With four minutes to go, Oklahoma Sooners assistant coach Chris Crutchfield took his notepad and headed for the exit. He’d seen enough, leaving fellow assistant Steve Henson alone in the stands.
He wasn’t leaving before the end of the Texas A&M-Northern Iowa second round NCAA Tournament game because he thought the final was guaranteed. Crutchfield had seen enough to know what to watch for on video. He – and the rest of the Oklahoma coach staff and players – had the rare opportunity to truly live scout a future opponent.
The Oklahoma players stayed through the first half, sizing up the Panthers and the Aggies and getting a live feel of their speed and size. Khadeem Lattin pointed out Monday how big Aggies’ center Tyler Davis was.
“It’s big,” Crutchfield said of live scouting an opponent. “It’s really, really big, especially for the players. They size guys up and start seeing how they match up with certain guys and know what their positions are. It’s big. From a psychological standpoint, it’s huge.”
Crutchfield listened to the end of the game on the radio, including the final seconds of regulation. When he got home, he ate dinner and started watching more film on Texas A&M.
Seeing a team live doesn’t provide much from a strategic standpoint.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said that tape is still better for figuring out the Xs and Os of an opponent’s offense and defense. It does allow the coaching staff to learn its opponent’s calls and see hand gestures better, something that can help align a defense quicker.
“If you just haven’t seen somebody in person, you just get a better idea on the size and quickness of guys,” Henson said. “You can almost get all the same stuff off of film. It just gives you a little bit different perspective.”