The Moore American

Sports

March 19, 2014

Oklahoma prepares for the unknown in first round

MOORE — One of the explanations for why March becomes madness is the NCAA tournament’s condensed format. Early Sunday evening the bracket is announced, leaving only three or four days to prepare for an opponent, and most teams will spend at least several hours traveling on one of those days.

That’s not a lot of time to get ready for a game that will end or extend the season. Win that opening game, and there are 48 hours — give or take — to prepare for the next one.

The internet age has removed a lot of the mystery coaches once faced. A season’s worth of opponent’s games can be downloaded within minutes of the bracket’s debut.

Still when cramped for time, most coaching staffs study the season statistics and start building a game plan from what the sheet says.

Most of the time, cramming identifies go-to scorers and how they are able to put the ball in the basket.

That is a problem No. 21 Oklahoma (23-9) presents for North Dakota State (25-6) when they meet at 6:27 p.m. on Thursday in the NCAA tournament’s West Region at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

The norm is to disect the last 10 games of an upcoming NCAA tournament opponent and go from there. An analysis of OU shows four different players — Jordan Woodard, Cameron Clark, Isaiah Cousins and Buddy Hield — have scored at least 19 points in one of those last 10 games.

“They’ll come away thinking they have to stop Buddy. Watch two more tapes and they’ll think they have to stop Cam. Then, they’ll start thinking Isaiah,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “It’s different guys that have been the reason we’ve won.”

That’s what makes OU a vastly different team than it was during its last two NCAA tournament appearances. Last season, there was no doubt who was getting the ball when OU had to have a basket. Romero Osby was a clearly defined No. 1 scoring option.

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