We were lucky enough to secure a Q&A with Nate Kotisso, whom is affiliated with the popular Rush The Court college basketball blog. Nate is a Big 12 writer for the site, and also a student at The University of Missouri, much like myself.
Chris Novak: The Sooners had one of the best offensive attacks last year by most metrics, but were a bit feeble defensively. Is the outlook in 2014 any different, or should we expect similar results?
Nate Kotisso: Guarding the perimeter will once again be a problem for the Sooners but their interior defense should be much better. Ryan Spangler was a double-double machine a season ago but throw in the recently-eligible TaShawn Thomas, who defends as well as he scores, and Khadeem Lattin, a more polished defender than anything else, now you won't see Oklahoma surrender 70 to 80 points per game.
CN: For those who may be unfamiliar, Oklahoma has one of the best players in the Big 12 with Buddy Hield. Give us, in your opinion, his strengths and weaknesses, and how we'll likely see him attack on the floor on Wednesday night in Omaha.
NK: The first thing that sticks out is how good of a shooter he is. Despite sharing the ball in a four-guard starting lineup in 2013-14, Hield took 7.1 three point attempts per game and made 2.7 of them, good for 38.6 percent. He's got decent size at 6'4" and 209 pounds and speed to take opposing guards to the cup or be physical with them on defense but Hield has not been committed to those causes completely. You hope with a defensively-inclined coach like Lon Kruger in your corner, chances are Hield's poor closeouts would be corrected early on but not so.
CN: TaShawn Thomas was recently declared eligible for Oklahoma, and many pundits were raving about the idea of him being a huge X-Factor for the Sooners going forward this year. How big of an impact can you see him making for this team from a Big 12 and national perspective?
Nate: You can join me into that group of pundits who see Thomas as a big X-Factor for the Sooners' season outlook. I've had the fortune to watch Thomas play up close at the University of Houston and the biggest surprise to me about his game at first glance was how quick on his feet was for a man his size. He's not a super imposing presence (6'8", 240 pounds) but he's got a great nose for the ball. He is athletic and bouncy enough to grab rebounds in bunches (8.7 career RPG) and alter shot attempts (2.1 career BPG). His addition gives the defense with many more problems than they had before. In addition to worrying about the array of shooters, now guys like Thomas or Spangler can score with their backs to the basket. The Sooners join with Kansas, Texas and Iowa State as the Big 12's best hope for a Final Four team this March.
CN: Creighton has lit up the scoreboard so far this season even with a ridiculous amount of turnover. If Oklahoma is to win, what type of defensive strategies should they use to combat this potent offense?
Nate: The interior: that's a huge advantage the Sooners have in this game. Limit as many easy basket opportunities as possible and win the rebounding battle because it's Creighton. They're going to shoot it and they're going to have to get most of those long rebounds in order to give themselves a chance against a team that is better than they are.
CN: Give us a prediction.
Nate: I'm thinking 82-68 Sooners win. The game is close for about 30 minutes but Oklahoma seems to get everything to go smoothly. Rebounding will be a big key for tonight and the Sooners will win it decisively.