The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel took questions from readers in today’s Power Lunch Chat. You can join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here’s a recap of today’s Q&A.
ON THE OKLAHOMA SOONERS:
Q: What is the latest with OU’s projected change to a 3-man front on defense?
A: They keep talking like they want to stay a 4-3. But I think that's a mirage. I think OU is going to implement a 3-4. Not totally, perhaps. But in large part. And by the way, I am going on record right now. I am not going to call it a 3-4. I am going to call it a 5-2. This is Oklahoma, where the 5-2 was perfected, if not invented.
Will Roy Finch ever get out of Stoops’ doghouse?
Another great question. I'm going to have to guess no. I'm not sure I've seen a guy who went from rising star to third- or fourth-teamer in such a quick fashion. I have no idea what's going on.
It seems as if there is hardly any news coming out of OU’s spring practices. Am I mistaken?
You are not mistaken. What comes out of OU is pretty boring. If you can't see practice, you have to rely on what people say, and maybe nothing's going on.
What is going on with the QB battle with OU?
Who knows? That's the mystery. We might not even see anything out of the spring game. I'll bet it's pretty vanilla.
Do you think Bennett and Spangler will both start next year with the departure of M'Baye?
Good chance, although I thought Cameron Clark was good at times playing inside. He's a much better player as an interior player who can jump outside than a wing player. Look for Clark to have a big year.
Has D.J. Ward been cleared by NCAA to practice?
Not that I'm aware of. What a total mess for Ward.
Do the OU women have one more shot at the dunkmaster from Baylor?
I think so. My pastor is a big Tennessee fan. He grew up in Knoxville. Loves women's basketball. He thinks OU will beat the Vols.
ON THE OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS:
The talk last year of the Chelf/Walsh/Lunt QB derby eventually "exposed" that maybe Chelf wasn't a good practice player. Wasn't that the knock on Weeden before he took over for Cate in that Thursday night Colorado game? I'm still in the Chelf camp for the Cowboys based purely on game performance. Agree or no?
The Chelf-didn't-practice-well theory came to light AFTER Chelf's rise. Gundy talked about it in December. That was the knock on Weeden, not necessarily that he didn't practice all that well, it's just that he was sort of a goof-off who didn't take it seriously. On the other hand, I've often wondered if that story on Weeden wasn't embellished as a way to cover the ridiculous decision to start Cate against Colorado.
I know it's early, but OSU looks to have the most dominant pair of D tackles in the league. A lot of defense coming back and lots of talent on the offensive side. Are they favored to win the league to start the season?
I think OSU or TCU will be favored. Maybe Texas. But if someone moves Texas up, it will be at TCU's expense. I think it's quite possible that OSU will be picked to win the Big 12.
ON THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AND THE NBA:
We saw some new changes in the rotation a little last night. Was Brooks experimenting against an inferior team to see what might work for the playoffs?
No, I don't think so. I asked him about that and he said he generally has his ideal rotation in mind, but wants the ability to remain flexible. And last night, Westbrook's early foul trouble threw everything out of kilter.
If the Thunder make it to the Finals and play the Heat, what do you think their chances are?
I'd give the Thunder about a 35 percent chance of winning. Which is not great at all. Last year, I'd have given OKC about a 55 percent chance of winning.
I know it takes way too much energy to really expect Westbrook to play hard-nosed defense the entire game because he has a ruthless style of play. But in my mind if he could limit some of his gambles he could be an all-defensive team player. He has the size, speed, strength, and obviously athleticism to be a lockdown defender.
You're right, but does he have the instincts? I think Westbrook will get better on defense, and at times he's very good. Really flexible — he can guard all kinds of guys. But I don't think he's ever going to be a Thabo-type defender.
If you’re the Thunder, do you want to see the Nuggets of the Clippers in the second round?
Here's how I would rank the teams the Thunder would most like to AVOID: 1. Spurs; 2. Grizzlies; 3. Clippers; 4. Nuggets; 5. Rockets; 6. Warriors; 7. Lakers; 8. Mavericks; 9. Jazz.
Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins: which is a better player overall?
Oh, I'd say Collison is a better player. He's a wonderful player. Does all kinds of things. But Perkins is invaluable because of the interior defense he provides. That's very hard to find. Collison is good, too, but Perkins can match up with almost any post player and neutralize them to some extent.
Who's your all-NBA first team?
Let's see. Four are easy: LeBron, Durant, Kobe, Chris Paul. Maybe James Harden. Maybe Tyson Chandler (I love Tyson Chandler).
Tyson Chandler is awesome. He's an all underrated team guy. That's a good subject. Here's my all underrated team: Marc Gasol. Tyson Chandler. Joakim Noah. Tony Allen. Nick Collison. Who's yours?
I like your list. Let's see. Who else? Danny Green. Kawhi Leonard. Ty Lawson.
When you compare KD and LeBron, what's the one thing that separates them? Is it defense? Passing? Feel for the game? Ball handling? Is it just the team’s overall game plan for them?
First off is physical strength. LeBron is as athletic as Durant, yet outweighs him by what? 50 pounds? Strong as an ox, which means he can do all kinds of things around the basket and defending. He's an excellent passer, but KD is good, too. Durant is a better shooter, but LeBron is good, too. LeBron's probably a better ballhandler, but Durant is fine there. I just think LeBron's strength makes him a defensive marvel.
Do you think the media’s coverage of the Heat lately is too much? Too little? Or just enough? I know they just won 27 straight. But they lost. It's over. Now I want to hear about the NCAA Tourney and other things. What the Heat did was incredible but I do not think them losing warrants so much coverage.
Well, if you're going to cover the streak like crazy, you have to cover their defeat like crazy. With that said, it will settle down starting tonight or tomorrow. Everything is overhyped these days. The Heat is near the top of the list.
Did you see Hinrich's tackle on LeBron James? James is making it seem like it was a terribly dirty play, but it looked defensive to me. LBJ probably outweighs him 90 pounds.
I did see it, and I agree. I don't see what the big deal is. I don't think it was defensive — Hinrich did pull a takedown — but Hinrich did take the brunt of the fall. Everyone is a little too touchy these days.
Finish this sentence for me. LeBron James is …
The greatest basketball player in the world and one of the greatest of all time.
ALL OF THE EXTRAS:
Your pick to win The Masters and why?
Tiger Woods, because he's the best player in the world.
Sad to hear Tim McCarver is stepping down as a baseball analyst after this year. His insight, to me, makes postseason baseball worth watching.
I was saddened, too, not because of any insight — I find virtually all baseball analysts boring these days; I wish Joe Garagiola was still around telling stories — but because Tim McCarver has always been a part of my life. Always. When I discovered baseball at age six, listening to Cardinal games, McCarver was the St. Louis catcher. That was 1967. Here 46 years later, he's still around.
My wife and I are season ticket holders for the Barons and it has been sad attending the games this year with poor attendance. Are there true grumblings about the Barons closing shop in OKC?
Not that I've heard. I've heard that the Oilers like being in OKC but want to see better attendance.
I listen to you, Jim, and Al on the Sports Animal almost everyday. Love it. Granted you barely get a word in, but I still love it.
Thanks. Good thing they don't pay me by the word. I wouldn't be able to have an egg salad sandwich for lunch.