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March 25, 2013

After tourney exit, Sooners looking ahead

PHILADELPHIA — After Romero Osby answered the last question Friday night, he asked the moderator if he could have the placard.

With that, the 6-foot-8 forward exited Oklahoma’s basketball stage after Friday night’s 70-55 loss to San Diego State. The job OU does replacing him will define whether it is able to sustain this season’s achievements.

“He’s one of the funnest players to play around and he’s done a great job,” forward Amath M’Baye said. “He gave his heart and soul to this program, and he’s an amazing player, probably one of the best college players I’ve seen and I’ve played with, and all credit to him and his work ethic. He’s been amazing. He’s been holding it up for us all season, and I just want to give him a lot of credit for that.”

Osby was much more than OU’s leading scorer and rebounder, he was its leader in the locker room and everywhere else this season. Finding a role model for how to get better was always easy — just watch and listen to Osby.

“What Ro has done in points, rebounds is pretty obvious, but in terms of setting that bar for leadership off the court, on the court, classroom, community, Amath will benefit greatly from that going forward,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “Young players that are fresh into the program benefit greatly from watching how Ro carried himself and how he represented — certainly as a player they appreciate what he did.

“But as much as he did there, they are also very appreciative of how he led them otherwise, too.”

Statistically voids can always be filled. It’s the other intangibles that aren’t as easy to find.

Nonetheless, the process has begun.

M’Baye is OU’s most athletically-gifted player, but there’s a major leap that must be made in terms of consistency. OU (20-12) went 0-3 in its final three games. M’Baye only scored 19 points in those three games.

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