The Norman Transcript

December 23, 2012

Handing out a few well deserved Christmas gifts early this year


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — What’s this, Christmas two days early. Can it possibly be?

Actually no.

But let’s pretend it is and let’s further pretend that we could simply wish gifts to those who may or may not want them, yet need or deserve them.

To Bob Stoops, the realization he’ll be treated much better in this and other spaces the moment he begins to more resemble the shoot-from-the-hip swashbuckler who took the job in 1999, answering questions as well as he possibly could rather than playing keep-away from his interrogators whenever his reply might threaten to prove interesting, enlightening or, egads, harshly truthful about some aspect of his program that’s clear as a bell to everybody except maybe the Sooner head coach.

To prep sports in this town, the continued frenzy of support that now encompasses athletics at both Norman High and Norman North. The Clash crowds on both sides of the court were amazing and, maybe more importantly, other sports (like wrestling) and events (like any time NHS and North don’t play each other, but somebody else) have been drawing better, too. It may have began with North’s trip to the Class 6A championship game, but that it’s lit a fire under both schools is truly fantastic.

To Sherri Coale, at least one more player on the roster, like Kodi Morrison a few years ago, even if all the new face might ever do is soak up a little garbage time, because every little bit helps, and no more injuries, sprains, bruises or even sore throats. Gene Hackman may have played with four for a few minutes in “Hoosiers” but getting through the Big 12 with eight is going to be a Herculean chore.

To the Oklahoma City Thunder, only more of the same. Continued steady improvement from Russell Westbrook at the point, continued dramatic improvement from Serge Ibaka at forward.

Even continued improvement from Kevin Durant, who still gets his points but has widened his game. And continued steadfastness from the front office, which knew how to pull the trigger on a trade when maximum value for minimum soap opera was available, sticking with the plan and values that built the franchise up from ground zero in the first place.

To Lon Kruger, a clear leader emerging from the young and newcomer group of Sooners that sometimes makes the present thrilling while offering great hope for the future.

It goes without saying Blake Griffin gave OU the kind of player it hadn’t enjoyed since Wayman Tisdale and, before him, Alvan Adams. Still, between the next Griffin and the next Hollis Price, I’m not sure I wouldn’t take the latter. The Sooners haven’t had a guy like that since Price.

What else?

To Sunny Golloway, a real Mr. Friday night. The Sooners are in position to make waves on the diamond come the spring. They’re No. 14 in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll, which is out really early, almost two months before the season begins. But when it finally arrives — Hofstra, 3 p.m., Feb. 15 — how much difference would it make to have a shutdown guy on the mound the night every meaningful series begins? Lots.

To Mark Cody and the Sooner wrestling program, many more home duals on future schedules and next season coming together the way it’s all been planned, because OU might just have a shot at winning it all. Really.

To Dallas Cowboys fans, a team that doesn’t perpetually underachieve. The one in progress is making a very un-Cowboy move by winning 5 of 6 when it had to be done (of course, it only happened after losing 4 of 5, a streak no alleged-quality team should ever incur). It’s hard to believe this gift can be given as long as Tony Romo is called upon to execute plays delivered from coach Jason Garrett, but who knows?

Sports can surprise you.

They can, can’t they?

Here’s one for all of us, that they continue to surprise us, show us things we haven’t seen before and plenty of things we have, because the right rerun is sometimes the best thing on TV … or the court, diamond, field and pitch.

It’s why we’re here.

Clay HorningFollow me @clayhorningcfhorning@normantranscript.com

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