One difficult thing about July is the distance between now and college basketball season. Not too many folks around Norman care about the arrival of basketball season in mid-July. Some do, though.
There is certainly excitement surrounding the Oklahoma Sooners and a talented team that features a rising young star in Buddy Hield. Add along a transfer from the Houston Cougars, some promising incoming freshen, and three other returning starters, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good ball team.
Now this quote can’t go unmentioned. It’s a bit foolish, but not far-fetched. However, Buddy Hield is already making a bold prediction for this season.
Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield: “We’re gonna win the Big 12. I’m saying it right now, we’re gonna win the Big 12.”
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) July 11, 2014
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this statement from Hield. I love the confidence and the guts it takes to say something like that, but the Big 12 Title runs through the Kansas Jayhawks, and while Oklahoma should be a tough out this season, the KU basketball team is the exact opposite of its football team.
Regardless, Oklahoma has the potential to be Big 12 Champions. The cast is there, and they will have a lot of preparation in non-conference to gain more experience and build some of the chemistry lost with the departure of seniors Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal, no longer leading the youthful Sooners.
It’s just hard to make that statement after bowing out in the first round in the NCAA Tournament again.
Don’t get me wrong, last season’s team showed glimpses of greatness. They swept the regular season series with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Baylor Bears, and Texas Longhorns. They, also, knocked off a good Iowa State team in Norman, but they had their fair share of head-scratching losses to teams like West Virginia and Texas Tech.
Head-scratching losses are to be expected with a learning team, but to turn the corner and win the Big 12 title the next year is asking a lot. Oklahoma’s consistency has to be better on offense, which while potent, fell off at times in 2014.
For example, Jordan Woodard played about as well as you could ask of a true freshman starting point guard. The big thing for Woodard, however, is to take control as the team’s floor general.
At times, it felt like he shied away from it and let others do the scoring. Maybe that was a case of being a freshman and not wanting to overstep any boundaries, but Woodard has to cease command of the court, much like Austin Johnson did playing with a superstar like Blake Griffin.
The same goes for Ryan Spangler. He is a rebounding machine, and has the potential to go pro, but he has to do on a nightly basis like the fans know he can.
The Sooners definitely will not be short on scoring options. Isaiah Cousins returned, despite a scary summer. They, also, bring back sophomore sharp-shooter Frank Booker.
The status of transfer TaShawn Thomas still remains unclear, but he will provide a big lift to Oklahoma if he can play immediately.
Anyway, back to #24. Buddy Hield’s been impressing scouts and media alike this off-season with his performances at league MVP Kevin Durant’s camp in D.C., as well as LeBron James’ Skills Academy in Las Vegas.
He’s poised for a sensational 2014-15 season, and he could potentially be a first round pick in next year’s NBA Draft.
Oklahoma definitely has the pieces to the puzzle. However, they have to come together for Lon Kruger and his team. The enthusiasm from Hield is great, but it’s a matter of delivering now in a still tough Big 12 conference, which features multiple teams with the potential to dethrone Kansas.
The Oklahoma Sooners will have their first men’s basketball exhibition November 7 against Washburn at the Lloyd Noble Center. Let’s hope Buddy can back up his promise.