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Scoping Just The Teams I Remotely Care About: Oklahoma Sooners
October 27, 2007, 12:12 pm
Filed under: Sports | Tags: , ,

(Part One of a series previewing, well, like I said, the NCAA and NBA teams that I care about. If you don’t care about them, well, tough shite, start your own damn blog).

Okay, so the first year of Oklahoma Sooners A.K. (After Kelvin) was a little rough, but credit Coach Capel for rolling with the punches in his first major-conference coaching gig after a successful run at Virginia Commonwealth. Had not Keith Clark gone down with a torn ACL not quite midway through last season, the Sooners would almost certainly have fared better in Big 12 play with his skills around the basket — at least a little.

And “skills around the basket” (or away from it, for that matter) were the Sooners’ Achilles heel: 43.5% FG shooting and 66.8 scoring average are not going to win many league games when you share a conference with the likes of the Blue Meanies from the North (Kansas), whom most pundits think will run away with the conference, or Texas in the South division, which still stands to be a tough out even with the departure of No. 2 draft pick Kevin Durant.

It is hoped that freshman stud Blake Griffin (26.8 ppg and 15.1 rpg as a high school senior), who wowed folks in the McDonald’s All-America game last spring, adapts to big-boy school smoothly and expeditiously. I also hope for big contributions from juco transfer Omar Leary, a pure PG that should hopefully anchor what has been an often spotty backcourt.

Seniors David Godbold (G, 6’5, 7.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg last year) and Longar Longar (C, 6’11”, 10.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg) should be used to this stuff by now, and being their last go-round will probably give them extra motivation. Godbold, LL and juniors Austin Johnson (G, 6’3″, 7.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.8 apg) and Taylor Griffin (F, 6’7″, 6.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) are the last remaining Sooners from the Kelvin Sampson Era.

“IN-A-PERFECT-WORLD” TWADDLE — Blake Griffin has a bang up season and is named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year; the Sooners go .500 in conference play but make a miraculous and improbable run through the Big 12 Tournament (kinda like Maryland in the 2004 ACC Tournament) and win the automatic bid to the NCAAs. Longar Longar becomes the first Sooner to go in the NBA Draft since Eduardo Najera in 2000.

REAL WORLD SLAP IN THE FACE — The Sooners NEED to be more consistent and most of all need to improve team scoring. B. Griffin and Leary, if they adapt, could go a very long ways towards that, as will continued growth from sophomore wing Tony Crocker, who led all Sooners with 25 starts during his freshman season. Clark (coming back from a torn ACL) and Johnson (who has struggled with injuries for much of his OU career) hopefully will remain healthy.

LAST YEAR: 16-15 (6-10 conference), no postseason berth.

NEWBIES: Blake Griffin (6’10” F, Oklahoma City/Oklahoma Christian School; younger brother of junior F Taylor Griffin); Omar Leary (5’10” G, Portland, Oregon/Northeastern Colorado Junior College) Tony Neysmith (6’5″ G, Norcross, Georgia/Norcross HS); Cade Davis (6’5″, G, Elk City, Oklahoma/Elk City HS).

GOODBYES: Nate Carter (11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Michael Neal (10.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg).

HEAD COACH: Jeff Capel (Duke, 1997; second year at OU).

EARLY SEASON MATCHUP TO WATCH: All College Classic, December 20th, versus the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The good news for the Zags is that talented Josh Heytvelt has been reinstated after serving penance (and suspension) for an offense last February. His reinstatement goes a long way towards compensating scoring-wise for the loss of cute-but-deadly Derek Raivio (Co-WCC Player of the Year; 18.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 96.1 FT%). Mark Few is also welcoming a promising freshman class to join mainstays Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin and David Pendergraft. The bad news for the Zags is that even though the All-College Classic is supposedly a neutral court affair, it’s still practically a home game for a Sooner team eager to prove that basketball in Norman, Oklahoma isn’t just for the ladies.


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