After a week off where they worked on their offensive game and tried to get healthy, 25th-ranked Oklahoma will host the Texas Tech Red Raiders at noon on Saturday at the Lloyd Noble Center. And the Sooners hope the fact that Austin Johnson and Michael Neal have been able to practice all week will mean better guard play and more offensive production against the Red Raiders.
But while the offense has struggled for the most part, senior forward Kevin Bookout has been quietly putting together his best year as a Sooner. Finally healthy for the first time since his freshman year, Bookout is averaging 12 points and seven rebounds per game so far this season. And the senior captain sat down with OUInsider.com earlier this week to talk about the Sooners' season.
JH: Kevin, you have been a part of some teams since you have been at OU that were very good on offense, but thus far this team has struggled on offense. What is the main reason why?
KB: "We just have to start doing all the little things better. That means setting screens and executing our offense better, and knowing what offense we are in. Sometimes we get congested out there and we are not for sure what we are in and that kind of throws us off.
"We seem to lack confidence right now. Our guys just need to have enough confidence to step up and hit the shot. We all know we have nice looking shots, but we have just got to make them. That is plain and simple. As long as we shoot the ball we feel we are going to make it, so we need to just step up and continue to shoot the dang thing."
JH: You said the offense gets congested. Does that all come down to spacing or something else?
KB: "Yeah, pretty much just spacing because if you are real close to each other it is much easier to come and double us, which sometimes forces us to turn the ball over. If you have good enough spacing then you have a better chance to create a shot. Spacing is a big-time key in college basketball."
JH: You have played with some good point guards here, but right now this team has struggled at the point. Austin (Johnson) hasn't been able to practice and Terrell (Everett) has shuffled between the point and the two. How difficult has it been to adjust to whoever is playing at the guard spots, especially when they are the players trying to get the ball to you?
KB: "It hasn't been that tough for me. It has been tougher for Terrell and Austin as far as calling the offense, knowing what defense we are in and knowing all the little things that point guards have to do to help us out. It hasn't been a big adjustment for me or Taj as it has been for Terrell and Austin."
JH: Is this a situation where you just need one game for the team to go off offensively and then take off as a team from that point on?
KB: "Yes, we do. We need one good breakout game where we go out there and score 80, 85 or 90 points. Every one would get their confidence real high, especially since this is our one week we had completely off, and from now on we have two games a week to get into a groove. I think if we have that breakout game it is going to carry over, over and over."
JH: You are having your best season since your freshman year, wouldn't you agree?
KB: "Yes, this has been my best season by far. I have been consistent out there scoring, my rebounding and doing a lot of the little things. I think by far this is my best season, and I think I am really contributing to our wins this year."
JH: Are you getting more shots this season?
KB: "I feel like I am a little more clever this year and I have learned a lot more ways to get open to take a shot. I know a lot more stuff or ways to get extra shots up, and when I shoot it I never feel like I am going to miss it."
JH: How come big men are not shooting the turnaround jumper anymore?
KB: "I don't think guys are as comfortable with it as they used to be. Now players like to face up or they like to shoot the jump hook. The turnaround jump shot is a heck of a shot, because if you can get it down then you can shoot it from anywhere. If you can get it down you don't even have to worry about where you are at you just have to turn around and shot over the defender."
JH: Is it a hard shot to master?
KB: "I think it is. It is kind of weird because you are kind of falling away, you are worrying about where the defense is. It is a weird shot. If you can get it down, and if you start shooting it early and you get it down, then it is a good shot to do."
JH: When are you going to shoot your turnaround jumper?
KB: "I am going to shoot it here in the next game or two. That is for sure. I got you James, I am going to shoot one."
JH: Just make sure you make it?
KB: "You can count on it, I will."
JH: What about Texas Tech? Aren't they a unique defensive team because they switch so much on defense?
KB: "They do switch screens and then they run that motion offense, so you really have to be alert where they are at. I know every time I have played them they have double-teamed the post real tough. They are always in great position because Coach (Bobby) Knight is a great coach."
JH: So, like most teams, they will double-team the post?
KB: "Yes, they do. They always go big to big and they are very good at it. I always enjoy playing them."
Bookout playing well despite OU's struggles
Sooners Illustrated Top Stories
The PrimeSport & OU connectionOU seems headed to the Sugar Bowl. You can go there, too, with help from Sooners Illustrated and PrimeSport.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 4:32 PM
Bedlam Bash: OU earns No. 10One for the other thumb as OU claims 10th Big 12 championship with 38-20 win vs. Oklahoma State.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 4:10 PM
OU's Baker Mayfield to return for 2017 seasonOU quarterback Baker Mayfield announced he's returning for the 2017 season.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 2:49 PM
Sooner Intel: OU news and nuggetsIntel returns with a look at the top visitors headed to OU this weekend.
Sooners IllustratedFriday at 6:42 AM