KNOW THY ENEMY: Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma

It should come as a surprise to no one that the Oklahoma Sooners are tied with Texas Tech in having the worst overall record in the Big 12.

After all, they were a bad team last year, then lost most of the contributors off that bad team.

While I'm sure Jeff Capel was hoping for some addition by subtraction, what he's mostly ended up with is a relatively talentless, disjointed squad.

For reaction from the other side (assuming you can pry them away from football talk), visit Crimson and Cream Machine. Otherwise, follow the jump for my analysis.

The Story So Far

The Sooners were 8-4 at this point last season, so at 6-6, they've taken an even bigger step backward.

Losses to RPI Top 50 teams Arizona and Kentucky were expected, but still ugly in their margin of defeat. A loss to still-undefeated Cincinnati in Oklahoma City was surprisingly competitive, but a loss nonetheless.

Falling to sub-100 RPI teams Arkansas and Virginia? That's just putrid. And don't even get me started on the failure to dispatch Division II Chaminade in the Maui Invitational, a loss so unspeakably foul that it tarnishes the entire league.

The wins are over Coppin State, Gardner-Webb, North Carolina Central, Oral Roberts, Sacramento State and Texas Southern. Of those, only Oral Roberts has an RPI better than 150 (and it's 149).

Although Oklahoma has won three of its last four, none of those teams is even close to a winning record. And from a different point of view, it could be argued that OU has lost five of its last eight.

Current Oklahoma RPI: 177
Current Oklahoma SOS: 151

Note: All stats for current players are updated through the most recent game this season, unless otherwise noted.

 

The Coach

JeffCapel

Jeff Capel
Fifth Season

88-57 (32-32) at Oklahoma
167-98 (82-54) overall

Bio

 

The Departures

 

Starters

  • Tony Crocker (32.3 minutes per game | 11.4 points per game | 6.2 rebounds per game)
  • Tiny Gallon (24.0 minutes per game | 10.3 points per game | 7.9 rebounds per game)
  • Tommy Mason-Griffin (35.7 minutes per game | 14.1 points per game | 2.9 rebounds per game)
  • Willie Warren (32.3 minutes per game | 16.3 points per game | 3.3 rebounds per game)

Reserves

  • Orlando Allen (7.0 minutes per game | 1.2 points per game | 1.9 rebounds per game)
  • Beau Gerber (1.7 minutes per game | 0.4 point per game | 0.2 rebound per game)
  • Ray Willis (12.2 minutes per game | 2.6 points per game | 2.2 rebounds per game)
  • Ryan Wright (18.3 minutes per game | 4.4 points per game | 4.3 rebounds per game)

 

The Veterans

CadeDavis

#34 Cade Davis
Senior Guard
6-5 | 209
Elk City, Okla.

Bio

36.2 minutes per game | 13.8 points per game | 4.3 rebounds per game

AndrewFitzgerald

#4 Andrew Fitzgerald
Sophomore Forward
6-8 | 226
Baltimore, Md.

Bio

31.1 minutes per game | 14.0 points per game | 6.0 rebounds per game

TJFranklin

#3 T.J. Franklin
Junior Guard
5-11 | 177
Fort Worth, Texas

Bio

1.0 minute per game | 0.8 point per game | 0.0 rebounds per game

KyleHardrick

#25 Kyle Hardrick
Sophomore Forward
6-8 | 212
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Bio

1.0 minute per game | 0.0 points per game | 0.0 rebounds per game

StevenPledger

#2 Steven Pledger
Sophomore Guard
6-4 | 212
Chesapeake, Va.

Bio

29.3 minutes per game | 11.6 points per game | 2.7 rebounds per game

 

The Redshirt

BarryHonore

#31 Barry Honore
Junior Forward
6-7 | 258
Garland, Texas

Bio

6.4 minutes per game | 1.2 points per game | 1.3 rebounds per game

 

The Newcomers

CarlBlair

#14 Carl Blair Jr.
Sophomore Guard
6-2 | 209
Houston, Texas

Bio

22.3 minutes per game | 6.3 points per game | 2.3 rebounds per game

CameronClark

#21 Cameron Clark
Freshman Guard/Forward
6-6 | 189
Sherman, Texas

Bio

30.8 minutes per game | 7.2 points per game | 4.6 rebounds per game

TylerNeal

#15 Tyler Neal
Freshman Forward
6-7 | 215
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Bio

10.1 minutes per game | 4.0 points per game | 2.1 rebounds per game

CalvinNewell

#11 Calvin Newell Jr.
Freshman Guard
6-1 | 193
Philadelphia, Pa.

Bio

14.8 minutes per game | 5.5 points per game | 1.5 rebounds per game

RomeroOsby

#24 Romero Osby
Junior Forward
6-8 | 225
Meridian, Miss.

Bio

13.1* minutes per game | 4.3* points per game | 2.5* rebounds per game

*at Mississippi State in 2009-10

NickThompson

#55 Nick Thompson
Junior Forward
6-9 | 208
Clinton, Utah

Bio

20.6 minutes per game | 5.4 points per game | 4.5 rebounds per game

CJWashington

#5 C.J. Washington
Junior Forward
6-7 | 209
Stringtown, Okla.

Bio

10.1 minutes per game | 1.8 points per game | 3.3 rebounds per game

My thanks to the Oklahoma sports information department for the photos.

 

The Analysis

There's no sugar-coating the fact that last year's Oklahoma team was, simply put, dysfunctional. From Tiny Gallon's recruiting violations to the five-finger discount adventures of Andrew Fitzgerald and Stephen Pledger at a local mall, a me-first attitude permeated Jeff Capel's program last season.

That was evidenced best by the decisions of former McDonald's All-Americans Gallon, Tommy Mason-Griffin and Willie Warren to enter the NBA draft.

Warren, once considered a surefire first-rounder, fell into the second round, as did Gallon. Mason-Griffin went undrafted, probably because he's too short and, frankly, not skilled enough for the NBA.

Their questionable decisions, coupled with the graduation of Tony Crocker, left the Sooners with only one remaining starter, former walk-on Cade Davis. Also departing were reserve players Orlando Allen, Ray Willis and Ryan Wright, although only the latter saw more than cleanup time.

In an attempt to rebuild his shattered and battered program, Capel drew on a variety of sources.

Although he did not draw as heavily upon Division I transfers as Fred Hoiberg did, he still found a few.

Mississippi State transfer Romero Osby will have to sit out this season, but New Orleans transfer Carl Blair Jr. was granted a waiver because that school is reverting to Division III status. Southern University transfer Barry Honoré redshirted last year.

From the JUCO ranks, Capel acquired Nick Thompson and C.J. Washington. I don't know much about the latter, but the former is one of the ugliest humans I've ever seen. He's also displayed a penchant for some thuggish play already this season, but he has started six of 11 games, so Capel must see something in him.

Finally, a freshman class highlighted by McDonald's All-American Cameron Clark has been pressed into action early.

Clark's a regular starter and the Sooners' fourth-leading scorer, while Tyler Neal and Calvin Newell Jr. have played roles off the bench, as well.

While the above players all have a part to play, this team belongs to Davis, Pledger and Fitzgerald — the Sooners' only double-digit scorers. Davis always has been an underrated player with good shooting range, and Pledger has stepped up this season as a combo guard for the Sooners.

The surprise of the season, thus far, is Fitzgerald, who leads the team in scoring.

Last year, he was a dumpy freshman languishing in Gallon's shadow. But he shed more than 30 pounds in the offseason, and his lighter frame has allowed him to stay on the court longer and develop his game further. He's about the only player I'd take off their team.

 

Projected Big 12 Starting Lineup

StevenPledger CadeDavis CameronClark NickThompson AndrewFitzgerald
Steven Pledger Cade Davis Cameron Clark Nick Thompson Andrew Fitzgerald
1 2 3 4 5

 

Projected Top Big 12 Reserves

CalvinNewell CarlBlair CJWashington TylerNeal BarryHonore
Calvin Newell Jr. Carl Blair Jr. C.J. Washington Tyler Neal Barry Honoré
1 2 3 4 5

 

The Final Verdict

The bottom line is that the Sooners are fairly devoid of playmakers.

Davis is a good shooter when left open, but even Chaminade found a way to bother him into taking poor shots and not being too effective. Fitzgerald is a decent player, but most Big 12 bigs should be able to handle him. Clark and Pledger are promising, but very young and very raw.

Compounding the problems are a lack of depth. Like the Cyclones, fatigue, foul trouble and injuries are going to be huge problems for this thin roster. Relying on so many newcomers likewise will lead to breakdowns through inexperience and incomplete chemistry.

Although it can be argued the Sooners play in an "easier" division, the differences between North and South pretty much are marginal at this point. Two games each against Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M are nothing to write home about. A home game against Kansas will be brutal.

I just don't see where this team will find many wins. I guess they do get to play Texas Tech, though.

Big 12 preseason prediction: 11th

My predicted finish: 12th

Best-case scenario: 11th

Against K-State?: Loss in Manhattan

 

Previously on KNOW THY ENEMY...

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  9. Iowa State
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