NORMAN — Oklahoma’s biggest weakness on its men’s basketball team this season was interior offense.
The Sooners had sharp-shooting guards at three spots, and Cam Clark’s mid-range game made OU dangerous offensively.
Ryan Spangler had his moments scoring inside, but his offensive game went away late, especially against teams with a physical presence at center.
That inside offense — from Spangler, D.J. Bennett and a trio of signees — is a major point of emphasis going into this offseason.
“We got pretty one-dimensional late,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said Monday. “The results were still OK, but we leaned on the three more late. We stopped attacking. We stopped getting the ball into the paint as much.
“Not that we got it there a lot, but that’s what we did earlier. We’ve got to get it in there more. We’ve got to be more balanced inside-outside. We’ve got to be more physical.”
Bennett, who was primarily a shot-blocker coming on in relief of Spangler, improved at the end of the season but was never a consistent offensive threat. He’ll be the team’s only senior next year.
“It’s a huge offseason for D.J.,” Kruger said. “We need D.J. to jump in there and play a lot more minutes. I thought in stretches he had really good minutes this year. But he’s got to invest this offseason in a way that he’s prepared to have consistent really good minutes, and a lot more of them. He’ll do that. He’s got the capability to do that.”
Khadeem Lattin and Jamuni McNeace, the Sooners’ two 6-foot-9 signees, figure to be other options for scoring down low. Both are likely to need to bulk up before getting very physical against the top centers in the Big 12.
“They’ve got the potential to do that,” Kruger said. “How quickly that happens, I don’t know. Everyone progresses at a different rate. But they’ve got the length, the energy, the athletic ability. But both are really lean and not rugged in nature.”
Lattin and McNeace, along with 6-7 power forward Dante Buford, are expected to be in Norman this summer.
The Sooners are just getting over a disappointing 80-75 overtime loss to North Dakota State in their NCAA Tournament opener.
Buddy Hield, who struggled in that loss, has been among the group already in the gym working out.
“It’s amazing,” Kruger said. “We haven’t started individual workouts and so many have been in here every day since we lost, which is not a surprise.”
Kruger pointed to Hield and Isaiah Cousins as the two Sooners who improved the most this season, but Hield’s game still needs refining.
“Buddy became a good standstill shooter. The year before, he was much more of a slasher, much more aggressive to the offensive boards,” Kruger said. “We need to combine the two Buddy has to be more physical, more attack with his ballhandling.
“He’ll work a lot on that, working through contact, finishing through contact, getting to the free-throw line a lot more.”