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October 31, 2012

Notebook: M'Baye excited to finally play

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Junior forward Amath M'Baye might be looking forward to Oklahoma's Friday exhibition game against Washburn a little more than his teammates.

M'Baye began his career at Wyoming where he averaged 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds as a sophomore. He started all 31 games for the Cowboys and led the U20 French national team to a silver medal at the 2009 U20 European Championships.

But due to NCAA transfer rules he wasn't allowed to play during his first year at Oklahoma.

SCOOPHD: LON KRUGER, SOONERS LOOK AHEAD TO 2012-13

"I've been getting ready for a whole year now," M'Baye said.

M'Baye threw down highlight reel dunks during practices last year and peppered his teammates with steals and blocks on the defensive end of the floor. He can't wait to play against Washburn at Lloyd Noble Center.

"I don't want to be the opposition," he said. "It's going to be terrible for them. I don't know. I might do something crazy. I'm really excited."

KRUGER SIX WINS FROM No. 500

Oklahoma men's basketball coach Lon Kruger endured his worst season in 13 years during his first year in Norman. As head coach of Illinois, Kruger finished the 1998-99 season with a 14-18 record.

With the 15 wins OU notched last season, Kruger is just six wins from earning the 500th victory of his collegiate head coaching career. The Sooners could carry Kruger to that milestone by New Year's Day with a nonconference schedule which includes Louisiana-Monroe (3-26 in 2011-12), Northwestern State (16-16), Arkansas (18-14), Texas A&M (14-18) and Texas A&M Corpus Christi (6-24).

"The schedule presents a challenge," Kruger said at media day Monday. "Even though we're not at home early, it's a good schedule for us because we do go on the road Even though it's not another Big 12 opponent, it's a tough challenge."

The Sooners open the regular season Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Monroe at Lloyd Noble.

THREE FRESHMEN TO PLAY SIGNIFICANT MINUTES

Freshmen Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield and Je'lon Hornbeak were recruited to give Oklahoma quality depth at the guard positions. Kruger said they'll receive an opportunity to contribute early and often.

"They're going to play quality minutes for sure," Kruger said. "Those are the newcomers who are gonna play."

OU needs these freshmen to provide scoring and defense early and often.

In 2010-11, the Sooners' three-guard rotation lost scoring from the bench with the transfer of former Sooner guard Calvin Newell to UCF at the beginning of the 2011 spring semester. Newell averaged 13.0 points per game in 2011 for Oklahoma at the time of his transfer and helped the Sooners begin 4-1 last season.

Prior to transferring to Prairie View A&M, former Sooner Carl Blair Jr. provided energy and a defensive presence in the backcourt while spelling and playing alongside Grooms. But Blair added just 3.5 points and 2.5 assists offensively.

Cousins was a Rivals.com three-star recruit at Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and was named "Mr. Basketball." At 6-foot-3, he will be a welcome compliment to senior point guard Sam Grooms.

"There's no knock on him at all," Grooms said of Cousins. "He's good. He's great. He's athletic - typical New York guard in my opinion. He has handles. He can distribute the ball really well."

Hornbeak was a Rivals.com four-star recruit at Texas Grace Preparatory Academy. He averaged 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and assists per game while leading his squad to a 27-4 record.

Hornbeak said he sought out the guidance of the coaching staff as well as the upperclassmen early and often. He said he's benefited from one-on-one film sessions with each of the coaches and stands in awe of Kruger's knowledge of the game.

"There's so many plays that Coach Kruger has in his mind," Hornbeak said. "He'll write something down, and you'll be like 'It's not gonna work.' Wide open with an easy jumper. You'll be like 'Wow, he's a great coach.'"

BENNETT AND COLE TO REDSHIRT

Junior college transfer D.J. Bennett and Sperry, Okla., native C.J. Cole will redshirt this season, Kruger said. They'll join Gonzaga transfer Ryan Spangler in sitting out the 2012-13 season.

Spangler, a sophomore forward, will sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. As a prep player, he averaged 29.2 points and 17.2 rebounds at Blanchard High School and was named Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year.

Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, averaged 7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks at Indian Hills Community college in Ottumwa, Iowa. Kruger said Bennett has the talent to compete in the post for the Sooners.

"I think D.J. is coming along very, very quickly and doing a lot of things well," Kruger said. "I think that extra year for him will be really positive and productive. We're excited about that for D.J."



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