Conference play begins Saturday for Big 12 basketball and the Sooners are hosting the Kansas State Wildcats. This is a huge game for Oklahoma because on Monday the Sooners travel to Lawrence to play the Kansas Jayhawks. Should OU fall on to the Wildcats they are most likely looking at an 0-2 start to conference play.
We invited the Kansas State fan site Bring on the Cats to come aboard the Machine to answer five question we had about Kansas State basketball program.
BOTC: From what I've seen of OU, and I've only watched about two of its games, Blake Griffin is a huge threat. He's athletic, he defends, he rebounds, and he has good post moves for a true freshman.
Where Beasley probably sets himself apart from Griffin is on the perimeter. Griffin appears to really be a "true" post player because he doesn't step outside and handle the ball or knock down the outside shot (he's missed his only attempt on the year). Beasley has a different skill set, in that he can step outside and take a bigger defender off the dribble or knock down an open three-pointer (he's 12-for-34 on the year).
All that said, I'm plenty worried about B. Griffin on Saturday.
Tell us a little about the way K-State plays defense
BOTC: Poor defense, usually. Despite some pretty impressive defensive stats--we're in the top 10 as far as defensive efficiency, according to Ken Pomeroy--our players continue to play lazy defense, relying on athletic ability to get them back into plays. In addition, they apparently haven't mastered the principles of a rotating man-to-man defense, so a ball-movement offense has a high probability of rotating the ball and finding a wide-open shooter at some point (see: the Xavier game).
On Tuesday against Savannah State, coach Frank Martin unveiled a 3-2 zone that was fairly effective. New arrival Dominique Sutton--think a skinnier version of last year's Akeem Wright--played out top and was very disruptive. Now, it was Savannah State, but given the thorough lack of ability to play man-to-man so far this year, I'd be happy to see more of that defense.
Who else, besides Beasley, do Sooner fans need to watch out for on Saturday?
BOTC: Bill Walker is the most obvious suggestion. When he is on, and attacking the basket, and playing with intensity, he is a force to be reckoned with. This season, he's put up a couple 30-point, 10-rebound games. But he's prone to frustration and laziness/lack of focus, which can take him out of a game almost entirely.
My darkhorse to watch for is Fred Brown knocking down outside shots. You'll think I'm crazy the first time you see his release, because he shoots the ball from his chest. But he's knocking down 46 percent of his three-pointers this year. We need that to continue so we can bust up the dreaded 2-3 zone defense that most of our opponents will likely throw at us.
With a 10-4 record are you satisfied with the season to this point or a bit disappointed?
BOTC: I'm more than a little bit disappointed, but as I mentioned yesterday we have to remember that most of our players are true freshmen this year. It really is a step up to play Division I basketball. It's going to be another step up to start Big 12 play, but I'm hoping non-conference tests against Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame and Xavier got this team ready for the play they will see Saturday.
Basically, I'd like to be 11-3 at this point with the extra win coming over either Oregon, Notre Dame or Xavier. We really needed one of those to improve our resume. Most of the disappointment stems from the fact that now we need to win a lot of conference games to make the Dance.
What aspect about Oklahoma's game concerns you the most?
BOTC: The Sooners' ability to move and shoot the ball concerns me most. As I mentioned earlier, our man defense is not very good. I can envision the Griffin brothers getting us into foul trouble down low while Tony Crocker bombs away from three. Not a pretty picture.
On an intangible level, the fact that it's our kids' first conference game, and it's on the road, concerns me greatly. We haven't played a true road game yet, although we've played away from Manhattan plenty. Conference play is going to be a new experience for most of our players, and we need to make sure it's not an eye-opening experience.
Bring on the Cats has returned the favor
And asked me some questions about this game as well. You can find my answers here.