2012-2013 Overall Rank: #90
Conference Rank: #8 Big 12
Oklahoma Team Page
It is just a matter of time before Coach Lon Kruger turns around the reeling Oklahoma program. During his first year with the Sooners, Coach Kruger managed to win just five conference games. The conference slate will be a little easier with Texas A&M and Missouri off in the SEC, but this is a Sooners squad that lacks size and that does not bode well against a team like West Virginia. The OU frontcourt relies heavily on Romero Osby and Andrew Fitzgerald. Osby is a good scorer and a great rebounder, but his toughness can only take the Sooners so far. Fitzgerald can do a lot of scoring and a little bit of everything else. Coach Kruger kept him under the basket more last season, but he is still not a particularly strong rebounder. Tyler Neal is a good backup power forward, but is not the big, strong post presence this team needs. There were high hopes for junior college transfer Casey Arent, but the 6-10 center averaged a mere 6.1 minutes per game as a junior.
2011-12 Record: 15-16, 5-13
2011-12 Postseason: None
Coach: Lon Kruger
Coach Record: 15-16 at Oklahoma, 494-320 overall
The good news is that Coach Kruger gets to keep rebuilding with the same players he had last year. Although, that may be bad news too. Calvin Newell transferred to UCF after playing in just five games last season and the only relatively significant departure among C.J. Washington, T.J. Franklin and Barry Honore is that of 6-7 forward Washington. He was a solid rebounder and averaged nearly a dozen minutes per game.
Coach Kruger is starting to get his players into the program and the overall quality depth is certainly going to be much, much better than it was last year. Whether or not that leads to any more victories in the Big 12 remains to be seen. D.J. Bennett and Amath M’Baye are both experienced big men who will help the overall size of the team. Bennett, a junior college transfer, is not a scorer, but he is a lanky 6-8 forward who can block some shots and grab a few rebounds. M’Baye is the larger and more experienced option. Two years ago as a sophomore, the 6-9, 215 pounder started all 31 games for Wyoming. He may have some trouble battling in the paint with the tough post players in the conference, but he is a great fit for what Coach Kruger has going right now. M’Baye, who averaged 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds with the Cowboys in 2010-2011, can get up and down the floor pretty well for a big man. C.J. Cole is the lone incoming freshman that can make an impact in the frontcourt, but he will likely need some time to develop his game. Steve Noworyta, Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield and Jelon Hornbeak are the higher regarded incoming players. Hield and Hornbeak are a couple talented shooting guards who could make a major contribution off of the bench. Jarrod Kruger, nephew of Coach Kruger, is eligible this season after transferring from Kansas State.
Who to Watch:
Oklahoma got a lot of quality production out of their starting backcourt. Point guard Sam Grooms arrived from the juco ranks and immediately took over the starting job. He is not a shooter, or much of a scorer at all for that matter, but he proved to be a great point guard who can dictate tempo, find his teammates and keep the turnovers down. On the year Grooms averaged 6.0 assists and just 2.1 turnovers. That is pretty impressive for his first year in the program. Year two should be even better. Steven Pledger and Cameron Clark were often the beneficiaries of Grooms’ playmaking ability. Pledger easily led the team with 16.2 points per game and connected on an impressive 41.6 percent of his attempts from long range. Pledger also has the ability to attack the basket and that dynamic scoring ability is very tough to stop. Clark, a 6-6 junior, built upon his successful freshman campaign in 2010-2011 and averaged 8.5 points last year. He is not a shooter at all, but he will use his big frame to finish above the rim. Just as importantly, Clark is a quality rebounder on the wing.
The Sooners should have much higher expectations this year than they did during Coach Kruger’s first year at the helm. Coach Kruger is known for rebuilding programs and that is exactly what he will do in Norman. Doing it in the Big 12 will be tough, but this team will take steps forward during the 2012-2013 campaign. That may not result in a great record, but it should result in a winning record and likely a postseason trip to the NIT, CBI or CIT. And this is a program that could use a postseason berth since they are very senior heavy and winning is the best way to get the recruits to come back to OU.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Sam Grooms, Senior, Guard, 6.7 points per game
Steven Pledger, Senior, Guard, 16.2 points per game
Cameron Clark, Junior, Guard, 8.5 points per game
Romero Osby, Senior, Forward, 12.9 points per game
Andrew Fitzgerald, Senior, Forward, 12.1 points per game
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#125 Jelon Hornbeak
#128 Buddy Hield