Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
At a scoring pace of 66.9 points per game, the Oklahoma Sooners rank 195th nationally in scoring. While part of the issue is breaking in three young freshman to the world of college basketball, a major solution could be 6-9 forward Amath M'Baye.
Its too soon to say that M'Baye is in a slump but he's dangerously close. A new starter into the lineup this season, after sitting out last year due to the transfer rule, M'Baye was voted as the preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. As the season started out it appeared as if the transfer from Wyoming was well on his way to living up to those accolades.
M'Baye is quick with the ball, a powerful shot blocker, and can rock the rim with the best of them. He's got a great work ethic and terrific attitude, but he's stopped looking to score. Since leading the Sooners in scoring against Arkansas, on December 4th, M'Baye has all but stopped scoring. In the last two games, against Texas A&M and Stephen F Austin, he has a combined three points.
Oklahoma needs more of this from M'Baye
You can't really call what M'Baye is going through as a potential shooting slump because he's not shooting...at all. He went 0-3 against A&M and 1-2 against SFA, from the floor, in a combined 36 minutes of play. A guy with M'Baye's talent, and potential, can't live with those numbers but Lon Kruger says that he believe his forward will come around.
"We know he's got the skill and the ability to perform at a much higher level than normal, and no one is more frustrated by it than Amath," Kruger said. "He is in there all the time. It'll happen for him, and everyone wanted it and he expected it to happen more quickly, and that is a little bit frustrating as a result. But still, the only thing to do is to keep investing and working, and there is no question that Amath will do that."
Oklahoma needs M'Baye to turn it around, and to do so quickly. Word from the practice gym is that no one wants to see that happen more than Amath M'Baye himself. If its just a confidence issue then the only way out of it is for him to shoot the ball...more than three times a game.
The season is still young and Oklahoma is still finding its identity. They are a team that is going to crash the boards and be stingy on defense. Offensively though, their identity may rest upon who Amath M'Baye decides to become.