Sampson pleased with progress despite setbacks

OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson talks about his Sooners struggles this season.

Below is a transcript from James Hale's interview with Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson Friday afternoon on WKY radio.

On Oklahoma's confidence level after losing to Oklahoma State "Going in to the Oklahoma State game we'd one six out of seven, so the confidence thing isn't going to be a factor with this bunch. We've just got to make shots. I watched some of the Maryland-Georgia Tech game last night (Thursday). I thought Maryland was doing pretty good in that game, and then they went on a long, long drought where they had good looks, but they just couldn't make shots. When you're playing a good team and go in a drought — that's a recipe for disaster. There are a lot of similarities between Oklahoma and Maryland this year in that we're both playing a lot of young kids and having lost a lot of seniors.

"Every day you go to practice you just try to look for something that you can do to help them get over the hump. We've got three good road wins and we played well against Texas Tech at home and Iowa State at home. We've struggled against the better teams, and I don't know that that's a huge surprise. We're a young team.

On his younger players struggling struggling to make shots
"They've hit a lot of buckets this year, they just haven't done it against a really good defensive team. That has something to do with it. There's a reason we're 16-6 and not 6-16. (Drew) Lavender had 31 not too long ago. (Lawrence) McKenzie's had some good games. They've all had good games. If you expect freshmen to be great every single night, then come sit down in the office a little bit and I'll educate you."

On players doing things other than scoring to help the team win
"Those are areas that I think we've got to get better in. The thing that we have to do better is get easier baskets. That's something that we've worked on the last few days, but it's hard to be a really good transition team unless you're a better defensive rebounding team. The thing that a good team will do is be pretty good in every area. If you've looked at us the last few years we've been really solid in every area. And there's nights that we're pretty good, but inconsistency is not something that's a huge surprise to me. We need to get better play out of our seniors too, especially Jason Detrick. He's got to play better, and I know he can play better. He's certainly had some good moments this year, but when we need him the most is against the really good teams."

On the improved play of De'Angelo Alexander
"For what he's been through with all those injuries he's had it's kind of been Murphy's Law with that kid. He deserves a special award when the season is over for just getting through this thing. From his shoulder and now it's his ankle, De'Angelo's battled and really played hard. I've been really proud of him."

On De'Angelo trying to take a leadership role with the younger players like Larry Turner, Drew Lavender and Lawrence McKenzie
And every kid you mentioned there are freshmen and sophomores. Tells you a little bit about our team. You ever heard of basketball economics? Basketball economics is what goes up sometimes comes down. The last three or four years we've been battling for a one or two seed. Well, sometimes you have to go back and start over again. I'm not disappointed with this team. Actually, I'm excited about what this team's accomplished. For this team to have lost their best inside scorer and have all these freshmen and the injuries we've had, we've got a chance to go to the NCAA tournament. You don't think that's not exciting for kids that have never been before? It depends on how you look at it. I coach these kids and have been with them every day. I think they've had a heck of a year."

On Jabahri Brown developing perimeter game
"We've been working on him with his perimeter game getting him to catch the ball facing the basket rather than with his back to the basket, because that's not his game. Kevin Bookout is a great low post scorer. Larry Turner is developing into that. Johnnie's (Gilbert) not much of a scorer, but he's good in other areas. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Jabahri's strength is his quickness and ability to make jump shots and he's got better at that as we've gone along."

On Jabahri's improvement over the last year
"And these freshmen are going to do the same things. Lavender, McKenzie, Foust, Larry Turner, and you have to add Kevin and De'Angelo in there too — we've got a lot of really good, young kids. When we play these veteran teams that are junior- and senior-dominated we struggle. But that's evolution. That's they way it's probably going to be, but they're not going to be freshmen forever."

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