Friday, January 26, 2018

Sleeping With the Enemy-Oklahoma

I reached out to Jack Shields at Crimson and Cream Machine to get his take on tomorrow's matchup with the Sooners.  He kindly provided the response below.  If you visit Crimson and Cream Machine, follow the site's rules and be a good representative of our University.  Along those same lines, I would like to encourage everyone attending  the game to be hospitable and welcoming to any visiting OU fans you may encounter.  I attended a basketball game in Norman several years back (as well as a football game), and generally found them to be one of the classiest and most respectful fan bases I've encountered.  Let's return the favor.

Things begin and end with freshman Trae Young, who leads the nation in both scoring (30.3 PPG) and assists (9.6 APG). Young ends up in the highlights for his deep threes, but his game is really so much more than that. He might have the quickest first step in college basketball and is great at getting by the first defender. Once he gets by, he either kicks it to a teammate for an open attempts, put up a floater or draws contact and gets to the line (or just gets a bucket at the rim). His weapons on the perimeter have to be respected, as well. Fellow freshman Brady Manek is 6'9" and has one of the quickest releases in the nation, so pretty much every look is a good look for him. Christian James has also had a good season and has hit many a clutch shot for the Sooners this season. Rashard Odomes, who isn't much of a shooter, is probably the teams best creator not named Trae Young. He's a long and athletic wing who finishes well around the rim and often draws contact. 

The most effective strategy teams have used to slow the offense has been to pressure Young early in a possession, force him to give up the ball and blanket him with the purpose of making sure the ball doesn't go back to him. Young's teammates are talented, but they're obviously not quite as adept at creating their own opportunities.

This team has struggled at times defensively, although the defensive PPG average can largely be attributed to the team's offensive tempo (more possessions = more buckets). Nonetheless, Oklahoma sometimes struggles with perimeter defense. However, this team is talented enough to get stops when need be and has done just that in critical situations all season long.

The most intriguing part of this game is obviously the matchup between Trae Young and Collin Sexton. Lon Kruger likes to keep Young out of difficult defensive situations in the first half in order to avoid foul trouble, so don't be surprised to see someone like Odomes matched up on Sexton early in this one. As far as a prediction is concerned, I'm thinking this one will be close due to the fact that Young and his teammates haven't fared well on the road as of late. In OU's last three road games, Young has tried to put too much of the load on his own shoulders as opposed to simply running offense and getting his teammates going. Those problems have likely arisen due to the fact that OU has gotten behind early in those games, so a fast start will be crucial for OU in this one. Prediction: Oklahoma 87, Alabama 79.   

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