The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel took questions from readers in today’s Power Lunch Chat covering college basketball, football, the Oklahoma City Thunder and more. You can join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here’s a look at today’s Q&A.
ON COLLEGE BASKETBALL:
What would be the Big 12 tournament finals matchup you would most like to see in Kansas City?
Easiest question in the history of the world. OU-OSU. A Bedlam championship game. We've never had one. Sooners and Cowboys have both won a ton, but never against each other in the title game. Sign me up. And it's not crazy talk this year.
What's the ceiling for both state schools this year in regards to the NCAA Tourney? I could realistically see OU putting a Sweet 16 run together if seeding is right and could see Oklahoma State in the Final Four. What do you think?
Oh, sure. You're right. But they also could be first-round upset victims. The parity is so great, it's mostly about matchups. Not how good of a team you draw, but what kind of a team you draw. That's the key.
ON OU FOOTBALL:
Strange that Mike Stoops took responsibility for the 2012 disaster. His brother never did that.
That's typically Mike's personality. He doesn't have much of a filter. Bob has a filter. But Mike Stoops says what's on his mind.
Over/under on OU football wins next year?
If I was setting the number, I would set 10 ½. Then I would take the under. I think OU will go 10-3.
Other than quarterback, what do you think we will learn from OU's spring practice? I'm looking for real insight, not the normal predictable stuff.
I don't think you're going to learn much of anything. No one gets to watch practice, and Stoops as much said that he doesn't want to give away anything at the spring game. So maybe we'll see how the quarterbacks rank. But I doubt we get a good feel for the offense or even the defense, in terms of alignments.
Any initial impressions of the new OU football coaches?
No. I was not able to attend the impromptu press conference with Boulware and Montgomery on Wednesday. I sort of like their resumes, but otherwise, I don't know much.
Is Bob Stoops getting more and more isolated as each year goes by? He seems to be under a lot more stress these days. Do you think he will resign any time soon, if things don't improve?
Isolated doesn't seem like exactly the right word, but I know what you mean. He does seem more defensive. I don't think he'll resign any time soon. He strikes me as ready to fight out of this.
I really like that Stoops finally hired a special teams coach. Seems to have done a good job at his other teams. Seems confident.
Depends. Bobby Jack Wright was actually the designated special teams coach the last couple of years. This might be a designation, too, rather than a full commitment. I would like to see OU or OSU hire a guy who was totally committed to special teams. The way the NFL does.
Does Bob's hiring of his brother, Mike, essentially paint Bob into a corner long term? Meaning, if the Mike experiment fails, does Bob's tenure end? In that scenario, unlike in 2002, no one will hire Mike away and I can't see Bob firing or "demoting" Mike the way he did Venables. If Mike fails does Bob have to go down with the ship? As a huge Stoops supporter I can't believe I'm writing this, but the thought has crossed my mind whether someday they may really regret the deal if things don’t work out.
It's an excellent point. I think the answer is yes. They'll either succeed or fail together. Now, I think the reasons to believe that they'll succeed are many. I'm generally optimistic about the long-term future of OU football under Stoops. But you're right. It's going to be interesting with the brother situation.
ON OKLAHOMA STATE FOOTBALL:
What did you think of Yurcich's comments about the OSU quarterbacks?
I was interested that Yurcich didn't want to comment on any QB individually. You know he has to have watched a ton of film. I guess he's walking softly until he's with these guys more.
ON THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AND THE NBA:
I know KD is the best shooter in the NBA, but he may be the worst in the NBA for handling the basketball. He is a great dribbler for someone who is 6' 11", but he gives up a ton of turnovers. Does he insist on handling the ball or is this something that Brooks really wants him to do?
I assume Brooks wants him to handle the ball, and the truth is, Durant has gotten much better. Last night, not so much. KD had a bunch of turnovers. But he's been playing much better in terms of ballhandling, and Durant driving to the basket is a total load for defenses.
Big win for the Thunder against the Knicks last night, but would the game have gone differently with Carmelo on the court?
NO. In fact, I keep arguing that the Knickerbockers are no better with Carmelo. He's a ballstopper. He's a scorer, but they've got other scorers.
How much do Westbrook’s turnovers detract from his good qualities?
Westbrook's turnovers are down. But either way, they don't detract from his play. Look at the NBA leaders in turnovers. They're all stars. Heck, I'll look it up. Here are the top five NBA players in turnovers this season: Kobe Bryant, Jrue Holliday, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant. It's guys who have the ball in their hands a lot, shoot a lot of shots and make a lot of passes.
I assume that a lot of Westbrook’s turnovers are as a result of his fast pace of play. I'm sure he will get better each year.
He has gotten better every year. Every month, really. He does play at breakneck speed, which can lead to miscues (to use one of Eddie Sutton's favorite words).
Everyone gets on Russ, but if OKC wins a title I think he will be the main reason why. LeBron can slow down and frustrate KD, but Miami has no answer for Russ
Good point. Here's what's interesting about Thunder-Heat. Westbrook is better than Wade. Ibaka is just as good if not better than Bosh. Thunder role players are about as good as the Heat role players. But Miami has a big edge, because of LeBron.
I'm definitely not an NBA expert because I only pay attention during the Playoffs, but is Westbrook really better than Wade? Or is Wade just a little diminished under the enormous shadow of LeBron?
Westbrook is better. Westbrook is where Wade was before he lost a step. Lost a little explosiveness. Westbrook's explosiveness is top of the line.
ON THE NFL:
Do you think next year is make or break for Bradford with the Rams next year? Do you think they compete for a playoff berth?
Make or break? No. Sammy B. is the Ram quarterback for the future. Yes, I think the Rams will compete for a playoff, but it won't be easy. Suddenly, this is the toughest division in the NFL.
ALL THE EXTRAS:
I heard you talk about attendance in college sports a couple of days ago (haven't yet read your Bowlsby piece). I totally agree with the impact TV has had on attendance. Years ago, weren't there blackouts if fans didn't show for games?
I can't recall if it was ticket sales, no-shows, or combination thereof that gave rise to that. It seems like it was mostly NFL-related and the blackouts were in the immediate proximity of the local team. Is that an option for the college game or would there be too much public outcry?
Can't do it in college. The TV contracts don't allow it, and sellouts would not occur, so you'd have a ton of blackouts, and the TVs wouldn't like it. Most college viewing is provincial — regional or local. Not so with the NFL. NFL blackouts are rare. Just wouldn't work.