Originally Published: Nov 12, 2009 11:15 PM CDT
I’ve hosted Bob Stoops TV programs twice a week for eleven years. Countless people ask me at times like this, when an OU team expected to contend for a national title is sitting at 5-4 and staring at three games down the stretch that are anything but gimmees.
Staring at a decimated offensive line, short on talent and shorter on healthy bodies. Staring at alleged fans who are calling for heads on platters.
The answer is that today, the head coach showed up with the same pleasant disposition as he had a week ago, the week before that, and the week before that. The same disposition shown one year ago, when his point-a-minute juggernaut was rolling through the end of an exciting 2008. Steady as she blows.
That’s the kind of leadership any program needs at times like this. I am reminded of a time when Bob’s brother Mark—an assistant with brother Mike at Arizona—told me the one thing he felt that separated brother Bob from all the other coaches he’s known.
Mark said that there are a lot of coaches who know strategy, who can recruit and who can hire a good staff. But that there are very few true leaders.
He said big brother has a rare quality that puts him over the hump. Mark Stoops told me, “Bob has a way of getting people to follow him?to run through the wall for him?to believe him and to believe in him. He’s positive. But he’s tough and players see that example and want to play for a coach like that.”
I see this A/M game on Saturday as a game where that type of personality is needed more than ever. These guys can score points. With OU’s offensive questions that spells concern.
You or I could get a team up to play Texas. But when dreams are shattered, friends are hurt, and friends and the media are saying the sky is falling, someone has to come to the fore. It’d better be the head coach.
I’m not saying these guys will win out. But what I am saying is they have a lot better chance of sticking together and putting themselves in position to win out with Mark’s big brother as head coach.
Hope you are watching our OKC Thunder who continue to play hard and are in every game they play. Last night they beat the Clippers in a game they would have had no chance to win last season. They came from behind with clutch plays and solid defense. I was dying for Clay Bennett and Co. to find some way to keep the Hornets here and leave those woebegone Sonics in Seattle.
I wanted the classy head coach Byron Scott, the megastar point guard Chris Paul, a soon-to-be All-Star in forward David West, a talented supporting cast and a cooperative franchise from owner George Shinn to the public relations people. To heck with the vagabond group of subpar players in Seattle and to heck with the nasty divorce that was inevitable.
Fast forward to today, which started with Shinn firing the coach who won the NBA Coach of the Year two years ago. Add in the bickering between the players ON the court as they are 3-6. This bunch is unraveling faster than you can say “it all started with Peja Stojakovic.”
These guys are toast.
Meantime, we—and yes, I say “we” because I am a proud part of the citizenry of Oklahoma City who has been starved for something like the NBA to come to the fruited plains—are looking at a sunny-side-up future with our Thunder. Three young stars and another brilliant looking draft move by smart-guy GM Sam Presti. Arizona State rookie James Harden can play. Period.
In fact, it says here they’d be better served with putting Harden at the point to allow his under-control style to shine and set up Kevin Durant and Jeff Greene for even more production that they the Thunder is seeing now. Put the athletic Russell Westbrook in the sixth-man role. Perfect for him.
Anyway, this team is headed to the playoffs next year. Durant is headed to the All-Star game, at least by next year. And while the Hornets are looking at empty seats and broken hearts, the Thunder is looking at packed houses and exciting wins.
How excited is this city to have the Thunder? Even a Longhorn is loved! Mick the Mayor, give Seventh Heaven Kevin the keys to the city!