When Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger sent out a starting lineup that included just two of five returning starters this season — and despite returning 100 percent of his starting lineup from last year — people were shocked.
OU's veteran depth is what has saved the team in times of confused youth, but youth is what has helped spurn talk about Selection Sunday, Big 12 championship runs and dancing in March.
During Oklahoma's game Saturday against Oklahoma State, there was a point when freshman Isaiah Cousins looked at senior Romero Osby.
“What play are we running?” asked Cousins, Oklahoma's starting point guard.
Osby gave him a stern look, inbounded the ball to Cousins and whispered something to him as he ran past. A few plays later, while Cousins still looked lost and unaggressive — Kruger made the switch to veteran point guard Sam Grooms.
Grooms exploded for a career-high 18 points. A veteran stepped up.
“He battled it all day long, and he's a big reason we were in good position there late,” Kruger said. “(Grooms) handled the position there well in the back court.”
Luckily for Kruger, he knew that by benching a handful of former starters, it would light a fire when he gave them minutes. That's what Sooners fans have seen from former starters such as Andrew Fitzgerald and Cameron Clark.
Clark is known for adding a burst of points. In OU's game last Monday against TCU, Clark came in and quickly scored six straight points.