NORMAN — Against Oklahoma State, Willie Warren was briefly benched by coach Jeff Capel after a string of three quick turnovers. The streak gave Warren six for the game, and the Sooners trailed their rival midway through the second half of the Big 12 men’s basketball game.
The home crowd’s response to its team’s leading scorer’s exit: A noticeable cheer.
Capel noticed but didn’t bring it to the attention of his star player, Warren, who said his own frustration made him oblivious to the unusual crowd reaction.
Warren, known for his animated conduct on the floor, doesn’t get the type of fan response before every game expected for a reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
"As the season’s progressed, I don’t see much difference in the crowd noise between his pregame introduction and the rest of the team’s,” said Tyler Finch, co-president of the Capelables, a student organization for OU basketball fans.
Warren’s behavior often spurs the crowd after a big play, but Capel has chided his star for poor body language when things go badly for the Sooners.
Fans have noticed, too. Some are annoyed when his chest-pounding celebrations come after stretches of less-than-stellar play.
Said fellow Capelable member Alyssa Loveless: "At games, fans around us get more mad at him than the other players, but I think it’s because he’s the best player.”
Capel blames the Sooners’ underwhelming 11-8 record, already two more losses than the team suffered all of last season.
"Maybe our crowd feels some frustration, just like everyone in that locker room feels some frustration — a lot of frustration — with what’s going on with our team,” Capel said.
Warren’s 3-of-16 (19 percent) 3-point shooting in conference play (28.8 percent on the season) hasn’t helped, even if his field goal percentage is more than 40 percent.