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.
BISON ARE PATIENT
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.