Originally Published: Dec 16, 2010 4:27 PM CDT
-I’ve sensed great chemistry from the 2010 Sooners, a quality that is perhaps the most overlooked component in the success of team sports. An extrovert star linebacker in Travis Lewis and a less demonstrative star DE Jeremy Beal have been invaluable with their play and equally effective with their much-needed leadership skills. And a third star in AA S Quinton Carter is another who leads more by example. Combine the level of play and leadership from that trio, with significant improvement in play at MLB where a healed-up Austin Box supplanted freshman Tom Wort, innovative scheming from Brent Venables and his staffincluding the head coach, and you get a defense that did its part in OU’s strong finish. You don’t win 4-of-5 Big 12 titles without stout defense.
Below average defense for much of the regular season led to skepticism about the upside of Bob Stoops’12th team. But it was there play down the stretch that keyed OU’s run to another Fiesta Bowl.
-I see where UConn is expecting to take a bath by earning its way into the BCS Fiesta Bowl. Even OU is reportedly expecting to fall far below its allotment of selling 17,500 tickets. The Huskies have only sold some 4,000. Sure, the PR and recruiting benefits of playing in a BCS bowl are great for the Huskies. But after splitting money with the Big East Conference, the perceived big payday will turn into a financial nightmare. And it won’t make things any better if they lose by the seventeen points the experts predict. Happy New Year Huskie$! Of course pulling a Boise or West Virginia on the Sooners would more than make up for any monetary considerations. And your guess is as good as mine as to how much a loss to UConn would bankrupt the reputation of the Sooners.
-A good friend who knows a thing or two about OU football told me something that reminded me that it’s all but impossible to meet expectation of some ardent fans. She said (yes, I said sheI know a lot of females who know more football than the majority of boys and men), “OU has a quarterback problemI really liked Heupel and of course Bradford, but Jason White and Landry Jones never did much for me.” Of course I responded with a myriad of facts that frankly made that statement look asinine.
But the point is that the expectations of a lot of people are unreasonably high. These guys are legendary. The remarkable level of play OU’s seen at the QB position along with the leadership of Stoops are the two most important and two constant themes that have led to his significant success since the BS era began in ’99.
The best three things Bob Stoops did when he took over were instill a “no excuses” mentality; hire Mike Leach to install his high-octane spread offense; and make signing quality QBs priority number one. Mission emphatically accomplished as Stoops has had six different QBs lead Sooner teams to seven conference titlesnot to mention two Heisman winners and two second-place finishes.
-The Thunder has hit its stride. It squashed the improving Rockets Wednesday and is in the midst of a home stretch that should wind up with them into a strong position in the West come the first part of 2011. The underestimated but consistently successful Head Coach Scott Brooks has the invaluable ability to get young millionaires to listen and react to his teaching.
The reigning coach-of-the-year did what I questioned he could do and turned on the intensity switch of this youthful club after a stagnant start on the defensive end. They sit at 18-8, are on a 4-game win streak and are tied for the lead with Utah in the Northwest Division. They are hitting a ridiculous 86 percent of their free throws. If you think about it, that a higher percentage than that of many of the best pure shooters in NBA history.
-I’ve got an hour off. Good time for a couple of Office re-runs. Cat-in-the-lap, dog-at-your-side, and lol moments are hard to beat on a cold day in the plains.
Ive also just joined Twitter, and you can follow me @deanblevins.