NORMAN — The weather may have kept everyone off the gym floor for the past week, but that doesn’t mean the games won’t go on now that the roads are passable. And for Norman North, that means a three-day tournament in Texas after just one day of practice this week.
The Timberwolves leave today for Burkburnett, Texas to compete in the Union Square Bulldog Classic, tipping off their first game at 8:30 p.m. today against Highland Park.
The T-Wolves (0-1) have been on the court just twice since last week’s overtime loss to defending state champion Edmond Memorial in coach Bryan Merritt’s North debut. The Timberwolves led for most of the way and had a chance to win it at the buzzer in regulation before eventually falling in the extra period.
Given time to watch film but not work much with his team following the loss, Merritt said he’s found both positives and negatives in the footage.
“We played harder than I thought we did,” he said. “We played pretty good defense besides fouling too much, and our effort was good throughout. But we just didn’t manage the game very well, especially at the end.”
Part of that was because sophomore point guard Marcus Dickinson left the game with a badly sprained ankle, and the Timberwolves watched the lead slip away while he was on the bench. Though he returned late in the contest, North wasn’t able to retake control of the game. Dickinson’s ankle continued to give him problems through the weekend, but he is improving and will be on the floor when the T-Wolves tip off tonight and Merritt estimated he’ll be at 70 or 80 percent of full strength.
Some of the Timberwolves hadn’t practiced for seven days before finally returning to class on Wednesday, but most did their best to stay in shape. For senior Payton Prince, that meant workouts at the YMCA while he waited for practice to resume. Looking ahead to the tournament, he said the most important thing is that the T-Wolves play hard in every game.
“The mindset is we’ve just got to go to work,” he said. “We kind of gave away that game to Edmond Memorial last week, and we’ve just got to focus on getting better and not letting your man go harder than you.
Given almost no time to work with his team since that game, Merritt said he’s not planning any extensive changes before tonight’s game.
“It’s hard the way it’s gone and not getting to practice,” he said. “Our guys just have to be better than the teams we play this weekend. Hopefully we’ll go out and compete hard and come back with some wins.”
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