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OU Basketball: Woodard & Lattin To Take On Bigger Roles This Season

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For the last few seasons OU fans never had to wonder what the basketball team would look like.

Related: Q&A With Sophomore Christian James

With program cornerstones like Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler leading the way, the Sooners were a consistent winner on a nightly basis.

But with all three guys now gone and playing professionally, it’s time for Lon Kruger’s team to move forward with a new identity.

“Obviously, from last year’s senior group moving on, there’s a lot of minutes, shots, rebounds, and things statistically available for guys to step in to new roles,” Coach Kruger said. “It will be interesting to see how that evolves, and that’s a neat part of college athletics. You hate to see people move on, but it’s always exciting for those new guys coming in to inherit those minutes that were vacating. So it’s been a fun group to see watch and group every day, and hopefully we’ll improve throughout the year.”

With only two returning starters, senior Jordan Woodard is expected to take on an even bigger role on this OU team. Woodard has started every game his first three seasons on campus (105 combined) and averaged 11.1 points per game last season while playing shooting guard. Seeing Cousins is now gone, Woodard will slide back over to the point guard position as he’ll be the focal point of the team when the Sooners have the ball.

“He’s a smart guy and now, his senior year, the target is going to be squarely on his back,” Kruger said of Woodard. “He’s worked hard in preparation and knows that challenge that lies ahead but he’s looking forward to it. He’s a guy that’s competitive and wants to do well individually, but more importantly, wants the team to do well so it will be fun to watch.”

Woodard will have the ball in his hands a lot on the offensive end of the floor, and it’ll be his job to get some of the young wing players like Christian James, Rashard Odomes and Kameron McGusty involved.

“It’s going to be fun,” Woodard said of being the primary option on offense. “It’s going to be a challenge to have that target on your back but I’m going to try to grind more and do more for the team. Coach [Kruger] wants me to do more and it starts in practice getting that consistency and it will translate to the game.”

The Sooners’ other returning starter is junior big man Khadeem Lattin. While Woodard is known for his scoring ability, Lattin will sure up the other side of the court for OU. Last season Lattin averaged just over two blocks per game, but his head coach thinks Lattin will be a bigger factor on offense this season.

“Khadeem will be much more of a scorer this year,” Coach Kruger said. “He can do that. People who haven't seen him very much might be surprised by what they see out of Khadeem. We need him to get more touches and he’s much more comfortable shooting the basketball.

“Last year he didn't get a lot of those opportunities so he’s worked hard in preparation to step forward offensively and I’m confident he can do that.”

A lot of Lattin’s points in the past have come off put backs or dump off passes, but the Houston native said he’s worked a lot on his post moves over the offseason.

“Personally, I really worked on having a few post moves and a few moves on the right block that I’m really comfortable with, facing up and just being able to get to spots that I’m really comfortable at,” Lattin said. “We’ve worked tirelessly in the offseason doing that.”

While there’s a lot more to this Oklahoma team than Woodard and Lattin, the Sooners desperately need the experience and leadership of both guys to pay off if OU hopes to make a return to the NCAA Tournament. 

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