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January 31, 2014
'Sooners unselfishness a hallmark of its success'
Three days before No. 23 Oklahoma travels to Ames, Iowa, to try to pull off the league double against No. 16 Iowa State at 3 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum, the Sooners split up into groups to shoot at each of the baskets mounted in the men's practice gym at Lloyd Noble.
Their aim was to shoot as many balls as they could through the orange cylinders in five minutes. In front of one basket Sooner guards Frank Booker, Cam Clark, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard launched shot after shot from spot after spot.
SCOOPHD: SOONERS HEAD TO HILTON COLISEUM SATURDAY 3PM
With each shot attempt, OU's managers called out a number denoting how many shots the group had made. It's a catch-and-shoot drill Booker, Clark, Cousins and Woodard should be particularly adept at executing.
Of the foursome, Booker shoots the worst percentage from 3-point land -- just 34.2 percent. But in this exercise of catch and shoot he's one of the better shooters on the court.
When their allotted time for the drill ran out, OU assistant Chris Crutchfield asked how many shots the group made. Their number was 86, but that's not good enough for Booker.
He thought that number should be around 90. Booker, a freshman 2-guard, is a catch-and-shoot offensive player.
He helps OU spread the floor against longer teams and provides the Sooners with another capable shooter in the corner.
"When we're moving the ball a lot, people are helping a lot," he said, "so when we drive and kick, I get a lot of open shots."
According to hoop-math.com, a website devoted to advanced college basketball statistics, 96 percent of Booker's 3-point shots are assisted. OU's unselfishness has been one of the hallmarks of its success.
"We've got mobile guys who all handle the ball well and are willing passers and move it well and create opportunities for each other," said OU coach Lon Kruger.
Six Sooners shoot better than 34 percent from beyond the arc but none better than senior forward Tyler Neal. Neal shoots 47.4 percent from behind the 3-point line.
He's especially adept at catching and shooting. In fact, all 18 of his made 3-point shots have been assisted. But it's not as easy as waiting in the corner for the ball to come to him.
Before Neal catches the ball, he's already decided whether he's going to shoot based on the team's ball movement and his proximity to the nearest defender.
"A lot of it happens before you catch the ball," he said. "I think that's something a lot of people don't understand. So most of the time I know I'm going to shoot it before I catch it. I don't catch and look. That throws my rhythm off."
90.3 percent of OU's 3-point shots are assisted. That's nearly 6 percent higher than the Division I average on assisted 3-pointers (84.9 percent).
This means nearly every team in Division I benefits from ball movement, but this is especially true for a Sooner squad that runs four guards on the floor most the time. The Sooners have to make their 3-pointers count.
As a team, the Sooners shoot 37.9 percent from beyond the arc, which is almost 3 percent higher than the Division I average. Among Big 12 teams, the Sooners rank third behind Baylor (39.6 percent) and WVU (38.3 percent) in 3-point shooting.
However, Baylor has taken far fewer 3-point attempts (359) than both the Mountaineers (433) and the Sooners (435). Only Iowa State has shot more 3s (475) than OU.
According to kenpom.com, a website devoted to college basketball analytics, the Sooners score 28.1 percent of their points from beyond the arc. 47.5 percent of their points come from inside the arc, and 24.4 percent come from the charity stripe.
The Cyclones can shoot it from beyond the arc too. They averaging 35 percent from deep range but are more heavily reliant on the trey to score points.
31.2 percent of ISU's points this season have come from 3-point land. That's nearly 5 percent higher than the Division I average (26.5 percent).
The Cyclones, like the Sooners, need to move the ball and spread the floor to have success offensively -- especially when shooting 3-pointers. If OU can limit ISU's 3-point shooting opportunities and maximize its own, they'll have a decent chance of walking out of Hilton with a win.