Sooners set to open exhibition play tonight

Senior guard Michael Neal (pictured) and Oklahoma will open up the exhibition season tonight against Oklahoma Christian. Tip-off is set for 7:08 p.m. See inside for a preview, including quotes from OU assistant coach Mark Cline. (AP Photo)

The Matchup
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma Christian -- 7:08 p.m. (CST) -- Norman, Okla. -- Lloyd Noble Center

Media
Tonight's game will not be televised. However, you can watch the game online via the 'O-Zone' section (subscription required) on SoonerSports.com. The game can be heard on the Sooner Radio network on KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City. To listen the game online, click the 'Listen Online' link below and then click the top picture on the page.

Listen Online

About the Eagles
Oklahoma Christian, an NAIA school located in Edmond Okla., lost two starters, including their leading scorer, from last year's 22-11 team that advanced to the NAIA Sweet 16 for the third time in four years. This year marks the second straight season they will play an exhibition against a Division 1 school. Last year, the Eagles played Oklahoma State in Stillwater and actually led early in the second half before the Cowboys pulled away for an 84-62 win. OC is expected to start four seniors tonight, including three players who started at least 26 games a year ago. Eagles coach Dan Hays is entering his 24th season at Oklahoma Christian where he is 499-256.

Oklahoma Projected Starters:
F -- 32 --Taylor Griffin -- 6-7, 232, So. -- 3.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
C -- 30 --Longar Longar -- 6-11, 228, Jr. -- 2.1 ppg, 1.9 rbg
G -- 15 -- David Godbold -- 6-5, 215, Jr. -- 5.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg
G -- 2 --Michael Neal -- 6-3, 198, Sr. -- 12.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg
G -- 20 -- Austin Johnson -- 6-3, 160, So. -- 3.1 ppg, 2.0, rpg, 1.8 apg

More on the Sooners
Roster | 2005 Stats | Schedule/Results

Oklahoma Christian Projected Starters:
F -- 22 -- Keith Harris -- 6-5, 190, Sr. -- 15.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg
F -- 45 -- Micah Miles -- 6-8, 225, Sr. -- 7.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg
C -- 44 -- John Nottley -- 6-11, 235, Sr. -- 3.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg
G -- 12 -- Jared Mitchell -- 6-3, 205, So. -- 1.9 ppg, 0.8 rpg
G -- 25 -- Charles Baldwin -- 6-2, 175, Sr. -- 13.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg

More on the Eagles
Roster | 2005 Stats | Schedule/Results

OU assistant Mark Cline updates OU's progress:

On them looking forward to finally playing a game to find out information about team

Cline: Yes, we are, because with our guys we have basically gone through 15 practices now and we are still trying to implement some things from the other regime that Coach Sampson just didn't run. It has been kind of like teaching 11 freshmen right now. We are starting to pick things up and practice has started to go a little better the last few days, as far as our offensive execution. We are starting to feel a little bit better going into the game.

On the big men that he coaches

Cline: They are coming along pretty good. Longar Longar is showing a lot of promise and he is starting to finish plays inside the last few days. We are just trying to get him out of making three or four post moves at one time, and to just stick with one and to make a play. The biggest thing that I have talked to him about is that when he is on the block to make his move, what are the two worst things that can happen? One, he can miss the shot and, two, you get it blocked. But besides that,there is nothing else that can happen. It is go ahead and make your move, go strong and let's see what happens. He has started the last few days to finish plays.

Taylor Griffin is becoming a little more aggressive down inside. However, we have him moved out on the perimeter in our four-out a lot. He is starting to make a lot of shot fakes and one dribble pull-up shots, and he is starting to produce some things that way. Nate Carter is doing well out there as well.

Keith Clark is getting up to what the speed of the college game is about. He gets a little better every day. I think, initially, it was not knowing how hard it was that you had to go. Every day he is progressing some with that. Right now when he gets the ball down inside, he is a load to handle.

On their lack of height

Cline: We have to be physical, but we have to be smart with our physical play because we can't afford a lot of foul trouble. A lot for us right now is dealing with technique and stuff inside. How to try to defend everything without picking up silly fouls and doing some things where we can force other post players off the block. And instead of them playing four to five feet from the basket, making them play seven or eight feet from the basket. We need to force them to try to make shots over the top of us.

We are just trying to learn how to do some things, to play smart, just so that we can stay out of foul trouble. I think we can do it as our season goes on and we keep working on it.

On if the starting positions have been determined

Cline: I don't think anything has been totally decided. To be honest with you, I don't know who Jeff is going to start against OC. I really have no idea. I think everything is still wide open as sometimes guys play good in practice and don't play as well in games. You have those kind of guys and we just don't know a lot.

I don't think it matters who starts Tuesday night because I think you will see everybody play. Even the walk-on, Beau Gerber, has done extremely well in practice. One thing he knows how to do is that he knows how to run the stuff. He pays attention and he learns. He executes and a lot of time when he gets into practice things get a little better on the other end.

Right now, I would expect all 12 guys to get some playing time against Oklahoma Christian.

On OU's 1-4 offense and the four position being the key spot in the offense

Cline: It is basically just like any of the other perimeter positions. There is not a whole lot of difference. You are still going to have to catch and play on the perimeter some. It is hard to open up driving lines when you have two guys down on the block. When you are playing three guys around it is just very hard to open up any kind of driving lines for guys to drive it, penetrate and kick and make plays.

So with four out and one in, we will be able to open the floor up. That is not to say that we won't run a few sets and stuff like that, but if we don't get anything off of our sets we will definitely be able to hopefully flow right into our motion. As we go, if we don't get anything off of our sets and we are four around one, we will look to penetrate and attack those type of gaps.


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