Porter Moser knew he would have a challenge at Oklahoma has he replaced Lon Kruger when he took the job earlier this season.
But there are other challenges beyond just replacing a coach that could be a Hall of Famer someday. And those challenges have nothing to do with replacing the man.
It’s replacing the team that Kruger left him. Or, at least what was left of it.
Most of the team transferred away after Kruger’s departure, and Moser faced a unique challenge in recruiting and building team chemistry.
“It’s no secret — it takes time to build relationships,” Moser said at Big 12 Media Day on Wednesday. The one dynamic that is different is what you take over. You may have nine guys returning and they know each other. We had to sign nine and they didn’t know each other, and the guys that were coming back didn’t know them. So you’re trying to build camaraderie and install a system, and that takes time.”
The Sooners are coming off a 16-11 season, and the Sooners won their Big 12 Tournament opener over Iowa State, 79-73. The Sooners lost their next tournament game to Kansas, 69-62. The Sooners earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament and won their first-round game against Missouri, 72-68. But, Oklahoma’s run ended in the second round against Gonzaga, 87-71.
After the season, Kruger retired and the Sooners hired Moser, formerly at Loyola-Chicago, where he led the Ramblers to a surprise run to the Final Four. The Sooners lost several players to transfer, including forward Brady Manek and guard De’Vion Harmon. Another guard, Austin Reaves, chose not to exercise his COVID-19 year of eligibility and moved on to the NBA, where he joined the Los Angeles Lakers as an undrafted free agent.
The Sooners were able to bolster their roster with transfers, including a high-profile get in Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves, who had a huge game on the national stage against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. His brother, Jacob Groves, also followed him. The Sooners also added Duke transfer Jordan Goldwire. The Sooners do return a pair of solid guards in Umoja Gibson and Elijah Harkless.
The Wildcats open the regular season at home on Nov. 9 against Northwestern State.
Heartland College Sports Big 12 Basketball Preview
Top 25 Returning Players: No. 25 Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua | No. 24 Christian Braun | No. 23 Rondel Walker | No. 22 Umoja Gibson | No. 21 Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe | No. 20 Nijel Pack | No. 19: Marcus Santos-Silva | No. 18 Mike McGuirl | No. 17 Jalen Bridges | No. 16 Kalib Boone | No. 15 Kevin McCullar | No. 14 Isaac Likekele | No. 13 Adam Flagler | No. 12 Jalen Coleman-Lands | No. 11 Sean McNeil | No. 10 Taz Sherman
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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