The Oklahoma Sooners claimed the No. 9 seed in the South Regional of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday largely due to scheduling. Completing the non-conference portion of the programming sporting an 11-1 record, hopes ran high. Now, another opportunity to step out of conference play presents itself. Can Lon Kruger find the same level of success here at the end of the season? It may be dependent upon these three factors.
Creating Free Throw Attempts & Converting
Although this specific team lacks the three point shooters of the past, there are ways to make up for the difference on the scoreboard. Enter free throw shooting into equation. Over the course of thirty-two games, the Oklahoma Sooners toed the line a total of 586 times. The number of trips to the charity stripe ranks 202nd in the country. Combine the lack of consistent trips to the line with the 69.1% conversion rate and this statistic becomes a glaring issue. If OU can up the percentage to at least 80% moving forward, the chances of winning a close bout skyrocket.
Playing Through Kristian Doolittle
Possessing an experienced backcourt, an unusual shift occurred across the board as three point shooting dipped around the country. Instead, athletic forwards took center stage as the ball moved through the front court. The Sooners may have been late to the party as Kristian Doolittle averaged 16.5 points per game during the final ten contests. The number proved to be an uptick from 11.2 season average. Needless to say, Doolittle clearly has the hothand as far as this program is concerned. In order to be successful in the NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma must get Doolittle involved early and often.
Avoid Foul Trouble
It’s no secret that this team is not exceptionally deep especially with the health of Jamuni McNeace still in question. Utilizing a rotation of approximately eight players, each must avoid any sort of foul trouble. Unfortunately, the level of talent drops off quite significantly. If Kruger is forced to dip further into the bench than he’d like, it could spell trouble for this experience squad.