OU senior Tyler Neal spent two seasons on Sooner teams that finished with losing records. Now he’s been a part of two straight NCAA Tournament teams. The forward from Putnam City West High School is averaging 6.5 and 3.4 rebounds per game.
What do you think of North Dakota State?
Neal: “Right after we found out yesterday, I went home and looked ’em up on ESPN, saw they led the country in field-goal percentage as a team. You know what that means. They’re good at being patient for the shot that they want, they’re pretty good at not letting teams rush ’em into things. On defense, can’t get bored with that. They’re going to wait for a good shot. We’ve got to stay low, stay ready, be ready to guard ’em.”
Do the Bison compare to anyone you’ve played?
Neal: “They’ve got a good big guy down in there (Marshall Bjorklund), they like to throw it to him. He’s a good passer. He’s a little bit like (Iowa State’s Georges) Niang, doesn’t like to shoot it a whole lot, but likes to get in there and spin and either finish or make plays from that. And they’ve got a good wing player in (Taylor) Braun. They’ve got not super big guys, but pretty good size across the board in all positions, compared to Big 12 teams.”
Can you quickly wipe out the memory of that Big 12 Tournament loss to Baylor?
Neal: “Obviously, we caught them, they’re playing really well, they’re really hot going into the NCAA Tournament. I don’t think that’s a big surprise. They’re a talented team, it was just a matter of when they pulled it all together. Looks like they’re doing that. ... Just have to learn from that. The main thing we took from that, we need to be more tough and we’re going to work on that this week and get ready for Thursday.”
How much did the Big 12 prepare you for NCAA Tournament play?
Neal: “There’s a wide variety of teams in the Big 12. You’ve got your big teams, you got KU and Texas. You got other teams that can spread you out, like Iowa State. We were tested well and we’ll be ready for North Dakota State and any team beyond that, hoping we get through them.”
Will the 2013 NCAA Tournament experience help this team?
Neal: “Just as far as the travel and the media and everything that comes with it, you kind of know what to expect. We’ll have a shootaround, just like we did in Kansas City. Then it’s just another game. Like I said, we gotta use these three days, two here, one day in Spokane, to get better in practice.”