Three Sooners Must Step Up in 2010-11

After the departure of nearly 60 percent of its 2009-10 roster on the hardwood, which leaves OU with only one player that participated in every game, the Sooners hoops squad is left with little veteran leadership but a bigger need for it than ever.

Granted the Sooners only have six returning players and it seems obvious who needs to step up, there are three players that will need to perform at their highest level more than anyone else to give OU a chance to succeed.

1. Senior guard Cade DavisThis is a disturbing statistic, but Davis is the only Sooner returning player that saw action in every contest. He played in all 31 games, starting 27 of those, and he averaged 9.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. He stands to be the only senior on the team, and so these are reasons why Davis is not only expected to but must step up next year.

2. Sophomore forward Andrew FitzgeraldFitzgerald is the only other player on the roster that started a somewhat sizable amount of games last season. He played in 26 games, starting 11 of those, and produced 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Fitzgerald has a solid mid-range jumper, and at 6-foot-8, 258 lb., he needs to utilize his size to give the Sooners a reliable big man to help Davis with the inside-out game.

3. Sophomore guard Steven PledgerPledger will need to be much better from the outside to provide OU with a second perimeter threat to go alongside Davis. He shot 33.8 percent from beyond the arc last year, going 44-for-130, en route to averaging 6.2 points per game. His 33.8 percent from deep was 1.2 percentage points below the team average of 35 percent. So, that certainly needs to improve. Next to Davis, he participated in the second most games at 30, starting three of those.

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