NORMAN — D.J. Bennett's stat line in Oklahoma's basketball season opener against Alabama was far from overwhelming.
Two points. Three rebounds. Nine minutes.
But the 6-foot-8 junior forward will be a key piece for the Sooners.
Bennett is OU's premier shot-blocker and, with Ryan Spangler, one of the only inside presences on both ends of the floor.
Bennett continues to work back from a partially torn tendon in his foot, which he suffered about a month ago.
He was expected to miss the Sooners' two exhibitions but came back in time to play limited minutes in both.
Monday, he'll make his home debut as Oklahoma hosts North Texas at 7 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center.
Bennett still isn't quite at 100 percent though.
“I'd say a couple more games, a couple more practices and I'll be back,” Bennett said. “I'm thinking mainly when I get my wind back.
“Just the fact I wasn't playing for so long, getting that muscle memory back is the biggest thing. I feel pretty good when we're in the practices stamina-wise, but I've got to get my body back right.”
Bennett's offensive development was one of the surprises of the Sooners' August trip to Europe. He averaged 11 points in five games while overseas.
“He's always going to have room to polish that up,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said of Bennett's offensive game. “But in Europe, he did much more than we expected. He scored mostly around the bucket, but he'll shoot the 14-15 footers, too. He kind of surprised a little bit in that way.”
Bennett realizes that his primary role is on the defensive end.
“That's what I was really recruited to do,” Bennett said. “Most of my scoring is going to come off offensive boards, rebounding, loose balls, lobs and alley-oops.”
It's been a bit of a chore for Bennett to keep from being frustrated as he works himself back into shape after the mid-October setback.
But his European success also had him working harder, saying it was a confidence booster.
“I see what I can be so I keep working to get back to that level,” Bennett said.