2008 Oklahoma Sooners Basketball Preview
In 2007-2008, the Sooners of Oklahoma (23-12 overall, 9-7 Big 12) tied for third in the Big 12 and earned an invite to the Big Dance. They beat St. Joseph’s 72-64 in the first round and then got hammered by Louisville 78-48. This season with some experienced returning talent, fine junior college transfers and top recruits, Oklahoma looks to get back to the Big Dance and go deep into the tournament.
Sophomore Blake Griffin (28.4 MPG, 14.7 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 56.8 FG%, 58.9 FT%) is a tough under-the-rim presence ably putting up 10 double-doubles in his freshman season. Despite two knee injuries and an operation last season, Griffin missed just one game. His brother, senior Taylor Griffin (21.9 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.9 APG, 42.8 FG%, 76.8 FT%), is a big-bodied rebounder who needs to play more aggressively. Big and athletic UCLA transfer Ryan Wright is a fine defender and rebound man. Talented junior college transfers include six-foot-eleven center Orlando Allen and six-foot-eight forward Kyle Cannon.
Freshman combo guard Willie Warren, a consensus All-American who averaged 24.9 PPG and 4.7 APG while leading his team to the Texas 5A State Championship, will start. He’s a playmaker, point-scorer and leader. Junior Tony Crocker (30.6 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 44.1 FG%, 72.3 FT%) is ready to have a breakout year. He’s got a solid three-pointer and is expected to be a better ball handler and more reliable player this season. Senior point guard Austin Johnson (31.3 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 39.4 FG%, 73.3 FT%) will see minutes as long as he can play with consistency. Freshman Ray Willis has scoring chops.
In coach Jeff Capel’s second season, the Sooners were seven
wins better than they were in 2006-2007. As Capel starts his third
year with the club, there are high expectations. With talent, experience
and athleticism on board a first of second place Big 12 finish is
within this team’s grasp. Of course in order to finish first,
they will have to master Baylor and Texas. A Sweet 16 or Elite Eight
showing is possible.