The Norman Transcript

January 11, 2013

Kruger helps junior forward find comfort zone

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — There’s no manual for putting a team together. Figuring out where all the pieces fit is a trial-and-error process. It can take weeks, months or even years before it comes together.

Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark knows that process all too well. Finding his spot on the floor has been a tedious process. But after two-and-a-half seasons of college basketball, the junior has finally found his comfort zone.

What’s odd is he found out he plays his best where the room to maneuver is minuscule and contact is a given — the post.

“I looked at it as a new start for myself, and it’s been going pretty good,” Clark said.

The move occurred five games ago as OU was preparing to face Texas A&M on Dec. 15. The Aggies were a team with big, physical post players. If you can’t match size, counteracting it with quickness is the next best option.

Clark has a ton of that. There won’t be many games this season when the 6-foot-6, 208-pound junior isn’t the best athlete on the court. Without a doubt, Clark is the most explosive dunker OU’s had since Blake Griffin. The only problem is he isn’t 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds.

His more natural spot is on the wing where he’s played throughout his basketball life. He looked really well out there as a freshman. Clark averaged 9.3 points and was one of that team’s best scorers in Big 12 Conference play.

However, Clark has never been much of a 3-point shooter. He only attempted 18 as a sophomore. He prefers to drive to the basket. Once opponents figured that out, his wings were clipped and his confidence waned. Instead of being explosive, Clark looked timid.

OU was willing to try anything to get Clark’s confidence back. It came against the Aggies when Clark poured in 17 points.

“We just wanted to look at something different to start,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “A lot of times an athlete like Cam has more advantages when he matches up against a bigger guy than he does against a smaller; it’s certainly been the case so far here. Cam is strong enough to guard bigger guys in the post. He has a nice package to take advantage of that on both ends.”

The Sooners (10-3, 1-0 Big 12) will need it when they face Oklahoma State (11-3, 1-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center.

The energy Clark provides off the bench is going to be critical, so will the production. Last Saturday’s win at West Virginia included seven points and six rebounds by Clark in just 13 minutes on the floor.

“I’m around the basket more and I’m able to use my quickness,” Clark said. “I’m strong enough to play with those guys.”

What happens the rest of the season will give the final answer. However, the saga to get Clark out of his shell seems to be over. All that incredible athletic ability is coming to fruition.

“I think he’s found his comfort zone,” Kruger said.

John ShinnFollow me

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