Oklahoma State toys with slow-paced Delaware State, 75-43 to improve to 11-1

The 7th ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys dug their collective heels into the outmanned Hornets of Delawaree State, winning 75-43 to improve to 10-1 on the college basketball season. Coach travis Ford’s team enjoyed flexing their muscles – and clearing off the bench – in a win that kicks off OSU’s academic break.

Le’bryan Nash and Markel Brown each had 14 points to lead the balanced attach, as 9 different Cowboys had at least one assist. The next game will undoubtedly be a much bigger challenge for the Pokes… as they travel to Las Vegas and squaree off against Colorado Saturday night… the Buffs moved up to 20th in the A-P Poll after muscling past OSU’s biggest Big 12 rival, Kansas.

It’s too early to tell, but if the Pacers are the NBA’s best, where does that leave the Thunder?

IMG_5007A confident and aggressive OKC Thunder squad won a league-best 10th straight home game to start the season, a commanding 118-94 win over the Indiana Pacers, who came into the game with the NBA’s best record. Granted, the Pacers were closing out a long road trip with back to backs in San Antonio and OKC, but this game did seem to mean something to the Thunder. OKC and Indiana don’t meet again until the closing weeks of the season at Indiana.

If you can’t catch my wrap of the game on KOSU Monday morning starting at 6:30 a.m., then you can hear it here. And please remember to tune in to KOSU-FM in Oklahoma for Sports Talk Wednesday morning or catch the segment on KOSU.org.

Managing the grind a championship task for OKC Thunder

In the latter weeks and months of a professional sports season, the concept of “the grind” is cliche. The long professional sports seasons take physical tolls on every team, regardless of the sport. So in a sense, it’s obvious to make such a claim late in the year.

Great teams, championship professional teams, however, understand the grind is a year-long process. Managing the grind in November is perhaps even more important to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s championship hopes than any of those late-season off days that Derek Fisher or even the minutes monster Kevin Durant will be given by head coach Scott Brooks.

Case in point: Sunday night’s visit from the woeful Utah Jazz to Chesapeake Energy Arena, game three of a six game home stand that spans the Thanksgiving holiday. Russell Westbrook, still regaining his conditioning after overcoming major off-seaosn knee surgery, was given the night off. Derek Fisher, the 100-year-old backup point guard, played Westbrook’s minutes early, then took a seat. (OK, relax – he’s only 39. Geez.)

The Jazz played along, looking a lot like a D-league team for the better part of three quarters in OKC’s 95-73 win. The Thunder led 75-43 after three quarters.

Here are some things that help at this – or any time – of a long season. Kendrick Perkins got to play hard, early. The big center has been grieving over the death of his grandfather, and in the opening half he and the Thunder as a team were dominant in the paint. It didn’t matter that Perkins was mostly racking up fouls. He played lane-spacing defense and showed his scowl for a bit, and I’m sure those 21 minutes helped him focus on hoops.The Thunder outrebounded Utah 46-33 and shot 50.7 percent from the floor.

We mentioned Fisher and his early 9:29 of court time, but more importantly Steven Adams stayed on the floor for extended stretches, something the young player needs to gain  - and earn – confidence when the grind games roll around later in the year.

And then there is Perry Jones, the former Baylor Bear now in his 2nd season. the 6-11 Jones made the most of 19 minutes, hitting 5 of 7 from the floor including three of three from the three point line, scoring a season high 13 points. It’s tough to prove to your coach and teammates you can help down the stretch when you’re a forward playing behind Kevin Durant.

Of course, Durant led the team – and the game – with 19 easy points. The Thunder improved to 9 and 3, with three more home games, including two sandwiching Thanksgiving Wednesday night against the Spurs and Friday versus Golden State.

Listen to Sports Talk on KOSU-FM Wednesday morning at 6:30 am (and throughout the morning). Here’s the wrap from the Thunder-Utah game as heard on KOSU, plus some extra cuts from the post-game. .

A special season ahead for OSU hoops fans?

Just one game. But finally, a game that counts. And it’s easy to see why Travis Ford – and his collection of players surrounding perhaps the NCAA’s top player Marcus Smart – seem giddy about getting in the saddle to start the season.

Pom - Squad dances on floor_1 063523;05Junior Le’Bryan Nash (21 pts, 10 reb) earned his first double-double and as it turned out the 6th ranked Oklahoma State University Cowboys didn’t even need the sophomore Smart (11 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 19 mp), racking up their highest scoring game since January 3, 2009, crushing Mississippi Valley State 117-62. The 55 point margin of victory was the 10th largest in OSU history.

Granted, Mississippi Valley’s program is in a dismal state, but what should be promising for Cowboys fans – and should get the attention of those around the nation – is the way these guys smelled blood and didn’t lose focus, something OSU teams might have done in the past once the blowout was a foregone conclusion.It was the type of effort Travis Ford is expecting out of this team.

It is as if there is a realization in the air that the stars are aligning for the Pokes. First, Smart didn’t opt for the NBA draft after his sophomore season, despite the possibility he might have been a lottery pick. Second, the arrival of one of Oklahoma’s most exciting prep recruits to complement the returnees, has already turned up the fun meter a notch.

Stevie Clark, the highly touted scorer out of Oklahoma City’s Douglass High School, had more assists than the entire Mississppi Valley team (8), scoring 8 points with 2 steals in 23 Division I minutes, impressing this game’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Phil Forte (22 pts, 6-9 FG, 4-7 3 pt) a sharpshooter in his own right.

This was not a game where the superior team ran up the score. Everybody who was healthy played, and Smart sat early inthe first half ,after picking up a couple of quick fouls. In a sense, that foul trouble was a blessing for the other veterans like Nash, Brian Williams (14 pts, 7 reb) and Markel Brown (14 pts, 4 assists before fouilng out), playing with confidence and energy to build an impressive 63-29 halftime lead. After struggling relatively from the floor during their two exhibition games, the Cowboys outside shooting was consistently good (60 % in the first half, 62.5 second) and they hit 12 of 21 3-point attempts as well.

OSU opens with four games at home before entering the holiday tournament season, hosting Utah Valley State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff before Memphis comes to Stillwater on the 15th of November.

Coale to Coach America’s Best

OSU @ Oklahoma<br />February 10, 2013I think the USA women’s basketball future is in the right hands, with the announcement of the University of Oklahoma’s Sherri Coale as new coach of the team as they prepare for the World University Games this summer in Russia. If my daughter had played hoops at this level, I would have loved her to play for Coale, and I can’t think of a higher compliment.

See the press release below or find more on their website at soonersports.com.

NORMAN, Okla. – University of Oklahoma head women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale will lead Team USA at the 2013 Women’s World University Games this summer in Kazan, Russia, USA Basketball announced Tuesday.

It is Coale’s first head coaching assignment with USA Basketball. Coale served as an assistant for the 2001 bronze-medal winning Junior World Championship Team and as a USA Basketball Women’s Collegiate Committee member from 2005 to 2008.

“It was an absolute honor to serve USA Basketball as both an assistant coach and a selection committee member,” Coale said. “Representing our country via this sport that I love is the ultimate opportunity–an opportunity that I don’t take lightly and one that I am humbled to accept.”

Coale will be assisted by Brian Giorgis, head coach of Marist College, and Coquese Washington, head coach at Penn State. The staff was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

“In addition to the experience of coaching some of our country’s finest collegiate athletes,” Coale added. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside of Brian and Coquese. I have great respect for each of these coaches, not only for the programs they have built on their respective campuses, but also for their ambassadorship of our game. I look forward to learning from them and working with them to make this an amazing experience for the student athletes we will lead into international competition.”

Organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and held every other year, the World University Games is a multi-sport competition open to men and women who are between the ages of 17 and 24 (born Jan. 1, 1989 through Dec. 31, 1995). USA Basketball considers athletes with remaining collegiate eligibility only. The 2013 World University Games will be played July 8-15.

Including the USA and host Russia a total of 16 nations will compete in the 2013 World University Games women’s basketball competition, which also will feature teams from Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Mongolia, Poland, Sweden, Taiwan and Ukraine.

“Obviously all three coaches have been successful,” Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach and chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, said. “Sherri has had international experience, and Coquese has had the opportunity to serve on a committee for USA Basketball. It’s a staff where their strengths complement each other.”

USA Basketball women’s teams have participated in 16 prior World University Games and collected a record eight gold medals, six silvers and one bronze medal. Further, since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the WUGs, the United States has compiled a 95-15 record.

Team USA posted a 6-0 record en route to a gold medal in the 2011 World University Games.

Trials to select the 12-member team will take place May 16-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., and approximately 35 players will be invited by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee. A final training camp will resume at the USOTC June 25.

Chaired by Foster, the 2013-16 USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee includes NCAA appointees Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb, California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb and Central Florida head coach Joi Williams, as well as athlete representative Kara Lawson, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist who has been a part of nine USA Basketball teams.

USA Basketball
Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Basketball is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for men’s and women’s basketball in the United States. As the recognized governing body for basketball in the U.S. by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of USA teams that compete in FIBA sponsored international basketball competitions, as well as for some national competitions.

USA teams are the current men’s and women’s champions in the Olympics, men’s and women’s FIBA World Championships; women’s FIBA U19 World Champions; men’s and women’s FIBA U17 World Champions; and the men’s and women’s U18 and U16 FIBA Americas champions; as well as winners of the women’s FIBA 3X3 World Championship and 3×3 U18 World Championship.

Brace the snow, watch OU Women vs Baylor for free

The University of Oklahoma may be closed down for studies due to inclement weather, but the game – at least for now – will go on at Lloyd Noble Center tonight (Monday, February 25, 2013.)The OU women are hosting the defending national champs and the NCAA Player of the Year from Baylor in a key Big 12 matchup.

They’re letting anyone who can make it in for free; hopefully only those who live within a snow walk of the game will brave expected bad road conditions. Baylor was obviously already in town, and since it’s a nationally televised game (ESPN2) the game goes on.

They’re also giving away free hats to the first thousand folks in attendance.  I’ll be home watching it and hoping everyone gets in and out safely tonight, as central Oklahoma tries to avoid the brunt of a huge winter storm that is hammering the western part of the state and the Texas panhandle.

The bummer is this week’s taping of SoonerSports Pad is off. We have a terrific package done by student Michael Runyan profiling Morgan Hook, the team’s starting point guard. I guess we will run it next week!

Here’s the story from sooner sports.com

NORMAN, Okla. – Due to expected inclement weather, admission to Monday’s women’s basketball game between Oklahoma and Baylor, tipping off at 6 p.m., at Lloyd Noble Center will be free. Here are details on the game:

FREE ADMISSION
All fans will be admitted free of charge (doors open at 4:30 p.m.). However, season ticket holders and other fans who purchased tickets for the game in advance will have first right to occupy their reserved seat locations. If you already have tickets, please bring those with you for access to that seat location.

For those without tickets, all seats not occupied by the season ticket holder or by fans who purchased tickets in advance will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

PARKING
Parking lots on all sides of Lloyd Noble Center are expected to be open.

FREE HATS FOR FIRST 1,000
Monday’s promotion of Coach Coale-designed hats given to the first 1,000 fans through doors will continue as scheduled. The hat is also available for purchase on OU’s official online store.

Final: OU 73-67 Sooners Men’s Hoops Vs Texas

(Updated at end of game)
Senior forward Romero Osby scored a career high 29 points to go with 8 rebounds to lead Oklahoma to a 73-67 win over Big 12 rival Texas, giving the Longhorns (8-10) an 0-6 mark for the first time in their Big 12 history. The Sooners improved to 13-4 and 4-1 with their 6th win in seven games.
Junior Amath M’Baye threw down three spectacular dunks via the lob and finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds. Freshman Buddy Hield was also in double figures with 12 points, as Oklahoma shot 48 percent from the field against the nation’s number two FG% defense.

The Longhorns narrowed a double digit second half deficit to four points when Cameron Ridley’s three made it 69-65 with 1:00 to play. before the Sooners closed out the win. Oklahoma next plays Saturday at Kansas.

Sheldon McClellan came off the bench to score 25 to lead the Longhorns, who host Texas Tech Saturday night, January 26th.

(Updated 10:22 pm)
M’Baye’s electrifying leaping ability led to at least three lob slams, including one from Sam Grooms on the break to give Oklahoma a 63-55 lead at 4:20. With Osby taking a breather, Texas threatened to close the gap before Hield’s strong left side baseline bucket gave Oklahoma an 11 pt lead with 3:05 to play.

Updated 10:14 pm
OU 59-52 6:43 remaining)
The Sooners finally hit a couple of threes, one each for Osby and freshman Jelon Hornbeak to keep the surging Longhorns at a distance. Texas’ biggest weapon is the sneaky scorer Sheldon McClellan, who leads them off the bench. He had 21 of his team’s first 52 points.

(Updated 10:07 pm)
Osby’s two free throws at 9:31 in game equals his career high at OU with 24 pts.

(Updated A 10:04 pm) As the Longhorns’ young big men wore down, Oklahoma’s most reliable scorer up front began to go to school. Senior Romero Osby set his sights on his career high of 24 points, scoring 22 in the first 28:00 to help OU push their lead to 12 at 50-38 with 11:14 to play.
(Updated 9:55 pm OU 45-36)
One of the most spectacular plays of the game came when the Sooners defense allowed them to run. Veteran floor leader Steven Pledger partially blocked a Longhorn attempt, ran with. The loose ball and found a soaring, streaking M’Baye for a slam that gave the Sooners their biggest lead at 9 pts.
(Updated at 9:50 pm with OU leading 38-34)
Texas defense limited the Sooners perimeter attempts. Averaging more than 15trey tries a game, OU was 0-3 in first 24 minutes. Their fewest three point attempts in a game this year came in a one point win at Oral Roberts (2 of 10).

(Updated at 9:40 start of second half)
Big stat from first half? Texas’ bench out scores OU’s 20-2 in the first half.

(First Half updated at 9:29 pm) Buddy Hield’s early lob to Amath M’Baye brought the “Cheer Like A Champion” t-shirt wearing crowd to their feet early, as Oklahoma (12-4, 3-1)built an early lead. But the game never got rolling until the Longhorns (8-9, 0-4) tried to muscle up on OU.

Neither team has enough size to say they can go “big”, but Texas tried with three freshmen wide bodies, 6-9 Cameron Ridley, 6-10 Prince Ibeh and 6-9 freshman Conner Lammert They overcame an 8-4 deficit with a 9-2 run to take a 13-10 lead midway through the first half.

What Texas is best at is denial. They led the NCAA in 3 pt fg% defense coming into the game and were second in overall fg% defense (.345), which works best when you don’t allow second shots, which they accomplished until the closing minutes of the half.

Once OU got into an offensive rhythm, they weren’t missing their first shots, thanks mainly to the inside work of leading scorer Romero Osby. He had 14 points at half on 5 of 8 shooting as the Sooners took a 30-26 lead to the break.

OU Women Drop Home Opener vs UCLA Bruins

The visiting UCLA Bruins used a size advantage and aggressive defensive approach to hold off a late Sooners charge at home for an 86-80 win in Norman. The Sooners had claimed victories in their previous 14 home openers.

UCLA (2-0) opened up an eighteen point lead midway through the second half before OU (1-1) narrowed the game to a single point in the final minute before UCLA held on for the win. The Sooners made just 19 of 31 free throws.

Aaryn Ellenberg moved into second place in school history for career threes by nailing her first two three pointers of the game as she scored 20 1st half points, but UCLA limited her chances in the second half. Ellenberg finished with seven three pointers and 24 points to lead four Sooners in double figures. Whitney Hand picked up the scoring slack in the second half for OU with 16 of her 19 points.

UCLA out scored OU 46-24 in the paint, with four players in double figures, including Alyssia Brewer with 15 points and 16 rebounds.

The Sooners were dominated on the offensive boards 56-34 as the visiting Bruins pulled down 24 offensive rebounds. UCLA entered the game unranked nationally while OU came in at number 11 in the AP poll.

The Sooners and Bruins met for just the 4th time in the history of the two storied women’s programs. The series is now even at two wins each. Oklahoma plays next at home against St. Louis University while UCLA prepares for upcoming games versus Notre Dame and Princeton.

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Expectations Getting “Big” For Kruger’s Sooners

Sooner  basketball getting attention in Kruger’s second season at the University of Oklahoma. For the first time since Blake Griffin’s days the Sooners will be featured on ESPN’s “Big Monday”. Below is the press release from sooner sports.com. You may also link to the story here.

NORMAN, Okla. — The Big 12 Conference has announced its men’s basketball schedule for ESPN’s Big Monday platform for the 2013 season, and for the first time in three years Oklahoma will make an appearance.

The Sooners’ Jan. 21 home contest versus Texas will be televised by ESPN as the second game of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day doubleheader. The 8:30 p.m. CT OU-Texas game will be preceded by a 4:30 p.m. matchup between Oklahoma State and Baylor.

The last season Oklahoma participated in an ESPN Big Monday contest was 2009-10. OU made three appearances that year.

The full composite Big 12 schedule, including games on CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, Big 12 Network and ESPN’s College GameDay, will be released in the coming weeks.

The Big 12 has been ranked among the top three conferences in RPI each of the past five seasons — the only league that can make that claim. In addition, the Big 12 boasts the nation’s best winning percentage in NCAA Tournament competition over the past five years.

 2013 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Schedule On ESPN’s Big Monday
 Date  Teams  Time (CT)
 Jan. 14  Baylor at Kansas  8 p.m.
 Jan. 21  Oklahoma State at Baylor  4:30 p.m.
 Texas at Oklahoma  8:30 p.m.
 Jan. 28  Kansas at West Virginia  8 p.m.
 Feb. 4  Texas at West Virginia  8 p.m.
 Feb. 11  Kansas State at Kansas  8 p.m.
 Feb. 18  West Virginia at Kansas State  8 p.m.
 Feb. 25  Kansas at Iowa State  8 p.m.
 March 4  Baylor at Texas  8 p.m.