NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — There's little question that guard play is going to determine how far Oklahoma goes this season.
After losing most of their size from last year's NCAA tournament team, the Sooners return a trio of sophomore guards who will be expected to carry the load — especially on offense.
Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield and Je'lon Hornbeak all saw significant playing time last season, earning a combined 40 starts between them.
"They've all grown significantly," Sooners coach Lon Kruger said Monday at the team's annual media day. "That period between freshman year and sophomore year oftentimes is one of big change. Coming out of high school, you're not real sure what to expect and after going through Big 12 basketball for a year, you can focus differently on preparation for the second year--how fast the game is and how big and strong the opponents are and I think you work a little harder. All three have done a nice job."
The roles of each, though, will shift this season as the Sooners look to play faster. Hornbeak split time at both guard spots last season but will be expected to handle the point guard spot primarily.
"Last year, I really struggled at being a true point guard," Hornbeak said. "Now I feel like I've developed in that sense--just letting everything come naturally, taking what defenses give me."
With freshman Jordan Woodard in the guard rotation behind Hornbeak, Cousins will be freed up to play the wing.
"I just feel more free on the wing because you can just play hard," Cousins said. "At point, you have to control everything on the team. My role is to play-make and score off the ball and try to do a little bit of everything."