Oklahoma 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview
Oklahoma Sooners (27-5, 13-3) - Big 12 Conference
Seed: #2 - South Region
Big Wins: 11/28 vs Purdue (87-82), 12/13 Utah (70-52), 1/26 at Oklahoma State (89-81)
Bad Losses: 12/30 at Arkansas (88-96), 2/21 at Texas (68-73), 3/12 vs Oklahoma State (70-71)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Second Round loss to Louisville
Coach: Jeff Capel (1-2 in 2 NCAA appearances)
Probable Oklahoma Starters:
Austin Johnson, Senior, Guard, 8.8 ppg, 3.9 apg
Willie Warren, Freshman, Guard, 14.7 ppg, 3.0 apg
Tony Crocker, Junior, Guard, 9.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Taylor Griffin, Senior, Forward, 9.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Blake Griffin, Sophomore, Forward, 21.9 ppg, 14.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Key Oklahoma Roleplayers:
Cade Davis, Sophomore, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 1.1 apg
Juan Pattillo, Junior, Forward, 6.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Why The Sooners Can Surprise:
Blake Griffin is the best rebounder in the nation and one of the top scorers in the game. His presence in the paint has propelled Oklahoma into one of the best teams in the country. He averages 21.9 points, 14.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. The 6-10 sophomore is even a good passer and defender. He can do everything and do it very well. Griffin has never failed to reach double-digits in the scoring column when he has been healthy this season and only had under ten rebounds on five occasions.
But Griffin is not the only player in the frontcourt. In fact, he is not the only Griffin. His older brother Taylor, a 6-8 senior, has started every game by his brother’s side at the power forward spot. The elder Griffin does not put up numbers like Blake, but he does do the same type of things. Taylor has developed into a solid scoring threat and a decent rebounder. And with those two blocking shots under the basket the team’s defense is very impressive.
Why The Sooners Can Disappoint:
The addition and emergence of Juan Pattillo has made the shot blocking even better. However, Pattillo is one of few options off the bench. All five starters average at least 28 minutes per game, and the bench pretty much consists of Pattillo and guard Cade Davis. The lack of depth is a small concern, but those issues tend to become more prevalent in March after a long season. If the starters legs start getting tired, Coach Jeff Capel might have to depend on players like Ryan Wright and Omar Leary to provide more minutes.
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Who To Watch:
The Griffins have found a lot of space in the paint due to the play of guards Willie Warren, Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson. Warren had a great freshman campaign, averaging 14.7 points per game. He will get to the basket very effectively and can run the point when necessary. That gives the Sooners a couple ball handlers in the backcourt with Johnson usually running the show. Johnson dishes out 3.9 assists per game and only commits 1.5 turnovers. The opposition would like to find a way to stop Griffin, but this year they also have to worry to about the backcourt. Even if their opponents try and stop Blake Griffin, which never really works anyway, the backcourt will make them pay.
Oklahoma By the Numbers:
- Scoring Offense: 79.5 (11th in nation, 3rd in conference)
- Scoring Defense: 67.7 (172, 9)
- Field-Goal Percentage: 48.9 (7, 1)
- Field-Goal Defense: 39.7 (31, 2)
- Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (93, 6)
- Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.4 (78, 6)
- Free-Throw Percentage: 67.8 (207, 9)
- Rebound Margin: 5.5 (28, 3)
- Assists Per Game: 14.6 (77, 4)
- Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (149, 8)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Final Four loss to Pittsburgh
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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