Spangler was an absolute bear for Nash and the Cowboys to contend with, especially on the boards. He created so much space in the paint that sometimes it looked like he was the only one allowed to go for the rebound.
He contends he was born with that nose for the ball.
“I think God gave me that ... when it leaves a shooter's hand, to be able to see where it's going to come off the rim,” Spangler said. “And I've been getting used to my teammates and how they shoot. That's why I'm rebounding more lately.”
And the times when a Cowboy contended for a ball that Spangler wanted, he battled and scrapped and did whatever he had to do.
“Ryan's kind of been the cornerstone for our growth in the toughness area,” Kruger said. “I think we're getting tougher. I think we've made big strides in that area. ... We're kind of feeding off of Ryan's toughness in there.”
Sooner guard Tyler Neal said: “It's hard to find words to describe how much he's helped this team. That was really obvious last year even before he was on the court.”
Spangler sat out as a redshirt last season, of course, after transferring from Gonzaga. Part of the reason he made the decision to leave there and come to OU was the chance to have nights like Monday. He grew up in the Bridge Creek school district as a lifelong Sooner fan. He went to Bedlam numerous times as a kid, though he remembers going to more football Bedlams than basketball Bedlams because his dad was a football coach.
Spangler brings a football mentality to the basketball court.
The dude is relentless.
And that game face? It's relentless, too, though Spangler insists that in the huddle with his teammates during games, he does crack a smile every now and again.
“I can't let other people see me smile,” he said.
The game face is a serious matter.
For opponents, so is Spangler.
Jenni Carlson can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.