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Oklahoma basketball: Ryan Spangler's hard-earned toughness sets tone for Sooners

That toughness was born growing up the son of a high school football coach who now works the oil fields. It was strengthened being the youngest of three boys — Spangler's older brothers both played college football.
by Ryan Aber Published: February 21, 2014

Douglass, led by Stevie Clark, won that game but Spangler did everything he could, scoring 28 and pulling down 18 rebounds.

“They started off man-on-man with Ryan and then they put two on him and by the fourth quarter they had three guys on him,” said Ryan Spangler's father Larry. “That's when I saw that he was pretty tough.”

At Gonzaga, it developed thanks to daily battles in practice with 7-footers Robert Sacre and, to a lesser degree, Kelly Olynyk.

“If they were going to get into the lane, I'd hit them or I was going to get dunked on all the time,” Spangler said. “It's hard to move a 280-pound man (Sacre) that's as strong as him.”

Then when Spangler arrived in Norman, sitting out a year, the toughness kept right on building.

He spent much of last season guarding Romero Osby in practice.

“Guarding Ro, you've got to be fast guarding him but you've got to be tough too,” Spangler said. “Last year was a big steppingstone for me becoming tough and not letting anybody push me around.”

In several games during Big 12 play — the game at Kansas State, the home win over Iowa State and both Bedlam wins especially — Spangler has had stretches of dominance on both ends.

“Every time he goes on little spurts when he keeps getting boards and stuff, it's like an energy boost for the team,” D.J. Bennett said. “We feed off his hard work.”

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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