The Trae Young era has appear and gone at Oklahoma, abrogation a big aperture for the Sooners to fill.
It will acceptable be a accumulation effort.
As a apprentice aftermost season, Young became the aboriginal amateur to advance the nation in scoring and assists in a division and he is now arena for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. Running the point for Oklahoma this division will acceptable be a mix that includes Aaron Calixte, a alum alteration who denticulate 1,125 credibility for Maine; Miles Reynolds, who averaged 13.3 credibility per d for Pacific aftermost season; and apprentice Jamal Bieniemy, a four-star recruit.
“I don’t apperceive that you acquisition one amateur to do that, this accumulation is activity to do it as a group,” drillmaster Lon Kruger said. “I don’t apperceive that anyone is activity to advance in scoring and assists as Trae did, but this accumulation is motivated and they are assuming they can get acceptable results.”
Most of the blow of the aggregation returns, so hopes abide high. Guard Christian James started every d aftermost division and averaged 11.9 credibility and 4.4 rebounds. Advanced Brady Manek averaged 10.2 credibility aftermost division and fabricated 59 3-pointers. Center Jamuni McNeace, who breach time with Khadeem Lattin aftermost season, was additional on the aggregation with 46 blocks. Guard Rashard Odomes averaged 7.2 credibility per game.
“In the academy game, they’ve been through a lot of minutes,” Kruger said. “They apperceive what lies ahead. They apperceive how boxy the claiming is.”
Oklahoma opens the approved division Nov. 9 at Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
MAIN MAN MANEK
Manek’s apprentice division was abundantly overshadowed by Young, but he had a actual solid aboriginal year. The 6-foot-9 advanced was Oklahoma’s No. 3 scorer aftermost division with 10.2 credibility per game. He denticulate 21 credibility adjoin Wichita State, 22 adjoin Northwestern State, 28 adjoin Oklahoma State and 22 adjoin TCU aftermost season. He attempt 47 percent from the acreage and 38 percent from 3-point ambit for the season. Manek should be alike bigger this year.
“He’s gotten 15, 20 pounds added back he accustomed on campus, and he’s bigger and stronger because of the greater bulk, arena with aplomb and accomplishing a acceptable job,” Kruger said. “Last year, he was anticipation of as a stand-still shooter. Starting to put the brawl on the floor, starting to post-up, consistently been a acceptable rebounder, blocked shots added than expected. So he’s got a ablaze future.”
The coaches accept best the Sooners to accomplishment eighth in the 10-team conference, article that doesn’t assume to bother them.
“Those aboriginal weeks of convenance apparently the best agreeable time of the year because anybody is motivated for all the appropriate affidavit and not anxious about arena time,” Kruger said. “They’re not anxious about annihilation that’s been accounting or printed. They’re anxious about accepting bigger every day in convenance and aggressive in a actual advantageous way.”
Kruger is still activity at age 66 and shows no signs of slowing down. He’s the aboriginal Division I drillmaster to booty bristles altered schools to the NCAA Tournament and the alone drillmaster to win an NCAA Tournament d with bristles altered programs. He accomplished the Final Four in 1994 (Florida) and 2016 (Oklahoma) and owns the 10th-most victories (619) amid alive Division I arch coaches. Aftermost season, he led the Sooners to the NCAA Tournament again.
Forward Kristian Doolittle averaged 9.1 credibility and 6.2 rebounds two seasons ago as a freshman. Aftermost season, he absent the aboriginal allotment of the division because of grades, and by the time he returned, Manek was arena well. He could advice the Sooners if he can achieve his apprentice form.
The Sooners face a asperous non-conference slate that includes amateur adjoin Florida, Notre Dame, Wichita State, USC, Creighton, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and either Stanford or Wisconsin.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .
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