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76 Classic: Q&A With SBN's Crimson And Cream Machine

Richard over at SB Nation's Oklahoma blog contacted me to do a Q&A about the upcoming 76 Classic match-up between the Cougars and the Sooners. Below you will find Richard's answers to my questions. I will post a link to my answers when he puts them up over on Crimson and Cream machine.

Last year OU was not a good offensive rebounding team, only grabbing 26.6% of opportunities. This year, through two games, they lead the nation in offensive rebounding (52.3%). Is that part of Lon Kruger's impact on the program, and do you think this is something that the Sooners can maintain? Or do you chalk is up to playing overmatched opponents? WSU is a terrible rebounding team, please say the latter.

Lon Kruger's offense is heavily dependent upon solid rebounding on both sides of the floor. It is no fluke that Oklahoma is leading the nation up to this point partly because of the competition they have played. The other side is that this is a team that has bought into Kruger's scheme and with a second year Strength & Conditioning coach in former walk-on "Yo Yo," the result is what should be expected. This team is capable of getting up and down which is a major part of their success in rebounding. The Bigs are willing to fight for each and every board. However, being undersized in the post, I do expect this number to drop not only in the 76 Classic but also in conference play.

The rest of the questions and answers after the jump.

Do you notice any other differences in style from Jeff Capel to Lon Kruger?

Jeff Capel was a defensive minded coach. That was something that became very clear in his last two seasons as not a single player seemed to want to take the ball inside and drive the lane and settled for a long shot time and time again. At VCU he built a reputation for being able to get a stop. The move to Oklahoma saw the offense run through Blake Griffin which was definitely a luxury and had almost no identity outside of that in terms of style. Kruger is an up-tempo style coach the verges on the Shaka Smart havoc style. He seems to want to establish the inside-out game on offense with sharp cuts and effort while getting pressure on defense. The team has not had enough time in my opinion but that is what Kruger is trying to do.

Kelvin Sampson took WSU to the NCAA Tournament, then spurned them for OU. He had success at OU, then left them for Indiana. Does that mean we are all eskimo brothers in a way?

That would depend on what kind of recruiting scandals the WSU program has been left with.

Oklahoma several juniors who played significant minutes as sophomores. Which of them do you see making the biggest improvement this year?

Steven Pledger will be by far the most improved player. He was counted on as a sophomore but this year the team needs him to touch the ball every time down the floor. He will and has up to this point been able to score in bunches while being a leader. Pledger will also be relied on to pick up the slack of graduate Cade Davis in every aspect. Look for him to have a solid season.

If a tree falls on the Longhorn Network, does it make a sound?

That is a very funny question. The LHN has been the laughing stock in the midwest and in the Big XII. If a tree falls on the LHN the 12 people who have bought into would hear it and ESPN would try to convince you it happened. However, you would never believe it.

Washington State has been burned by some good three-point shooters, and even some not so good three-point shooters this season. Which of your players will have us pulling our hair out after they knocked down their 14th three?

I have already mentioned Steven Pledger. Another guy to watch out for is Calvin Newell. He is a scoring threat and has put in the time to be considered just that. From near quitting after the Capel firing to being one of the leading scorers speaks volumes of this kid. When Romero Osby hits a shot from behind the arc, then you will start pulling your hair out.

Finally, WSU has had a flurry of human interest stories populate the television broadcasts the last few seasons. Klay Thompson's dad played in the NBA, Marcus Capers is here because Taylor Rochestie gave up his scholarship, Faisal Aden is from Somalia, etc. What stories are ESPN going to overuse during this tournament? These could really help us out on the broadcast bingo cards.

The media loves the underdogs. I think they push the unlikely story of a kid landing at a D-I school coming from a country where basketball is far from prevalent in Faisal Aden.

For more on Oklahoma, be sure to head over to Crimson and Cream Machine. I will be back tomorrow with my full preview of Oklahoma.