We are beginning to see who this Oklahoma Sooners Men's Basketball team really is. Heading into the year, there were many questions left to be answered concerning who this team would turn out to be. With the main goal of this program being to once again reach the NCAA Tournament, the core nucleus had returned giving Lon Kruger a great foundation to work with. It was during the recruitment process that Oklahoma found a few more building blocks to help achieve the goal.
However, the reality of the situation is that the Sooners may have hit a speed bump that could knock the axles off the car. Could this be a product of Kruger making the decision to insert three newcomers (freshmen Je'lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins along with transfer Amath M'Baye) into the starting lineup in place of returning starters?
If you have watched any basketball this season, you will have noticed that it is not the offense that has been winning games for Oklahoma. No, it has been the defense that has held its own. Against better teams like the Arkansas Razorbacks, defense is not enough to come out ahead when the final buzzer sounds.
Back to the crux of the problem. Inexperience can play a role here, but a minor one at best. The real issue here has been pace. It is a known fact that Kruger likes to play at a faster pace than some of the bigger (size wise) teams in the Big XII conference. He has the pieces and depth to consistently push the ball up the floor in transition. Combine this mentality with fundamental rebounding and the speed of this team and a recipe for success is born.
Yet, one component is lacking from the Oklahoma Sooners squad...the understanding of "fast" versus "rushed." A fast mentality keeps the game moving in a controlled fashion. On the other hand, a rushed state leads to a plethora of turnovers and poor shot selection. Pace has been the Achilles' Heel of this team as they have not reached a point where they play controlled on a consistent basis in Kruger's scheme. There are times when they execute flawlessly but others where it goes horribly wrong.
If the Sooners are going to overcome adversity and continue to push toward the prize, they must learn to play fast and controlled while limiting the turnovers. Everything is still on the table at this point but could dwindle in a hurry. Let's hope the players are able to resolve this issue before they hit the meat of their schedule.