Lesson Learned: Oklahoma Sooners' Veterans Need to Play More

J. Robert ByromCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 21:  Cade Davis #34 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to make a play with the ball during their second round game against the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 21, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Sooners defeated the Wolverines 73-63.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tommy-Mason Griffin, Steven Pledger, and Tiny Gallon are great athletes and the future of the Sooners.

However, to win now, we need veterans like Cade Davis, Tony Crocker, and Ryan Wright to step up and give the young guns time to learn how to play defense at the college level.

OU coach Jeff Capel gave the threesome of freshman phenoms the majority of the minutes in the first six games. That strategy led to a lackluster 3-3 start.

While early season struggles were to be expected with such a young team, losses to VCU, Houston, and San Diego were not.

Houston scored 100 points on the Sooners. That many points should never be allowed by a major conference competitive team that prides itself on defense.

OU was the preseason No. 3 team in the conference, but that looks unlikely now as both Texas Tech and A&M have managed to knock off top 25 teams early and Kansas and Texas are now No. 1 and No. 2 in the polls.

A 20-point win over Arkansas does not mean that all their problems are fixed, but holding the Razorbacks to only 47 points is a good sign that this team can play defense at time.

Davis got the most minutes of his career, 38, and subsequently had his best complete game on both sides of the ball, especially defensively, where mostly he held Arkansas super-shooter Rontei Clarke to only 11 points, 16 points below his average.

Crocker, who excelled defensively, also had a great offensive night against Arkansas, finishing with a double-double.

While the freshmen will be needed throughout the season, if OU wants to save the season, the veterans need to play more because the freshmen have proven they are not ready defensively for D-I college basketball.

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