Men's basketball: Osby's ability as a vocal leader has 'lifted' this year's OU squad
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The OU men’s basketball team didn’t have much to celebrate last season.
After winning 10 of its first 12 games, OU went 5-13 in Big 12 play, finished the season with a losing record and, for the third year in a row, missed the NCAA tournament.
But 2012 wasn’t all bad for the Sooners. Despite last season’s lackluster results, a leader emerged: senior forward Romero “Roe” Osby.
“What he’s done has been really, really good,” coach Lon Kruger said. “(He’s) just sincere about [playing basketball], just has a passion; he’s in the gym; he’s very self-motivated.”
Last season, Osby led the Sooners in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage and was second in points to senior guard Steven Pledger — the Big 12’s leading returning scorer.
“He’s very genuine, works extremely hard and has continued to improve his game coming off of last year — a very good season for him,” Kruger said. “He finished very strong (last season and) carried that over into the spring and summer and fall.”
But the biggest thing Osby brings to the team can’t be quantified or found on a stat sheet.
While some seniors prefer to lead by example — take senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald, for instance — Osby has a reputation among his teammates for being vocal.
“Roe is more intense ... he’s more of a demanding leader,” Fitzgerald said.
Whether it’s in practice or in the heat of the game, Osby always can be heard barking out orders. He’s the guy who’s constantly talking — always in someone’s ear, always pushing someone to get better.
“Roe is interesting,” senior guard Sam Grooms said with a chuckle and a grin. “[Him being a vocal leader is] an everyday thing. He’s yelling; he’s screaming; he’s always the same. You really can’t find a change in him.”
Originally from Mississippi — he transferred to Oklahoma from Mississippi State in 2010 — Osby is entering his fifth year as a college athlete. He said it’s his wealth of experience that’s allowed to him take on such a prominent leadership role, and it’s not something he shies away from.
“I embrace [the vocal leader role] because I know my team needs to hear it,” Osby said. “We got some guys ... that sometimes need that little extra push, and I try to be the guy to do that.
“Trying to be vocal leader all the time, it’s tough, but somebody has to do it.”
But Osby has played the role so well for so long it’s reached the point where teammates become concerned if he’s not jawing at them, he said.
“If I’m not talking or something like that, people come to me and are like, ‘Roe, what’s wrong? Something must be wrong ‘cause you’re not talking,’” Osby said. “I try to always be [vocal].”
Osby’s leadership has given the Sooners a lift they wouldn’t have received otherwise.
“It gives us something we can always fall back on,” Grooms said. “You know that that’s there; you know that he’s always going to push you.”
With three freshmen — guards Isaiah Cousins, Je’lon Hornbeak and Buddy Hield — earning significant playing time this season, Osby’s impact on their development has been critical.
“I challenge them every day because I know they want to be good, and they challenge me, as well, because they’re good players,” Osby said. “Having them around is going to be really good for the program.”
And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about: the program.
“Competing for a Big 12 championship in the best way possible, finishing in the top half of the Big 12 and getting to the NCAA tournament, I’d consider that a successful season,” Osby said. “(It would mean) we started off on the right track; we’re getting the legacy started back at OU, and that’s what everyone here is accustomed to, and that’s what we want to do.”