As many of you know, the Big 12 preseason rankings had Kansas and Texas 1-2 respectively, but who was given the 3rd place ranking aka "the darkhorse"? The Oklahoma Sooners, with a very capable coach in Jeff Capel, a Naisman watchlist guy in Willie Warren, a senior glue guy in Tony Crocker, and a very good recruiting class. I haven't watched them -- maybe it's chemistry issues -- but through the very early going OU has come out of the gates with a 2-3 record against very suspect competition.
After cruising in two home games against cupcakes (most teams do this, so can't rag on them there), they traveled to VA to face a VCU team formerly coached by Capel and most recently in the national spotlight from Eric Maynor's Duke Dagger. But this team didn't have Maynor. VCU hit a barrage of 3's, went on a HUGE run, and OU never got closer than 10. Capel sounded relieved in his postgame remarks, glad that the country saw that his team isn't as good as everyone said they were -- paraphrasing.
OK, a road test under the belt and some things to work on (like guarding 3 pt shooters), they travel up to Anchorage for the Great Alaska Shootout as arguably the marquee team (argument could be made for Wazzu). The tournament has really dropped off the radar since the turn of the century, and the list of teams is not exactly a whos-who in college basketball.
First up...the Sombreros, I mean Toreros of San Diego (can't think of San Diego without thinking of Anchorman, thanks Ron Burgundy!) Give them credit, they beat Stanford, and they come from a pretty darn good west coast conference with the likes of Gonzaga, Portland (just creamed UCLA), and Saint Marys. OU seems to have a knack for giving up big runs, usually a sign of a poor defensive team. 290-lb Tiny Gallon has been averaging double figures in rebounds, yet OU has been getting out rebounded. Capel once again was brutally honest about his squad, saying, "we're not a very good team right now."
OK rough first game, who's up next? UH Cougars, who had to travel even farther, coached by none other than our old friend Tom Penders and led by "fire and ice" -- Aubrey Coleman (30 pts/game and Kelvin Lewis 18 pts/game). Good offensive team averaging over 90 pts per game vs. a poor defensive team? Recipe for disaster for OU -- they let UH put a hundo on the scoreboard. OU actually went on a little run of their own to give them a comfy lead, but alas they showed their true colors, and let UH go on runs of 11-0 and 19-4 to seal the deal.
The good news? Well, not sure there is much. Warren and Gallon are putting up the numbers we thought they would, so thats not the issue. They have a pretty good coach? That's all I got.
The bad news? That was the easy part of the non-con schedule, with games against arkansas, zona, and the zags up coming. They play in the Big 12. They are young, not very deep, and not defensively tough. Capel: "Houston, we have a problem"......... Penders: "apparently"