Oleson hating life on the bench (Basketball)

December 4, 2009
Brad Oleson

For the first time in his career, Brad Oleson is sitting rather than playing. And he’s hating it.

“Watching from the bench sucks,” he told me recently.

“This is by far my worst injury. I thought surgery was gonna fix everything when I got it in August. But I thought wrong, I guess.”

Oleson, of UAF fame, is in his first season with Euroleague power Caja Laboral of Spain, the team that traded for the North Pole player last summer in a blockbuster deal.

The 6-foot-3 two guard signed a five-year contract but has played just three games so far because of a nagging ankle injury.

“I don’t know how long I’m gonna be out,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be back until I’m pain free. I tried to play through the pain … it didn’t work out so well. My ankle was getting worse.”

When healthy, Oleson is a deft shooter who can known down shots from all over the perimeter. This year he’s shooting 50 percent (7 for 14) on 3-pointers while averaging 8.7 points in 20 minutes. Last season with the Spanish team Fuenlabrada, he averaged 18 points and won the Rising Star Award, the same honor Ricky Rubio once won.

Last week, his team dropped a 71-67 decision to fellow Alaskan Trajan Langdon’s CSKA Moscow squad. It was the first time Oleson got to watch the former East High and Duke University All-American in person.

“It was great watching Trajan play,” he said. “I mean growing up, following his career, I had heard so much about him. Finally got a chance to meet him; it was great.

“Of course I was a little upset I didn’t get to play. I would have been matched up with him for sure. But right now my ankle is the most important thing for me.”

Langdon, now 33, scored 13 points, including a few late in the game to seal the deal.

“Yeah, he’s 33, but he gets the job done out there,” Oleson said. “He hit some big shots in the fourth that killed us.”

When the teams face off again in Russia in a few weeks, Oleson hopes to be back on the court.

“I’m crossing my fingers,” Oleson said.

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