Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

March 27, 2014

Sooners die by the 3 in NCAA tournament

With 11 seconds left in regulation, Oklahoma needed one point to win to beat North Dakota State and advance in the NCAA tournament. The fact that it tried for three symbolized the 2013-14 season and a missing ingredient required to improve its fortunes.

The Sooners’ addiction to 3-pointers defined its 23-10 season. When the deep shots fell, the Sooners were as good as any team in the Big 12 and a legitimate Top 25 team.

OU shot 39.7 percent from the arc this season and averaged 22.78 attempts per game. But it turned to 3-pointers, and little else, late in the season.

The Sooners attempted at least 30 in their last five games. Only once — the meeting with Baylor in the Big 12 tournament — were they trying to rally from a massive deficit.

“We’ve got to have more diversity offensively,” OU coach Lon Kruger said following Thursday’s 80-75 overtime loss to the Bison last Thursday in Spokane, Wash.

The hope is the three players OU has signed for next season will create more of it. OU inked prep forwards in November: Dante Buford, Khadeem Lattin and Jamuni McNeace.

Buford, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla., is in the mold of Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal, both seniors who played their final game last Thursday.

Lattin and McNeace are both traditional 6-foot-9 power forwards. OU didn’t have anyone like that, and the absence of a back-to-the-basket scorer really showed down the stretch.

Spangler averaged 9.3 points a game and in first three months of the season, and he was a rebounding machine that could score in the paint. His impact dipped considerably in the middle of February.

“We want to continue to shoot good shots, but Ryan, inside, will get more comfortable offensively,” Kruger said. “The younger kids we have coming in and the kids we have coming back, we’ll keep getting better.”

Because OU was young this season, there was a strong feeling the 23-10 record and second-place finish in the Big 12 Conference was a prelude to much greater expectations for the 2014-2015 season.

Its nucleus is still young. Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, Ryan Spangler and Je’lon Hornbeak were all sophomores and displayed tremendous growth from their initial seasons. Point guard Jordan Woodard was just a freshman. If he mirrors the improvement of the preceding group, he could be something special.

In order to get to that elite level, OU has to find an aggressive streak it lacked — on both ends of the floor — this season.

The sequence that led to overtime against North Dakota State was a perfect example. Kruger called a play for Cousins to penetrate as the clock ticked down. He did with ease, but instead of looking to score a basket or at least draw a foul, he kicked the ball out of for Buddy Hield’s 3-point attempt.

Hield had been making those corners 3s at 40 percent all season, but it wasn’t the shot OU wanted in the final seconds of a tied game.

The teams that have long NCAA tournament shelf lives do not settle for a jump shot in that situation. They force an opponent to stop them. That should be the lesson the Sooners take away from this season. Teams that force the action typically win and advance.

“We have a good group of young guys coming back. We just have to keep learning. We learned how to fight and stay together as a group no matter what. We proved we can come back in games. No matter what, we always came back,” Hield said.

He is correct.

Even in the games OU lost, it always came close to digging its way out of holes. Most of those deficits were caused because the 3-pointers were not falling or because of defensive lapses.

The Sooners understand their failings. They have an offseason to work on them. This group proved they’re willing to put in all the necessary work to correct them.

“They made a lot of progress from the start of the year to the finish,” Kruger said. “Again, in the short term, this is extremely disappointing and hard to experience, but they like to play, they will continue making progress and we’ll get back to work and try to get better.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Bassmaster.jpg Crossing, and fishing, the Delaware

    Bassmaster Elite Series anglers to compete Aug. 7

    BASS has fished out of some legendary venues over the years (including Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans), but never Philadelphia, which is host of the Bassmaster Elite at Delaware River, Aug. 7-10, 2014.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mison.jpg Mixon’s attorney says incident with woman self-defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando
Stocks