The upcoming collegiate basketball season lies just around the corner. For Oklahoma Sooners, the bar has been raised as the program looks to not only secure their first post-season win under Coach Lon Kruger but also contend for the Big XII Championship. The pursuit begins with the players.
The key is always players. The experience that they gained from last year, I think, will help. They know how tough it is to win conference games. They know how tough it is to win postseason games. They want to do that. They worked awfully hard in the off-season in preparation for the start of practice. Again, the leadership of this group with Ryan and Buddy and Isaiah is outstanding, and Jordan Woodard, as a sophomore, understands more clearly what Big 12 games are all about and how tough it is. As good of a freshman year he had, I think we'll see a big jump going into his sophomore year from him. The perimeter depth is good, and that's always important to win games in postseason. - Lon Kruger at Big XII Media Days
Although the Sooners lose Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal to graduation along with Je'lon Hornbeak to a transfer, the program has a core group to build around. Making significant improvement between his freshman and sophomore years, everything could finally come together for Buddy Hield who anchors this Oklahoma squad.
I thought as a freshman, Buddy was a little bit more aggressive in attacking the rim and going to the offensive boards. Last year a little more perimeter oriented and shot the ball and had a good year. I think we'll see him combine the two and attack a little bit more off the dribble and make him more effective in shooting the ball. I think we'll see a more well-rounded game out of Buddy. He's worked awfully hard at it. - Lon Kruger
Now with an experienced and budding point guard who understand Big XII play in Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma could potentially surprise a few teams on the national level. However, all of that hinges on the post play in the early going as perimeter play often dictates the post season. Kruger acknowledged the idea, pulling in a few recruits and adding depth in the blocks after Ryan Spangler worn down throughout the duration of the season.
Immediate eligibility for Houston transfer, TaShawn Thomas exponentially increases the output of the post position instantly. The only question that remains: will Thomas be available for the Sooners during the 2014 season?
Expect to hear something soon. Don't know what that means exactly. We kind of thought that the last ten days or so, but really do think it's soon now. Don't have any idea. We feel like he's a great kid, on course to graduate, done everything right. He's represented well, and, again, we're hopeful of an additional eligibility, immediate eligibility. We'll find that out soon. Don't have any idea.
No one seems to have the answer to that question as the NCAA appears to continue dragging their feet.