COLUMN: Despite recent losses, Sooners have a shot next year
The OU men’s basketball team’s season came to an end Friday night in a 70-55 loss to San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament.
It was a somewhat deflating way for the season to end for the Sooners, who finished 20-12. They lost their last three games of the year, including a shocking 70-67 upset by TCU, a hard fought 73-66 defeat to Iowa State and the aforementioned setback against San Diego State.
However, even though the team didn’t finish this year strongly, it is poised to come back as good or even better next year.
While the departure of senior guards Steven Pledger and Sam Grooms and of senior forwards Romero Osby and Andrew Fitzgerald undoubtedly will be a huge loss, the team is structured so there are plenty of people ready to step into leadership roles.
The unquestioned leader next year most likely will be junior forward Amath M’Baye. He was an integral part of the Sooners this year, averaging 10.1 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Also stepping into the spotlight of leadership will be junior forward Cameron Clark — the Sooners’ sixth man this season — who had the second-best field goal percentage on the team this year.
Finally, OU will be bolstered by its trio of freshman guards, Je’lon Hornbeak, Isaiah Cousins and Buddy Hield.
Another year of action and increased roles on the team should be good for Hornbeak, Cousins and Hield, and they should thrive as they become more accustomed to playing the college game.
Aside from the players, coach Lon Kruger will be in his third year, which means his culture will be ingrained almost completely in the team, paving the way for improvements in teamwork.
Add those factors to the potential for a good recruiting class, and you have a recipe for a good basketball team, one that potentially could surpass this year’s achievements.
Garrett Holt is a journalism sophomore.