The award winning series (or at least I think it is at least a good idea) is back for hoops season as we interview other SB Nation sites in a short five question Q&A. This first one is Oklahoma's Crimson and Cream Machine talking about Saturday's matchup with Utah.
1.What has been the reason for Oklahoma being so streaky of late as they are 3-3 in their last six games?
I think that the slow start can be attributed mostly to so many new guys taking the floor and not yet fully understanding the system or their roles on the team.
This team has three former McDonald's High School All-Americans in the starting five and I think that initially posed a problem. These guys were used to carrying the load for their teams and now they have to share it. Even as a sophomore Willie Warren has had to adjust to this because last year he was the compliment to Blake Griffin and now this year has to learn to allow Tommy Mason-Griffin and Tiny Gallon to be a compliment to him.
I think that in the last four games we've seen them get their legs underneath them, so to speak, and while the competition hasn't been great (Nicholl's St., Arkansas, Arizona, Centenary) is hasn't been all that bad either. This road trip to Utah will be a good gauge of their progress.
2. . Who are the key players that Utah must account for offensively?
Before Wednesday night's game I would have just said Willie Warren and Tiny Gallon but seeing how Tony Crocker dropped off 29 points in the first half I think that the Utes will need to be aware of where he is on the floor as well. Freshman Steven Pledger will come off the bench and is a pretty good shooter from just about anywhere on the floor.
3. What is with Willie Warren? He has NBA talent but had a DNP coaches decision against Nichols State, he is considered selfish, and needs a lot of shots to get his points.
Willie has struggled in taking the leadership role that the team needs from him. Last year the team belonged to the Griffin brothers and while he was a key component he wasn't the guy everyone looked to. Now he is and as I stated before he's had to learn to allow others to compliment him instead of trying to carry the team on his own. Like most pure scorers he does take a lot of shots and when he's on he's one of the best in the nation but its when he's off that he has to trust those around him to do what he can't.
The DNP was because of illness.
4. What are the teams expectations this year after losing Blake Griffin to the NBA?
I think that its a realistic expectation to see them finish around 4th in the conference. From there we'll see what they can accomplish in the dance.
5. Who wins and what will be the difference?
I think that this is a must win game for Oklahoma. They are on a four game winning streak and things are starting to come together for them. As previously stated this will be a measure of progress because the Sooners have been really bad on the road so far. I say that their athleticism and triple threat scoring options allows to keep the streak going.