NORMAN — The Oklahoma men's basketball team will be turning up the tempo this season.
After losing its two primary forwards from last season and with new rules in place aimed at freeing up things offensively, Sooners coach Lon Kruger decided to make some adjustments in his team's offensive philosophy.
The Sooners, who averaged just more than 70 points per game last year, want to play a faster brand of basketball this season.
“I feel that we'll run some teams down, and I don't think they'll be able to keep up with us,” sophomore guard Buddy Hield said.
Oklahoma held its annual media day Monday in advance of Saturday's 2 p.m. exhibition opener at home against Washburn (Kan.).
The rules change will cut down on the number of charges called, as defensive players are no longer allowed to move into the way of an offensive player once he's started his upward motion for a shot or pass.
They also cut down on hand-checking by defenders.
“The new rule is part of the reason for doing it the way we're doing it in terms of attacking off the dribble offensively,” Kruger said.
The Sooners' guards, especially the three sophomores who saw significant playing time last year — Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Je'lon Hornbeak — are excited about the changes in the offense.
“I like that kind of style,” Cousins said. “I think we're going to be a lot more aggressive than last year. You'll probably see more press from us, and we're just going to attack other teams, especially with the new rules.”
One of the biggest adjustments will come from Hornbeak, who will be asked to play much more point this year after alternating guard spots last season.
“The decision-making becomes that much quicker,” Hornbeak said. “Windows are that much quicker. You enjoy it though, because there are going to be times when you make big plays.”
Those plays, though, might not always lead to assists for the point guard.
“You have to calm down and know that sometimes you have to make the hockey play,” Hornbeak said. “You understand that. There are times I make the pass, and that pass will be to the lob and I don't get the assist for that.
“You won't be able to see that in the stats, but my team recognizes it, my coach recognizes it and that's all the really matters.”
Kruger said there will be an adjustment period, that could last until Big 12 play begins, as players get comfortable with the rules changes.
The up-tempo style, though, will be a fit right away, especially after gaining game experience during an August trip to Europe.
Even the Sooners' big men — D.J. Bennett and Ryan Spangler especially — are looking forward to moving at a more rapid pace on the offensive end.
“That's one of our biggest strengths in the group. With me and Spang(ler) being more of athletic-type bigs, I would say we're going to use that a lot as far as getting the ball doing,” Bennett said. “We're going to be a more athletic team and we'll be more fun to watch.”