NORMAN — Inconsistency has been the biggest problem for Norman High through two games, and it’s an issue that reared its head again in a loss to third-ranked Edmond Memorial on Tuesday.
The Tigers (0-2) played very well in stretches against the defending state champions, but went through several listless periods in which the offense would fire up and bad shots and the defense would give up easy transition baskets. It’s what allowed Edmond Memorial (5-0) to turn an eight-point game into a blowout in the second half, and it overshadowed other parts of the game where the Tigers looked like a team that was beginning to figure things out on their way to competing with some of the state’s top teams.
“We showed a lot of good stuff tonight, but we’re just too inconsistent to do much with it right now,” coach Matt Thornton said after the game. “I see a lot of good things, and we’ve got some time to figure it out.”
One major reason the Tigers are behind schedule has been the weather. While Edmond Memorial was playing its fifth game of the season on Tuesday, the Tigers were playing in just their second and first in two weeks.
“We looked like a team that hadn’t played in 14 days, and we are,” Thornton said. “It’s hard with a team like we have to come back and play a team like that after so much time off.”
Experience is definitely an area in which NHS lacks. Only two Tigers — Cooper Clark and John Michael Benardello — saw any significant varsity minutes last season, and many of the players in the rotation haven’t played at all on the varsity level.
It’s a disparity that will come into focus when NHS travels to Norman North on Friday for the season’s first Crosstown Clash. The Timberwolves also have a relatively young roster, but it’s one filled with at least a year of experience since many of the T-Wolves played varsity last season. And, thanks to a tournament in Texas last week, North (4-1) has played five games this season to NHS’ two.
With the way things have gone so far, Thornton is less worried about the Tigers’ opponents and more concerned about building his team at this point of the season. The Tigers have a number of assets, from the sharpshooting Michael Kish and Benardello to slashers in Clark and Sayvon Foley to size in 6-5 center Blake Hardman.
It’s a group with potential that Thornton is excited to coach, but the second-year coach knows it’s going to take some time before everything comes together.
“We’ve got two guys who played a lot last year and then a bunch of other guys who are still figuring it out,” he said. “We’re going to be okay. We’ve got a few games coming up, and that will help us. We have the right pieces; we’ve just got to get it to all come together.”
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