Romero Osby sat in a black chair with a stern face, as his teammates surrounding him seemed to sink back in the gray cubbyholes of their lockers at Kansas City's Sprint Center.
Osby was prepared to answer the questions of Oklahoma's loss to Iowa State in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Championship on Wednesday. What happened? Why did it happen?
Although he is one of the Sooners' three captains, Osby is the one who answers the most for the team, who has emerged as the leader and who can be credited as the reason for its recent success — and recent stumbles.
But the real question is this: What has happened to Romero Osby?
Oklahoma's senior forward has been struggling of late. In the Sooners' loss at TCU, he struggled right along with his teammates to beat a Horned Frogs squad that only lost one other Big 12 game. In that outing, Osby scored 19 points, but only three of them came in the first half, when the Sooners needed a lift.
Against Iowa State, a guy off the bench almost outshined Osby. Osby came out and scored 12 in the first half but didn't make a basket in the final nine minutes of the game. He ended with 18 points and nine rebounds, but Cam Clark aided the team just as much even though he played 15 fewer minutes than Osby. Clark got hot late in the second and added 17 points and four rebounds.
On top of that, Osby also uncharacteristically complained about fouls and the officiating.
“It was just a tough game,” he said. “I gotta keep my composure and not get frustrated, but at the same time I just felt like I was getting hit a lot, but they were getting hit too. ...
Sometimes you get the calls. Sometimes you don't.”
It hasn't always been this way.
Osby led the team in scoring in 13 of Oklahoma's 18 conference game and scored in double figures in all but one. He was kept to just six points against Iowa State in the teams' first matchup of the season.
He led the league in field goals (109) and also ranked second in scoring (17.8 points per game).
Before the Big 12 Tournament, Osby was averaging 22.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in the last seven outings. He was also named to the coaches' All-Big 12 First Team. And it's not that Osby isn't still producing — it's just no longer coming at the right times.
Are Osby's recent struggles a byproduct of carrying a 20-win team through a majority of its second halves and helping Oklahoma turn things around?
“We don't really stop and think about that,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said about his quick turnaround of a team that went 15-16 in his first year at the helm. “We feel like if we can surround ourselves with the types of motivated, team-first attitudes it can happen.
“There are so many uncertainties. You just don't know you're going to have a leader like Romero emerge.”
And Osby's emergence — and disappearance — is the main reason for Oklahoma's success and struggles.