Can a slimmer, trimmer Andrew Fitzgerald boost Oklahoma's basketball team?

Sophomore forward Andrew Fitzgerald has lost almost 50 pounds since he arrived at Oklahoma. As he's shed the pounds, the Sooners have also shed some talent and trouble. What does OU's basketball team have to gain?
By MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: November 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm •  Published: November 11, 2010
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NORMAN — Oklahoma sophomore forward Andrew Fitzgerald looks like a different player.

Literally.

A slimmer, trimmer Fitzgerald will play a key role for the Sooners, who open their season Friday night against Coppin State.

Fitzgerald has lost nearly 25 pounds, close to 50 pounds since he arrived as a 273-pound freshman two summers ago. He decreased his body fat from 23.4 to 9.0 percent.

"It's a complete difference," said Fitzgerald, one of only three returning OU players who logged significant playing time last season. "I feel more explosive. I'm more mobile. I can defend. It's crazy. I can even defend some of the guards on the team. But I'm still working on muscling up."

On a team that lacks size, the 6-foot-8 225-pound Baltimore product will be asked to anchor one of the Sooners' biggest concerns — rebounding.

Despite being in foul trouble in OU's only exhibition game last week, Fitzgerald recorded a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds.

"I realized I was too heavy to play in this league," Fitzgerald said. "I realized the bigs in our conference are slimmer and more mobile. I had to lose weight."

Fitzgerald, who averaged 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds last season as a reserve, is one of OU's veteran leaders.

"Because of his condition he's able to play for longer periods of time," said senior guard Cade Davis, OU's only returning starter. "He's more agile. He moves better. He's also shooting the ball better. He shot well last year but he's shooting even better."

Fitzgerald's most productive games were against elite teams late in the season. He scored a season-high 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in a loss at No. 1 Kansas. He scored 14 points with five rebounds against No. 7 Kansas State.

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