BATON ROUGE, LA. -- Shaquille O'Neal says he and David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs are the new breed of centers, both 7-footers who can dribble and pass as well as score, rebound and block shots.
No better illustration of O'Neal's belief could be found than one snippet from Tuesday's game between his Louisiana State team and Alabama. With his back to the basket, he dished an over-the-head blind pass to Vernel Singleton for a dunk, rather than turning and taking a 10-foot shot.
"Common sense will tell anybody that if you have two people under the basket, one of them is going to be open," O'Neal said.
"I gave him a cut sign, and he cut, and I got it to him for the dunk. It made him look good, getting the dunk, and it made me look good."
In an earlier game against Auburn, O'Neal led the fast break with a behind-the-back dribble, then dished to Mike Hansen on the wing for a layup.
"I'm a guard, man. I keep telling you," O'Neal said.
"I guess most 7-footers can't dribble. But I'm what you'd call the new breed. I think there are two of us out there -- me and David Robinson. I like to dribble."
Not that there's anything wrong with the rest of his game. He's scoring 27.6 points a game, making 62.9 percent of his shots, rebounding at a 15.4 clip and blocking 5.1 shots a game, all numbers leading Southeastern Conference individual statistics. He also has 1.7 steals a game, tied for seventh in SEC standings.
"And there's one statistic that cannot be kept," said LSU Coach Dale Brown. "And that's the number of shots he has altered, the intimidation factor when someone comes into the paint against him."
Perhaps the most amazing statistic is that O'Neal won't turn 19 until March 6, four days after LSU ends its regular season.
It was pointed out to him that another blocked shot against Alabama would have given him a triple double.
"Yeah, and one more blocked shot and one more turnover and I'd have had a quadruple double," he said.
At least three of his nine turnovers were on full-court outlet passes when he overthrew Mike Hansen on the fast break.
The third time brought Brown off the bench with a "Dammit, Shaquille."
"Coach Brown tells me when I get the ball to look short," O'Neal said. "I like to look long, first. My father always told me that's the way to get the fast break going. If I see Mike long, I try to hit him."
"I guess they were kind of smart turnovers," he said. "It wasn't like I just dribbled the ball off my foot."
Statistically, O'Neal's best game this year was a 53-point, 19-rebound effort in a 98-74 victory over Arkansas State.
However, it was a 92-82 victory over Arizona, in which he had 29 points and 14 rebounds against Arizona's powerful front line that set him dancing.
Following that game, he unveiled the "Shaq-de-Shaq," a brief exhibit of overflowing joy.
He hasn't performed that dance again, but he said there's another in the works just waiting for the proper moment.
"It's called the 'Dunk Mob Tribal Dance,' " he said. "It's going to be me, Shawn Griggs, Vernel and Mike Hansen."
But Hansen, is 6-1 and a three-point shooter. He doesn't dunk.
"Yeah, but he gets us the nice lobs, the nice passes," O'Neal said.
The quartet has rehearsed the dance a little, but it's going to take a special victory to make it public, he said.
"I don't know when. Just wait for it," he said.