View Lon Kruger press conference and indvidual player video clips from team's local media day.
Oct. 29, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- Just four days before its season-opening exhibition game, head coach Lon Kruger and 11 members of the Oklahoma men's basketball team met reporters at Lloyd Noble Center for the program's annual local media day.
Mentioned frequently by Kruger and his players throughout the media session was OU's improved depth. The 17-member squad returns its top six scorers from last season, and four newcomers figure to play prominent roles as well.
One of those fresh faces is Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Amath M'Baye, a junior forward who sat out last year after transferring from Wyoming.
Said Kruger, "Amath brings versatility, a great motor, great energy, (the ability to run) the floor and effort to the board. He's just engaged all the time. When you think about a player like that, and you get that many minutes that he's going to play on the floor at that high level of competiveness and engagement and productivity, that's a big boost right off the top."
Select quotes from Kruger and OU's three captains (M'Baye and senior forwards Andrew Fitzgerald and Romero Osby) are below, while several video clips are in the sidebar to the right.
The Sooners play their first exhibition game this Friday at 7 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center against Division II foe Washburn. Tickets for the general public for the exhibition contest start at $5, while OU students will be admitted free with a valid school I.D.
|| Head Coach Lon Kruger Quotes
"It's hard to believe it's that time of the year already. It seems like it comes along very quickly once school starts and football starts. Basketball season is upon us. Our opener is this Friday night exhibition-wise. This group has worked hard. I couldn't be more pleased with what they've done in the spring and summer and fall, and again, I think one of the motivating factors there is the fact that the senior group, they haven't played in the postseason. They've bonded together, and they've got a real purpose, as does everyone in the Big 12, of wanting to play in the postseason. Their work to this point has shown that they are very genuine about that, and we are excited about what they've done and certainly looking forward to the games ahead."
On the goals and expectations of this team:
"Goals and expectations from a coaching perspective really don't change too much from year to year in terms of really working hard, playing together, playing unselfishly, doing what you can individually to help the group achieve as much as possible. I think the thing that stands out with this group is their sincerity with regard to investment, with regard to playing unselfishly, with regard to thoughts about teammates, about one another. With every team you want that to be the case. This team really feels that, and I think maybe as much as any group we've had for a while."
On differences fans can expect to see this year compared to last season:
"First, probably, the depth of this team. I think we've got a lot more quality depth. Last year we were fairly shy in terms of depth. Guys are going to come off the bench. They are going to provide productive, quality minutes. I think the competition for time, even internally here, has been very good. It's been very healthy. Guys have handled it well. One of the strengths of this ball club is the depth and being able to keep fresh people on the floor and pick people up when you go into the ballgames, and the guys understand that that's a positive thing and [are] promoting each other to step in and pick up what's happening on the floor and be productive and make a positive impact."
On the current culture of the program:
"Not necessarily comparing what was or what wasn't before we got here, just what we always try to do is the expectation. We want our players to expect a lot of themselves. We're certainly going to expect a lot from them in terms of work ethic and habits, to give themselves a chance to be as good as possible every day in terms of respect for others on the team or others around campus or the community. And this is not that that was a change from before, it's just what is pretty standard fare for us; and these guys were great. These guys responded with good work ethic. Like I've said many times, I think this year's group will compete harder. I think we will work as hard but compete a little harder. There's a little difference between working hard and really competing for that result, and this year's group seems to have a better grasp and understanding of what that means. Certainly we have to carry that over into ballgames and into the last two minutes of ballgames."
On the Big 12:
"Very tough as always. When you think about the Big 12, you know it's going to be tough every year. The addition of Trent Johnson [TCU head coach], Bob Huggins [West Virginia head coach] -- two veteran coaches. You know that they're going to bring quality to the league for sure. Kansas, as projected, deserves the No. 1 nod going in since they've done it the last 30 or 40 years it seems like. They've done a great job. Bill's [Self] done a great job there. Maybe more balance top to bottom than what we've had recently in terms of real quality. Depth in the league. I can see not a lot of separation between the top half and the bottom half, which is pretty typical in a lot of leagues. I think this league is going to be pretty balanced."
|| Senior Captain Andrew Fitzgerald Quotes
On if not reaching the NCAA tournament will be a failure or disappointment:
"It would be more of a disappointment if we don't make the tournament this year, but we are just going to take it one game at a time. We are working hard. We have a lot of work that we need to be doing. It's going to be a fun process for us."
On depth of this year's team:
"Last year, we didn't have that much depth, but it's nice that we have a lot of depth; guys that can come in and play that role. That's a real key for us."
On the most notable difference fans can expect to see:
"Probably the faster pace. Last year we played fast, this year will are going to play faster. I think all of our guys worked hard in preseason conditioning to play that faster pace. It's going to be a fun process, a fun year for us, and I just can't wait to get started."
On his expectations for his senior season:
"To take our time, one game at a time, and take advantage of the opportunities we have. From a players' and coaches' perspective, there are a lot of expectations for us. I think as a group we are really trying to exceed those expectations that they perceive for us."
|| Senior Captain Romero Osby Quotes
On what Amath M'Baye brings to the team:
"First of all, he brings depth because he is another body, but just athleticism -- more athleticism -- added to some of the guys we already have. He will help on the rebounding. He will bring a different tone of leadership because he leads vocally and by example as well. I think sometimes people get tired of hearing that same voice in the locker room all the time. When you have two or three guys out there who have proven themselves as leaders saying something, it's always good for the team to have two or three guys who can be leaders. So having him in the locker room will help us as well."
On M'Baye's presence allowing him to be a more effective rebounder:
"My rebounding kind of dipped toward the end of the year. My scoring went up, but my rebounding went down. I always try to take pride on being a good rebounder, so this year, having Amath will help me. Sometimes he's going to be so active on the offensive glass that he's going to tip it around. He may not get the board, but it allows me to get in good position to get the board or vice versa. On the defensive end, knowing that I have somebody else that can help rebound kind of takes a little pressure off me of getting them every time, even though you want to get every rebound. When you've got someone who's active like that, helping on the boards, it's a relief."
On the depth of this year's team:
"I see a lot more depth. We've got a lot more depth (in the backcourt). We've got a lot more depth inside with Amath, and then we've got me, [Andrew] Fitzgerald and Casey Arent and some really good guys who can play inside and out. Tyler Neal can play some forward for us, too. We've got more depth inside and out, so I think that's really going to help our team."
|| Junior Captain Amath M'Baye Quotes
On high expectations placed on him this season:
"High expectations mean you've been doing a good job of doing what you do, so that's the way I see it. I see it with a lot of pride. I'm really excited people expect a lot from me. It's a lot of pressure, but there is always going to be pressure for me in this world of basketball in college or once you become a pro. You just have to focus on your game and helping your team the best way you can."
On the strengths of this team:
"I think its youth, its energy, how the old guys are picking up the young guys and how the young guys are picking up the old guys. The whole depth chart is so versatile. There are so many players that can do so many things. I think it's going to be great for us. We've got great leadership coming from the seniors and amazing leadership from the freshmen as well. Je'lon [Hornbreak] for example; he might be a freshman guard but he doesn't make many mistakes. He is a guy I listen to any time he talks to me, as much as he listens when I talk to him. The fact that we have so many people than can do so many good things for us is going to be helpful."
On how he has evolved as a player since his last game at Wyoming:
"I couldn't tell you. I haven't thought about it that much. It's just my role changed a lot. I didn't have much leadership. I had leadership, but I was not asked to be a leader as much as I am here. All they asked me to do was take the ball and put it in the basket, and I had to try to find a way to do it. Here, I have a lot more responsibilities. I think my game changed in the way that I work on my skills. I worked on different aspects of the game. I've watched the game a lot. I've watched film from all of our games, our practices. I just try to make good choices and make sure I can help this team the best way."