Big 12 Summer Update: Oklahoma Sooners

Posted by dnspewak on July 18th, 2012

In an effort to remind you that college basketball does in fact exist during the summer, Big 12 microsite writers Danny Spewak (@dspewak) and Jeremy Pfingsten (@jeremylp21) will roll out three summer updates per week during the next month. The goal is to compile every bit of news and information from the summer months for each team and package it into neat, easy-to-read capsules for your convenience. Next on the list — Danny’s update on Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma Sooners

2011-12 Record: 15-16 (5-13)

Lon Kruger isn’t used to losing. He reached a Final Four at Florida, an Elite Eight at Kansas State, and qualified for seven combined NCAA Tournaments at Illinois and UNLV. This man has been everywhere and won everywhere — well, except for that failed NBA experiment with the Atlanta Hawks — but his first season at Oklahoma did not fare so well. After making promising progress against a fairly weak non-conference slate, Kruger’s team fell flat in Big 12 play. His tactical ability and coaching expertise allowed a roster with a few decent parts to hang tough for the most part, but an eighth-place finish and a losing record will not sit well with Kruger this summer. This is not a program in turmoil anymore, though, no matter how bad the record looks from a year ago. Kruger will indoctrinate his first true recruiting class this summer to mix with the return of his entire starting lineup. His cast of newcomers include a few stud freshman and, most importantly, Wyoming transfer Amath M’Baye, who just might be the biggest story of the whole summer in Norman.

Lon Kruger Has An Impressive Track Record

Summer Orientation: The early reviews on M’Baye are already flattering. The Wyoming transfer, who started every game as a sophomore in 2010-11, is an impact newcomer in every sense of the phrase. He brings worldly experience to the Sooners, having lived in France, Senegal, California and, of course, Wyoming. But his skills are as intriguing as his background. Kruger said M’Baye polished his game considerably as he sat out in 2011-12, improving as both a ball-handler and perimeter player. He’s no longer just a 6’9” forward with a mid-range game and post skills. Now, Kruger said he’s combining that tall, lanky frame with an ability to attack off the dribble and use his elite athleticism to his advantage. His teammates have had nothing but praise for M’Baye, who averaged 12.0 points per game as a sophomore, since he arrived on campus last year. Andrew Fitzgerald called him “very athletic and really competitive” while practicing against him last year, and says he “could be one of the best players in the Big 12.” It is easy to overrate Division I transfers, but M’Baye appears to add a new element to Oklahoma because of his unique versatility as an inside-outside type swingman.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.11.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 11th, 2011

  1. The biggest news in the Big 12 yesterday happened in the ACC. Miami’s DeQuan Jones will sit out the 2011-12 campaign while the NCAA investigates claims that he received $10,000 in cash from the Hurricanes’ coaching staff. Missouri coach Frank Haith, of course, was the head coach of that team, and his assistant, Jake Morton (now at WKU), was accused in a Yahoo! Sports investigation of delivering the actual cash. Jones sitting out doesn’t prove anything, but it means the NCAA’s investigation is serious enough to sideline him for an entire season of basketball. News like this can only continue to build pressure on Haith, who already faces an uphill battle against the fans in Columbia.
  2. We’ve said it a million times before: Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson are the two most important players on Kansas. Taylor missed the first two exhibition games due to a suspension and Robinson was dealing with an injury, but they’re both ready to go now, according to a recent report. Normally, Kansas is so loaded with talent and experience that a player here and there doesn’t make an enormous difference. In this case, though, Bill Self has a team still trying to find its way with considerable unproven talent. Robinson and Taylor cannot miss much game action if this team expects to compete for an eighth straight Big 12 title.
  3. Though most pundits don’t expect much out of Oklahoma this season, the Sooners could surprise the Big 12 if wing Cameron Clark lives up to his status as a sleeper. According to a recent article, Clark has matured into a leadership role and appears to better understand the demands of Division I basketball. He has all the physical skills, and now he’ll just need to grow into a star. It should only be a matter of time.
  4. If you’ve ever watched Kansas State play in person, the first player you’ll notice during pre-game warm-ups is Jordan Henriquez. He’s a seven-footer, but he looks even taller than that. Henriquez could be a dominant force inside this season if the reports are true about his improved tenacity and aggressiveness. Often, it’s hard for players with physical gifts to truly appreciate them until they’re challenged with adversity. It’s scary to think of how good Henriquez could be if he really learns how to play at this level.
  5. Travis Ford is lucky that his Oklahoma State squad has a number of candidates for starting jobs this year. And although it’s every player’s nightmare to hear this, Ford says there are no starting spots locked up quite yet. The Cowboys are especially deep in the backcourt, where any number of players could emerge as options. Up front, OSU will need immediate contributions from newcomers after losing leading Marshall Moses to graduation.
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