2008 NCAA Tournament Capsule: Oklahoma
by Joel Welser
Last NCAA Appearance: 2006, First Round loss
Coach: Jeff Capel (0-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Austin Johnson, Junior, Guard
Tony Crocker, Sophomore, Guard
David Godbold, Senior, Guard
Taylor Griffin, Junior, Forward
Blake Griffin, Freshman, Forward
Omar Leary, Junior, Guard
Cade Davis, Freshman, Forward
Longar Longar, Senior, Center
Why They Can Surprise:
The interior presence at Oklahoma is vastly underrated. Freshman Blake Griffin gets most of the accolades, and rightfully so. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding and, at times, can take over a game. However, his frontcourt cohorts, including his brother Tyler Griffin, deserve some respect as well.
Tyler, at 6-7, is nowhere near the rebounding threat or the scoring threat that his brother is, but he does do the dirty work in the paint and is a decent shot blocker. At 6-11, Longar Longar is the tallest player on the team. Even though he might start off on the bench, the senior has a lot of starting experience and will play just as many minutes as the Griffins. Longar could be a better rebounder and shot blocker, but at least he is a bigger presence under the basket and helps alter shots. His best asset is his ability to score under the basket and most of the Sooners points should be coming from the paint.
Why They Can Disappoint:
With the big guys clogging up the inside, the OU guards get plenty of open looks from beyond the arc. Yet, they fail to shoot a high percentage from three-point land. Tony Crocker is the only starter who Oklahoma fans should feel comfortable taking long balls, but Austin Johnson and David Godbold will hoist up quite a few. Those guys can hit them, but the percentages are not great. For a team that has its top two scorers in Blake Griffin and Longar shooting over 50 percent from the floor, the team’s overall field-goal percentage is surprisingly bad. Like many other teams, Oklahoma does not always play to their strength and the Sooners strength is certainly getting the ball inside.
Who To Watch:
Working the ball inside is important, but this team still needs some scoring balance. Crocker has the most potential to score 20 points in a game, which he has done multiple times this year, but consistency has been a big problem. After three of his four 20-point games, Crocker failed to reach double digits. If Crocker can string some big games together at the right time, Oklahoma will have a solid inside-outside game and could make a little noise in March. Otherwise the opposition can defend the paint and take their chances on somebody knocking down three’s.
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