Sooners will have to rebound to stay out of Big 12 basement

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Modified: January 6, 2011 at 8:30 pm •  Published: January 6, 2011

Last season Oklahoma was picked third in the preseason men's basketball poll. Plagued by character and work ethic issues, the Sooners finished 4-12, only their second losing conference season in the Big 12 era.

This season expectations are much lower as OU gets ready to head into conference play.

Picked 11th by the league's coaches, the Sooners lack size and experience. Senior Cade Davis is OU's only returning starter, while other returnees Andrew Fitzgerald and Steven Pledger were reserves.

“With those three guys who have a reference point, they can be an example every day in practice of what not to do,” said coach Jeff Capel. “That's certainly something those guys should have learned last year.”

Playing in one of the top conferences in the country, rebounding will be the key whether the Sooners can be competitive, especially after Capel switched to a four-guard lineup a month ago.

“Our post guys have to do a better job of rebounding. It's just plain and simple,” Capel said. “Our two best defensive rebounders for the year have been (guards) Cade Davis and Cameron Clark. Guys like Fitzgerald and C.J. Washington and Nick Thompson have to rebound better for us.

“This lineup has given us the best opportunity to win, although C.J. Washington has really done some good things here as of late. And we need to get Nick Thompson back playing the way he was earlier in the year.”

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