In today’s basketball season edition of WRNL Interrogates, Jack Shields of Crimson And Cream Machine stopped by to update us on the progression of the Oklahoma basketball program. As we remember, last year the Sooners boasted one of the best teams in the conference with one of the best players in the country in Buddy Hield. This year, they’re learning to adjust to life without him.
Kevin: As some would expect, the Sooners have taken a step back after losing Buddy Hield et al. from last season. However, Oklahoma also has beaten Texas Tech and West Virginia back-to-back in the last week. What's been different about the last two games (if anything) that's led to the W's?
Jack: For one, Jordan Woodard has been involved. He was out of the lineup for the beginning of conference play with an undisclosed ailment, and Oklahoma’s offense suffered immensely. However, these last two games featured complete performances, which is something we hadn’t really seen from this team very often this season. The defense was pretty solid for the majority of the contest (and in crucial situations), and the offense moved the ball around better than they had up to that point. Additionally, freshmen Kameron McGusty and Kristian Doolittle have really stepped up as of late.
Kevin: Who are some of the unfamiliar faces that are contributing this season for the Sooners?
Jack: The aforementioned McGusty and Doolittle are starting to build reputations for themselves, but sophomores Jamuni McNeace and Rashard Odomes are guys who shouldn’t be overlooked. Odomes is a starter this season after playing sparingly as a freshman, and he’s demonstrated an ability to get to the basket when the Sooners get into a jam. McNeace comes off the bench and often provides a nice jolt for this team with his athleticism and energy. I think both will be forces by the time they leave Norman.
Kevin: Does Oklahoma have any recruits that fans are excited for in the class of 2017? Any targets they're still holding out hope for?
Jack: They’ve already signed PF Brady Manek and C Hannes Polla for the 2017 class. The latter is a 6-11 kid from Finland who not many know much about, frankly. Manek is a pretty long and athletic kid from Oklahoma, but there’s a bit of a logjam at his position. Barring offseason attrition, both could potentially be candidates for redshirt seasons. The eyes of the Sooner Nation are fixed squarely upon Norman’s own Trae Young, who was just named a McDonald’s All-American. At this point, it seems to be down to OU and Kansas to land the kid whose game resembles that of Steph Curry.
Kevin: Jordan Woodard is currently the 3rd leading scorer in the Big 12 at 17.7 PPG. Has his game evolved at all without back court mates Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins?
Jack: His game hasn’t really evolved a ton, but he’s definitely much more assertive offensively out of necessity. He’s also relied upon for leadership at this point, which isn’t something that is necessarily natural for him since he’s not very vocal. I do think that he honed his shooting skills during his junior season, which I think was a product of his temporary move to the off-guard position. He’s back to running the point at the moment, but his long-range shooting is definitely better than it used to be.
Kevin: Let's hear your prediction for the game. Can the Sooners make it three in a row? Will Iowa State pick up a conference road victory?
Jack: I actually do think OU will win this one. Maybe I’m overly confident after such a big win, but I think this team is finally starting to click. I think the Sooners win a close one by a score of 83-78.
Kevin: BONUS QUESTION - If you had to choose one fast food restaurant to eat at for every meal for the rest of your life, which one would it be? Choose wisely...
Jack: I’m gonna have to go with Whataburger here. The fries are good. The burgers are great. They have the Honey Barbeque Chicken Strip Sandwich for lunch and the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit for breakfast (or after the bars). Lastly, they have their own ketchup, and it’s probably the best ketchup there is.
I’ve never had the chance to try Whataburger, but it’s at the top of my list and that last answer only solidifies its position.
If you’re interested in reading my answers for Jack over on C&CM, you can click here. Good luck to the Sooners today!