Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
When it comes to Sooner hoops, take the team that wants to score (not the one that doesn't)
Saturday's Lloyd Noble Center doubleheader made clear the better approach
Given that the team with more points wins 100 percent of all games, Saturday’s basketball lesson, made clear at Lloyd Noble Center where two bands of Sooners played, screamed one truth.
You should want to score.
It’s easier to win when you do.
Unfortunately for Sooner fans, only one of Saturday’s home-team entries plays that way and its not coach Porter Moser’s men.
Moser’s Sooners, for the fifth time in seven Big 12 Conference contests, suffered its existence as the little engine that can’t.
Gloriously, it received 17 and 16 points from two players not named Grant Sherfield and still the offensive efforts of Jalen Hill and Tanner Groves were not enough to avoid falling 62-60 to 21st-ranked Baylor.
Perhaps it might have been different had freshman Otega Oweh, more athletic than maybe all of his teammates, had played more than 10 1/2 minutes in which he made all three of his shots and accounted for 45.5 percent of Baylor’s turnovers, pilfering five steals.
But he didn’t.
Or maybe Oweh should have been thrilled for only that after playing a minute-plus at Bedlam and not at all in three other conference games.
Or maybe that’s ridiculous.
The Sooner women?
If you can believe it, they were playing from behind more then they were playing in front of their Bedlam rival Cowgirls, while the Baylor men only played in front of OU for 14 1/2 minutes.
But they enjoy scoring and try to score a lot. It’s sort of their game plan. So, despite falling behind 12 points a minute into the half before cutting it to one, and then having to come back again after OSU pushed the advantage back to 10, hope was not lost.
Indeed, netting 57 second-half points, coach Jennie Baranczyk’s Sooner women gave themselves several chances to top the Cowgirls, finally taking the lead for good on a Skylar Vann 3-pointer with 4:03 remaining in what became a 97-93 triumph.
After all that transpired, a good question to ask Baranczyk seemed to be why she’d rather play the way she plays instead of the other way, the grind-it-out way, the way even some of the nation’s best women’s programs choose to play.
Given the state of the college game, the difficulty of drawing crowds, not to mention the challenge to bring players to campus and keep them there, her answer was perfect, if not self-evident.
Oklahoma Columnist is a reader-supported publication. Though free and paid subscriptions are available, the best way to keep this venture going is to purchase a paid subscription for $6/month (less if you purchase an entire year) and never miss a post.
“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s fun.
“I don’t want it to be about me and I don’t want it to be a chess match. There’s a time and a place that we’re going to call a set, right? There’s a time and a place, you know, we’ve got to figure that out. But [the players] are going to always make better reads that I can coach. And when they can play intuitively, when they can play to their authentic selves and their game, I don’t think there’s anything better.”
Sitting next to her was Madi Williams, who’d netted a game-high 26 points, her sixth outing to net at least 20 and her eighth to net at least 19.
“I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t want to play that way, where everybody has the green light and we’re making reads and we’re not having to keep looking at [coach] like ‘What are we running, what are running?’” she said. “When we have to slow the ball down, we know. So we’re able to play and just keep playing.”
Seems easier to recruit to.
Seems easier to win doing.
The way Moser’s trying to win is antithetical to the way Sooner coaches have won in the past.
Billy Tubbs wanted to score 200.
When OU was good under Jeff Capel, it was scoring big. Lon Kruger didn’t want to quit playing defense, but he wanted to score, too. Even Kelvin Sampson, who wanted to defend more than anybody, was more than happy to turn Ryan Minor, J.R. Raymond, Ebi Ere, Aaron McGee and the great Hollis Price free.
Sherri Coale built her career on playing fast, scoring and was an offensive coach to the core.
Each played their best athletes.
Moser didn’t appear to Saturday.
On a day he got 33 points from two players he can’t possibly expect to combine for so many again — Groves’ and Hill’s season averages are 10.5 and 9.8 — his team still scored only 60, even outshooting Baylor 45.6 percent (26 of 57) to 36.2 percent (21 of 58).
The thing was the Bears shot 17 free throws and and the Sooners only four. Probably because the Bears try to score.
Baranczk’s team does, too.
“It’s fun,” she said again. “Did anybody come here tonight saying, ‘Man, they were terrible? That was a terrible game, I’m not coming back?’
“Not one person. Not one person.”