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OU basketball: Sooners are off to Belgium, France

Tuesday is going to be a very long day for the OU men's basketball team. But Sooners coach Lon Kruger hopes the day will be the start of a rewarding experience both on and off the court for his team.
by Ryan Aber Modified: August 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm •  Published: August 6, 2013

Tuesday is going to be a very long day for the Oklahoma men's basketball team.

But Sooners coach Lon Kruger hopes the day will be the start of a rewarding experience both on and off the court for his team.

The Sooners leave for a 10-day, five-game trip to Belgium and France.

Oklahoma opens play on the trip Thursday.

“It's going to be a great experience playing against people overseas,” sophomore guard Isaiah Cousins said. “It's going to be great for us to come together as a team and start early so we can be prepared for this big season we've got coming this year.”

NCAA rules allow teams to make one such foreign trip every four years and this trip appears to come at a perfect time for the Sooners, who return just two starters from last season's NCAA Tournament team.

One of those returners, Buddy Hield, won't play after reinjuring his foot last week during practice. Hield suffered the original injury against TCU last season.

“As young as we are and with as many new faces and guys that haven't played Big 12 minutes before, it's really good,” Kruger said. “The basketball side of it, the bonding and chemistry side of it and identifying maybe different roles, it's very helpful.”

Perhaps just as importantly as the trip, the Sooners were able to have 10 extra practice sessions before leaving.

The last of those sessions was held Monday.

“It's monumental,” sophomore Je'lon Hornbeak said. “We're getting the defense down. You can see that's what we really work on in practice.

“Defense is going to be the main point. We've got a few people new to the system and we've got a few people that redshirted last year so although they were here, they really didn't get a chance to get offensive reps in.”

The core guard group — Hield, Hornbeak and Cousins — figures to be the backbone of this team once the season rolls around.

But the frontcourt is new, with forwards D.J. Bennett and Ryan Spangler coming off redshirt seasons and a pair of junior college big men coming in.

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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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Roster breakdown

Oklahoma leaves Tuesday for a 10-day trip to Belgium and France. Here's a look at the players who are expected to be on the Sooners roster for the trip. Two junior college players — Keshaun Hamilton and Edson Avila — are expected to join the Sooners after they return.

D.J. Bennett, junior, forward

After redshirting last season, Bennett figures to play a prominent role in a frontcourt that is in rebuilding mode.

Frank Booker, freshman, guard

The 6-foot-4 freshman averaged 27.9 points and 4.1 assists as a high school senior in Augusta, Ga., last season.

Cameron Clark, senior, guard

Saw action in 32 games last season, averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds off the bench.

C.J. Cole, redshirt freshman, forward

The 6-foot-7 forward from Sperry averaged 21.6 points and 16.6 rebounds as a senior in helping his team to its first-ever state tournament appearance.

Isaiah Cousins, sophomore, guard

After starting the first 10 games of last season, Cousins started just four games the rest of the way and finished averaging 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds.

James Fraschilla, junior, guard

The walk-on saw time in 15 games over the last two seasons.

Daniel Harper, freshman, guard

The Norman native averaged 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists with the Tigers.

Buddy Hield, sophomore, guard

One of the key pieces of last year's NCAA Tournament team, Hield will not play on the trip after aggravating a foot injury during practice. He will travel with the team, though.

Je'lon Hornbeak, sophomore, guard

Hornbeak started the final nine games of the season and 29 overall in averaging 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman.

Austin Mankin, freshman, forward

A sophomore academically, Mankin shot .418 from behind the 3-point line as a senior in high school in 2011-12.

Tyler Neal, senior, forward

Neal saw time off the bench in 27 games for last year's Sooners, averaging 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds.

Trey Slate, freshman, guard

The Gore native is on the roster after serving as OU's team manager last season.

Ryan Spangler, sophomore, forward

Spangler is back after sitting out last year following his transfer from Gonzaga, where he averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds off the bench as a freshman.

Jordan Woodard, freshman, guard

Woodard helped Edmond Memorial to the Class 6A title last season, hitting a buzzer-beating tip-in while playing on an injured hamstring in the championship game.


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