The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel took questions from readers today in his Power Lunch Chat. Topics included the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State football, college football from around the nation, the NFL and more. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports.
Here's a recap of the chat:
ON THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER:
Thabo Sefolosha needs to shoot the ball more for OKC when he is open. Do you think he's playing too many minutes?
Thabo needs to play. He needs to play as many minutes as possible. If you need more offense, put in Martin and take out one of the bigs. The Thunder got butchered in Miami last year because Scotty Brooks forgot about Thabo. Thabo has to play around 30 minutes a night. He's too good on defense, and he's not in any way an offensive liability. I agree, go ahead and shoot more, Thabo. But he needs to play more, not less.
Do you like it, love it, or hate it that KD is trying to expand his all-around game?
I sort of like it. Especially the rebounding. I love the rebounding. But I'll grant you that Durant occasionally looks to pass a little much. Except in crunch time, Durant still seems willing to take it all on his shoulders.
Birthday Boy Westbrook played a great game last night. Your thoughts on his performance?
Sir Russell Westbrook now is 24. Looks to me like he remains serious about basketball at age 24. He was the only Boomer who was into the game for three quarters last night. Then everybody joined up with him.
Any chance Kevin Martin resigns with the Thunder next year? What type of money will he want? He can score and we've seen scorers get money. Ben Gordon, Harden, Eric Gordon, etc.
All depends. What does Martin want? Does he want a max contract? Or does he like being here and winning? Does the Thunder want him back? I think there's a good chance he'll want to return and the Thunder will want him back. But it's a long year.
Do you think anyone will admit that the Thunder are better off with Martin and financial flexibility than they would be with James Harden and a large tax bill looming?
I think a lot of people already have said so. Some haven't, but a lot have. So I think if the Thunder plays well, the platitudes will come.
What do you think of Darnell Mayberry's new nickname for Westbrook -- Wolverine?
I sort of like it. He ran with it, and maybe it will stick. I will support it.
Biggest concern right now for the OKC Thunder?
Lack of defensive intensity. The Thunder seems to be asleep early against Atlanta, Detroit, etc. Get with it.
If anyone wanted Lamb to get more minutes, they just need to watch the 02:58 he played last night. With that said I do like PJIII but it looks like he just disappears when he gets in the game. What are your thoughts?
Jones looks completely lost. Lamb did, too, last night. It wasn't a bad spot to try him. Give Brooks credit. He got Lamb in and got him out quickly.
The Thunder is in the top 8 in all the major defensive categories. In my opinion, turnovers are the biggest problem for OKC.
Yes. But I think OKC has to live with it. Sort of like Brett Favre. You have to live with the interceptions. The Thunder's style just leads to that. You want the up-tempo, you want the drives to the basket, you have to live with the turnovers.
Why do you think OKC has been lackadaisical on defense?
Long season. Boredom. Just trying to get through the day.
Could the Thunder make a move for a guy like Mickaël Piétrus? They really need someone to try to slow down LeBron.
I don't like Piétrus against LeBron. I think the Thunder needs a big small forward, or a small big forward. Stephen Jackson, Shawn Marion, people like that. The dude in New Jersey. Gerald Wallace. I would love to see the Thunder pick up someone like that.
ON THE NBA:
James Harden had a good initiation to having his own team this week, the Rockets played the Griz and he was defended by Tony Allen, and they played the Heat and he was picked up by Shane Battier and then LeBron on an end of game play when they needed a three. Do you think he was looking around for Kevin or Russ?
No, I don't think he was looking for his old pals. I would guess that it remains somewhat euphoric for Harden to be the franchise cornerstone. But when February arrives, and Houston is five games under .500, and he's headed for a road trip to Minnesota and Detroit, then reality sets in.
Who are your top 5 NBA players? Mine: 1. LeBron; 2. KD; 3. Chris Paul; 4. Dwyane Wade; 5. Dwight Howard.
Oh, I don't know about Wade. Healthy, I'd put Derrick Rose ahead of Wade. If healthy, Dwight Howard belongs, too.
Did you see what LeBron did last night? 38, 10 and 6. 16 in the fourth and put his team up with 18 seconds left. And guarded Harden on the three. He is out of this world good.
LeBron James is good? No freakin' kidding. The guy is fabulous. He's the best player since Jordan, and when someone trots out that LeBron could be better than Jordan, it's not nonsense. He is unbelievable.
ON OKLAHOMA SOONERS FOOTBALL:
Ed Cunningham was critical of Tony Jefferson too in the Iowa State game. I was a little disappointed. Saying he was targeting and hitting illegally. As Jim Traber says this is the sissification of sports. I agree. Bring back smashmouth football.
Traber is a good friend of mine. But he's full of crap. We've got 50-year-old men walking around with no memory, some of them NOT walking around. Why did Traber wear a batting helmet? Time was, hitters didn't wear batting helmets.
OU will be favored in each of their last three games. What do you think the likelihood of stumbling is? Who is most likely to beat OU?
Let's see. West Virginia, I'd give OU a 75 percent chance. OSU, 80 percent. TCU, 65 percent. So I guess I'm saying TCU is most likely to beat the Sooners.
Why does Tom Wort continue to play? Misses a lot of tackles. Seems like Shannon is playing better than him right now.
Franklin Shannon is better against spread passing teams. But Wort clearly is better against teams that can come at you with power. That's why Wort was solid against Notre Dame. Not against Baylor.
Why the shortage of good players in OU’s defensive front seven? It’s not because of injuries.
I think the OU defensive line is solid. Not great, but solid. The linebackers are a little iffy, but not terrible. I'd say the Sooners also have good depth on the line. At least three good tackles, 2-3 solid ends. The problem is, most are seniors. I'd be really worried about OU's defensive front NEXT season.
Seems that the dismissals have caused a lack of depth in OU. What happened that the program to recruit so many malcontents? I don’t think we’ve seen this to that degree before. Has Stoops regained control?
It looks to me like Stoops has regained control, although you never know. I think the Sooners have gotten a little shy on numbers. We'll see how it plays out in the future.
I assume the players that were dismissed last year at OU were dismissed as a result of smoking dope and not going to class (though Stoops would never address this publicly). If so, how can that be? They aren't watching these guys like a hawk, especially their school work?
Well, you can't keep guys from smoking dope. As for going to class, they do monitor these guys. And when they don't go, they discipline them, and eventually, they release them. But sometimes, the academic side is not just going to class. Sometimes it's not doing the work.
Looks like if OU wins out they will go to a BCS. I consider this a successful season if they make it to a BCS. I know the goal at OU is championships. But you can't do that very single year.
I would largely agree, although it certainly would help if the Sooners win in the BCS. 10-3 with a Fiesta Bowl loss would be an OK year, but also would be disappointing.
If Blake bell can throw -- we know he has a cannon -- but if he's accurate, then you have to think the sky's the limit for OU next year. They'll have great running backs. Great receivers. A decent enough o line. Need some d lineman. Your thoughts?
The sky's the limit is a little strong. If Bell is an accurate thrower AND a good decision-maker (the latter is more important), then the OU offense should indeed be strong. But I see no way Blake is as effective as Landry Jones. Maybe he will be. I just don't see it.
Do you think OU's defense would look any different if Venables had decided to stay?
Yes. I loved Venables, but clearly, Mike Stoops has made a difference for the Sooner D. It's playing better, with mostly the same guys.
ON OKLAHOMA STATE FOOTBALL:
Ten years ago, Oklahoma State is 3-6, not 6-3, if it had used 3 starting QBs in a season, including a true freshman. That's how much I believe that OK State has enhanced its program in the last decade. Thoughts?
No doubt about it. Think of the old days. Al Pena. Aso Pogi. BJ Tiger. Bo Bowling. The Cowboys always were looking for a quarterback. If they found one, they certainly didn't have two.
Do the Pokes have another kicker (Quinn Sharp?) who will play on Sundays? It sure seems like it based on his performance to date.
I would agree. I think Sharp is too good at a lot of different things to miss. He could be a punter, a kickoff man, a field goal man, although the latter is clearly his weakest.
What is your best guess on who OSU's starting QB will be on Saturday?
Best guess? Chelf. He's played well. No great reason to change. But it's fascinating. Here's a good question. Why not play multiple QBs?
ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL AROUND THE NATION:
Looks like Mack Brown will win 10 games if Texas loses to K-State. Do you think he would leave on his own since he would have had a successful year?
Interesting twist. I would guess that it would be easier for him to leave. Walk away a winner.
Pat Jones was overly reactive to what Tommy Tuberville did on Saturday. Jones said that Tubervile acted in the heat of the moment and he had seen a lot worse. Do you think Tuberville went too far?
I think Tuberville was out of line. Keep your hands to yourself. Here's why college football is so screwed up. Lots of places, your boss does that, you cold cock him. If that dude had decked Tuberville right there, Tuberville's career — not that guy's — was in the crapper.
I heard that Al and Sam Mayes got into a major argument on Saturday after the game regarding recruiting. Sam thinks that A&M will be helped in recruiting just because they went to the SEC and that is where all the great recruits want to be and Texas will start losing to them in the recruiting war. Your thoughts?
I think it will be a wash. I think A&M will have some benefits from being in the SEC. That will appeal to a lot of players. But losing so many games in the region — far fewer drivable road games for the Ags — will hurt some Texans in recruiting.
Any chance Gary Patterson or Mike Gundy bolt for Arkansas or Tennessee?
I can't see Gundy leaving. OSU is a better job. Easier access to the Big Bowl. Patterson? That's a good question. Personally, I'd take the Arkansas job over Tennessee. Arkansas has self-inflicted injuries. Tennessee seems in a perpetual slump.
Is it possible for the college football playoff to go from 4 to 8 within the next 12 year contract or do we have to wait until that expires?
It's possible, but I think the four-teamer survives all 12 years. I think they want to preserve the bowl system, and eight teams ends the bowls.
What do you like and dislike in the new college playoff system that was finalized yesterday?
I don't like the Orange Bowl being tied to non-champs. I think that's goofy. Otherwise, I'm fine with it. Get back to me when we find out the format for the selection, etc.
Do you think Mangino will be back in coaching next year?
I would guess yes. But I have no great guesses. Some of these new allegations of physical and verbal abuse of players won't help Mangino's cause.
ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PROJECTIONS:
I expect USC vs. Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl and LSU v OU in the Sugar Bowl ... that sounds great, right?
Does sound great. LSU-OU is more likely in the Fiesta. OU-A&M, OU-Florida, sign me up for any of them.
Thoughts on a potential Nebraska-Oklahoma Rose Bowl?
Sign me up for it. I'm all for it. It would take a series of unlikely events to occur — Notre Dame and Oregon would have to make the Big Bowl, and no other Pac-12 team could finish in the top 14. But if the Rose Bowl had to take someone besides Notre Dame, it would probably vote for OU, with the endorsement of Nebraska.
I see K-State-Oregon for the BCS National Championship title game. And OU vs. LSU in the Fiesta. Your thoughts?
I think OU-Florida is more likely. If the Gators beat Florida State, they would be 11-1 and might jump LSU in the BCS.
ON COLLEGE BASKETBALL:
In your article that you will be writing on college basketball reform, will you also include what it will it take to convince the NCAA to implement those changes?
Good question. The conferences, the big conferences, will have to step up and demand reform. That's the only thing that changes anything.
ON THE NFL:
How is anybody with any authority at all with the Chiefs still employed? Now it sounds like ownership problems, and that is bad news because Clark Hunt can't fire himself. There is a new report that Todd Haley still hasn't been paid the remaining amount owed him from his guaranteed contract.
Well, I don't know anything about the contract stuff. But the Chiefs are a mess. Scott Pioli's is a failed administration. You might have hit on it. Ownership problems.