2009-2010 Oklahoma Sooners Basketball Preview
The Oklahoma Sooners ((30- 6 overall, 13- 3 Big 12), who finished second in the Big 12 last season, made it to the Elite Eight after being eliminated the year before and missing the tournament altogether the year before that. In last year’s March Madness tourney they beat Morgan State, Michigan and Syracuse before being eliminated by the future champs, the North Carolina Tar Heels, 73- 63.
In 2008- 2009, this club was tops in the conference in shooting percentage, hitting 49% from the floor. Third in scoring offense, averaging 78.7 PPG, the team was also third in rebounding margin, coming in at plus-5.6. However, the Sooners shot just 35% (8th) from downtown and 66% (9th) from the free throw line. Scoring defense was weak as the club allowed 67.5 PPG.
With forward Blake Griffin (22.7 PPG, 14.4 RPG, 2.1 BPG) gone to the NBA as the league’s top draft pick and the loss of brother Taylor Griffin (9.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG) and forward Juan Pattillo (5.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG), the Sooners have numerous question marks in the frontcourt. There’s little experience upfront, which means this club has pinned its hopes on Orlando Allen (1.8 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.0 APG) and Ryan Wright (1.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.1 APG). Allen, who played in just 19 games last season, showed solid improvement and Wright, though limited, plays tough around the basket. There are high hopes for freshman forward Keith “Tiny” Gallon; Allen has a 300-pound big presence, soft hands and an on-target shot.
The backcourt got good news when Willie Warren (14.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 3.1 APG), now a sophomore, decided to stay in college ball one more season. Last year he was chosen as Big 12 Freshman of the Year; this season, he could be the league’s top player. He has the ability to hit from outside or to drive and slash and score. Senior guard Tony Crocker (9.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.4 APG) is a downtown shot artist. McDonald’s All-American Tommy Mason-Griffin is a topnotch playmaker with a solid pass and a good eye for the open man.
This season, these Sooners will still be darn good. Coach Jeff Capel has depth issues as Oklahoma tries to replace the points, rebounds, steals and blocks of four important players. This team did not excel by playing tough defense last year. They shot and hit over and over again and again. The Sooners will run and gun their way to being one of the top clubs in the conference. In the tourney, they could make it to the Sweet 16 and perhaps even the Elite Eight.