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Enough Gloom & Doom
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History says Sooners will rebound from 0-2 league start
The gloom and doomers are out in full force where Oklahoma menâ€™s basketball is concerned. According to them, the situation has become so bad thereâ€™s talk the Sooners might even fail to qualify for the NCAA Tournament this season.
Opening the conference schedule with two straight losses is bound to put a damper on fan enthusiasm, to some degree â€” but the knee-jerk reaction of a few has seemingly caused a chain reaction that has affected a lot more folks than the easily-swayed casual onlookers.
Since the Sooners dropped a 71-69 heartbreaker at home to Missouri Tuesday evening, it seems as if a large percentage of OU fans have lost faith in Kelvin Sampsonâ€™s latest crew. Seems they have forgotten about last February when OU dropped three straight conference games and seemingly fell out of the Big 12 title chase.
Such short memories, oh ye of little faith. Shame on you.
If history has taught OU fans anything about Kelvin Sampson teams, it should have ingrained in their collective memory just how resilient the Sooners have been over the last decade.
Last season was the perfect example. OU drops three straight and four of five to fall to 6-4 in the conference. Out came the gloom and doomers crying foul and wondering how Sampson could have led his squad down the crapper in such a brief period.
One day, title contenders. The next, all washed up.
There were cries â€” as there always are from the idiot brigade â€” for Sampsonâ€™s resignation. All was lost. The basketball world was spinning out of control.
But before Joe Castiglione could give Sampson his pink slip, something happened. The Sooners somehow managed to reel off seven straight conference wins â€” along the way beating Kansas and winning at both Texas and Texas Tech.
Suddenly, OU was on top looking down. The Soonersâ€™ first regular-season conference title since 1988-89 came with a 12-4 league mark and a 23-6 overall record. Not too shabby for a team many so-called OU fans had written off in early February.
Other than the 2003-04 season when injuries and inexperience kept the Sooners from making the NCAA Tournament, Sampsonâ€™s teams have always â€” yes, always â€” bounced back.
During the 2000-01 season, OU opened league play by losing three of its first four. Responded by winning seven straight and 14 of their 17 games en route to the Big 12 Tournament title.
This yearâ€™s team has too much talent not to make a similar run. Will it win the conference title? Who knows? But you can bet the Sooners will be somewhere near the top of the league standings when March rolls around.
For whatever reason, this squad has yet to find itself. It hasnâ€™t fully grasped Sampsonâ€™s style of intense defense, all-out hustle and do whatever it takes to win attitude.
One guarantee: It will, and sooner than later.
This team lost two conference games by a total of three points. The Sooners should have and could have won both. They didnâ€™t, and as a result, theyâ€™ve got a fairly steep climb to get to where they want to be.
But Sampson will figure it out. He always does. The turnaround begins Saturday against a pretty good Texas A&M team in College Station.
It would help matters if guard Michael Neal with healthy â€” the Sooners need all of the offensive help they can get. But even without Neal, Sampson will find a way to get his team to answer the challenge this weekend.
Terrell Everett needs to step up and play better. Kevin Bookout needs to stop becoming invisible on offense. The entire team needs to play better overall defense. And a few more people need to stick the ball in the hole on a more consistent basis.
All of those things are going to happen with this team. Maybe not all of them on Saturday, but Sampsonâ€™s teams have always been known for how well they progress and grow as the seasons progresses.
That is not going to change this season.
When the Sooners travel to Lawrence, Kan., on Feb. 5 to play the Jayhawks, they will be 5-2 in conference and riding a wave of confidence. The league title will still be within reach and gloom and doomers will be sulking in the shadows again.