Clippers Thunders recap for InsideThunder.com

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 1.17.53 PMIt’s great to be home in SoCal, and while I am enjoying getting back into the swing covering the area teams again as a contributor and storyteller  (scorecardscribblings.com and California Life), it’s always great to revisit some of the most amazing moments of my career spent in OKC as sideline reporter for the Thunder with the travel crew, including Matt Pinto and Brian Davis. Below is a post-game report I did for Thunder Raw and InsideThunder.com. Props to my friends Randy Renner and Jeremy Griffin, as well as the boys and girls with Thunder and Clippers PR. I will be feeding post-Lakers/Thunder this week as well. Here’s my post-Clips/Thunder feed…

 

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.