NORMAN — Eight months ago, Oklahoma knew what its deficiencies were. A lack of depth caused another season to spiral away in the final month. More game-ready talent was obviously needed for the 2012-13 season.
The Sooners believe they’ve addressed the overall concern. Freshmen guards Isaiah Cousins, Je’lon Hornbeak and Buddy Hield have upgraded the backcourt. Forward Amath M’Baye is a major addition to the front court. They will join five returning starters from that team that went 15-16 and was running on fumes by the Big 12 tournament.
“We’ve upgraded,” forward Romero Osby said.
In terms of scoring and depth, there’s no doubt that’s been the case.
However, there’s one statistic where that will provide irrefutable evidence — rebounding. The ability to limit teams to one shot and extend possessions by grabbing them on the offensive end has always been basketball’s difference maker. There won’t be a team that plays beyond the second week in March that struggles to get rebounds.
OU coach Lon Kruger admits its something he’ll be locked onto when OU opens its season at 2 p.m. today at Lloyd Noble Center against Louisiana-Monroe.
“It’s an area we have to improve in,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “There’s a lot of things we have to improve in, but I didn’t see a really physical nature from us with respect to rebounding the ball in the two exhibition games for sure.”
OU outrebounded exhibition opponents Washburn and Central Oklahoma by a combined 13 rebounds. Neither was exactly the dominant effort Kruger sought. The coach’s opinion wasn’t a minority view.
“We’re not where we need to be, and that starts with me,” Osby said. “I was the leading rebounder last year. My rebounding slipped toward the end of the year. I have to get mine back to where it’s double digits every night. I think if I do that everyone else will follow suit. I take it upon myself.”