For the 27th time, the Oklahoma Sooners have reached the 20-win mark. Coincidentally, it also marks the 27th time Oklahoma has earned an NCAA Tournament bid as Lon Kruger became the first Division I Head Coach to take five different teams to the Big Dance.
There is much to be considered heading into this portion of the season as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the San Diego St. Aztecs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Talent will always play a key factor along with experience, not only from the players but also from the coaches, in the minds of the "experts." For the players, the goal will be to remain focused on the challenge in front of them while making the most of the opportunity.
The current head coach at SDSU is Steve Fisher, a name familiar that may sound very familiar to some. On the other hand, for those of you who don't know, Fisher coached the Michigan Wolverines to the 1989 National Championship and later found himself playing for two more with the Fab Five.
Not only can experience be found in the head coach of the Aztecs, it can also be found on the floor. SDSU is making their fourth consecutive NCAA appearance and will be led by Jamaal Franklin, a do it all type of player. Franklin is averaging 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game which makes for a team high in each category.
"He can score in a lot of different ways," OU coach Lon Kruger said. "He can score from three. He gets to the rim. He's very good off the dribble, gets to the free-throw line. He's a very good offensive rebounder. A good basketball player, plays hard. He's a very involved veteran guy with a lot of experience." - Tulsa World
An on the ball defender with the speed and hands to disrupt Franklin will be key in this matchup at slowing the offensive attack of SDSU.
On the other side of the court will sit Head Coach Lon Kruger and his squad. As was the case with Coach Fisher, Kruger is a seasoned veteran that has garnered attention for his tendency and ability of turning programs around. Here lies the rub. Coach Kruger may very well have the upper hand against the Aztecs as he is familiar with SDSU from his time at UNLV in the Mountain West Conference.
"San Diego State's a talented team, and Steve Fisher's done a great job," Kruger said. "Of course we battled him for a lot of years (when we were) at UNLV. He does a great job. He's got a talented, athletic basketball team and we'll have to keep getting better." - Sooner Sports
OU remains 3-0 against the Aztecs heading into this first round match up. However, the Oklahoma Sooners have no players available with NCAA Tournament experience outside of Romero Osby who was a freshman at Mississippi St. at the time. The undoubted leader and heartbeat of this squad, Osby averages 15.8 points to go along side 7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.
SDSU will have their hands full will Osby alone as he has the ability to shoot from mid-range, play with his back to the goal, and make free throws at a high conversion rate. Look for the game thread prior to the tip on Friday, March 22nd at 8:20 PM CST in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.