84-63 dispatching of Louisiana Tech.
“He wants to be out there every minute,” said Cajun coach Robert Lee, “and we’ve got a tremendous problem without a backup point guard. We’re asking him to pretty much play 40 minutes, and you really can’t do that at this level.
“It may be unfair to him, but that’s the cards we’ve been dealt, so he has to be tough enough to play at least 35 minutes and still be effective.”
Greene finished with 18 points in both games last weekend and added 13 total assists, but was visibly more comfortable in the opener against Tech when he had eight assists and four steals with only one turnover in 34 minutes, hitting 6-of-12 shots and three three-pointers.
Two days later he had five assists and five steals against the Tigers, but also had seven turnovers, hit 7-of-17 shots and was only 2-for-8 outside the arc.
Greene averaged 19.1 minutes as a freshman and 23.8 minutes as a sophomore at Florida before transferring, and despite his 22-month purgatory he averaged 25.8 minutes per game once he returned to action last spring.
“I’m trying to be a 40-minute guy,” Greene said. “Sometimes if I’m dead tired I’ll ask to come out, but I try to suck it up and keep going. You get used to it. It’s probably going to wear on me, but this is my last year and you just do whatever it takes.”
Greene’s game conditioning isn’t at its best thanks to a minor foot fracture he picked up during summer workouts. The fracture healed on its own, but his activity was curtailed during the healing process.
“I just try to go out and win games,” Greene said. “The first game we played, we came out good and did what we were supposed to do. The second game, we didn’t fight for 40 minutes, and we need to get that right.
“I give us a B-minus, maybe a C, for the first weekend, and the only thing that’s acceptable is an A. That’s what we have to do, and we need everybody on track to do that.”
©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser