History stands against Porter Moser, who's impossibly lost three more players
A brief history of a near half century of Sooner men’s basketball:
• Long before he became the scourge of the sport for maniacal misdeeds at Baylor, Dave Bliss opened Lloyd Noble Center in 1975.
Coming from Bob Knight’s Indiana program, the loser of one game in Bliss’ last season as assistant, folks hoped he might make Oklahoma matter.
Gradually, he did.
By his fourth season, Bliss’ Sooners claimed the Big Eight’s regular-season crown and reached the Sweet 16 only to be knocked out by Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores.
OU began strong the next year before faltering, finished 15-12, 6-8 in the league and Bliss was off to SMU.
• Enter Billy Tubbs, who lost 18 games his first season, reached the NIT final four his second, then proceeded to average 28.3 victories his next eight seasons, thrice winning 30-plus, four times receiving a No. 1 NCAA tourney seed and reaching the 1988 national championship game.
Tubbs took the Sooners to the NIT three of his last four seasons and left for TCU in 1994.
• Enter Kelvin Sampson, who drove Sooner Nation crazy his first four seasons, but not for losing and not for failing to reach the NCAA tourney. No, Sampson’s first four Sooner squads’ sins were having the audacity to reach the NCAA tournament only to be bounced once there.
Sampson's next four teams averaged 27.8 wins, one reached the Final Four and another the Elite Eight. He still won 65 games his next three seasons, but it wasn’t the same, he got in trouble with the NCAA, Indiana offered an exit and he was off to Bloomington.
• When Jeff Capel arrived as OU’s next coach in 2006, recognizing the exhaustion fans felt in the wake of Sampson’s exit and his team’s struggle to score points, Capel told his introduction crowd, “We’re going to work hard, we’re going to play hard, we’re going to run, we’re going to defend and we’re going to win,” and would you believe the loudest roar came when he said “we’re going to run.”
Fueled by Blake Griffin, Capel was in the NCAA tourney in year two and the Elite Eight year three. Then came scandal, two losing seasons, he left and Lon Kruger returned to the heartland.
• Kruger did not do what Tubbs and Sampson did. He actually lost 20 games in the sixth of his 10 seasons. But he went to four NCAA tourneys and a Final Four before that season and three more NCAA tourneys afterward.
For all, the common denominator’s been winning. Perhaps enduring a losing season on the way to winning, but still winning. Maybe not winning like you used to on your way out, but still winning, as only Capel failed to do.
What it’s never been about is sinking like a rock with no end in sight, or what OU's going through under Porter Moser.
Yes, only two weeks ago I opined Moser must be getting a third season because every Sooner coach gets three bad seasons, but that thought was so two weeks ago. Moser’s plight has since become far worse.
Two weeks ago, he’d suffered another exodus of players, Benny Schroeder, CJ. Nolan, Bijan Cortes and Joe Bamisile all having entered the transfer portal.
This past week, he lost three more.
Jalen Hill both entered the transfer portal and declared for the NBA draft on Monday. Grant Sherfield, who led OU in scoring, who has eligibility remaining, declared for the NBA draft on Wednesday, the same day Jacob Groves announced his entry into the portal.
Of 160 available starts this past season, Sherfield (32), Hill (32), Groves (22), Noland (8) and Cortes (1) accounted for 95 (and the outgoing Tanner Groves accounted for 32 of the remaining 65).
Jacob Groves should have had started less, Noland should have started more and Bamisile, who never started, should have started more than both of them, but who cares because they’re all gone now.
Hill’s been the glue that’s held OU together for three seasons and Sherfield, with the possible exception of Hill, just finished being the only Sooner reliably capable of making a shot.
The two players of consequence still on the roster, Milos Uzan and Otega Oweh, are athletic talents who could be great, but they’re the only ones and who knows where they’ll be in a week or two.
For that matter, who knew the high point for Moser’s Sooners once March hit would be finishing dead last in the Big 12 Conference.
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