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NCAA Basketball Tournament: Je'lon Hornbeak 'hurt' by President Obama's pick

Oklahoma players are well aware of North Dakota State’s role as a popular upset pick in Thursday’s games.
by Berry Tramel and Ryan Aber Published: March 19, 2014

Oklahoma players are well aware of North Dakota State’s role as a popular upset pick in Thursday’s games (6:27 p.m., truTV).

“There’s a lot of people picking against us,” sophomore point guard Je’lon Hornbeak said. “The president didn’t even pick us. I was a little hurt between him and Phil Jackson going to the Knicks, that was just like a double whammy for me. It’s OK, though. People didn’t pick us last year, they didn’t pick us to win a lot of these games this year.

“It’s nothing new to us.”

Barack Obama has annually picked his bracket with ESPN’s Andy Katz. The president picked Michigan State to knock off Louisville in the championship game.


North Dakota State leads the nation in field-goal percentage, .509, and the Bison got to that status by taking good shots. And that means not getting in a hurry.

“They run the shot clock down, then get shots they want,” said OU center Ryan Spangler. “They run the offense well, so they get open shots. They’re getting close to the rim. They’re getting good shots and easy shots.”

The Sooners’ defensive gameplan?

“Just try to deny a little bit,” Spangler said. “Get up into ’em, make ’em dribble. The biggest thing is, when they get inside 10 seconds on the shot clock, we can’t just give up. That’s when we gotta buckle down and not let ’em get easy shots.”


OU’s open-practice policy has intrigued the media assembled in Spokane. Both Lon Kruger and his players were asked about Kruger inviting fans and media to every Sooner practice in Norman.

Cam Clark said he likes it because it shows outsiders how hard the Sooners work. Spangler said it allows the players to show the fans how much they’re appreciated.

“We take pictures with them, just talk to them, let them shoot with us,” Spangler said. “So yeah, I think it just shows how much they appreciate us and how much we appreciate them.”

Kruger has had open practices for 30 years.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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