Oklahoma looks to reload without Buddy Hield
The Associated Press - October 27, 2016 9:19 am
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – Last season, Oklahoma reached the Final Four. This season, the coaches have picked the Sooners to finish sixth in the Big 12.
The reasons are many. The core of the team, Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler, has moved on. Hield, an All-American who was edged by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine for AP Player of the Year, now plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Oklahoma still expects to be competitive as the holdovers take on more significant roles.
“They’re a talented group,” coach Lon Kruger said. “How quickly they mature and grow into those roles remains to be seen, but certainly, we need them to do that. I think they can, and hopefully, even more quickly than people expect them to.”
Jordan Woodard, a senior who has started every game of his career, was second on the team with 13 points per game last season and shot 45.5 percent from 3-point range. He played primarily shooting guard last season, but he’ll play point guard most of this season.
“As he did last year, we need him to score,” Kruger said. “We need him to push the pace. We need him to be aggressive defensively. With the other three guys, they had the target on their back. Now, Jordan’s going to have that target on his back. He’s got a big adjustment in terms of preparing for that.”
Center Khadeem Lattin, known as a defensive specialist, will be expected to score now. Lattin averaged 5.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and just over two blocks per game last season.
“Much more aggressive this year offensively,” Kruger said. “He’ll be a guy that we need to score. He’ll be able to. He’s worked hard, put a lot of time in. He’s shooting the ball well.”