Pre-Season Thunder Talk

After months of talks, charity games, the NBA Lockout is pretty much over! Let’s talk Thunder basketball and some of the key things they need to do for upcoming season.

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Signing Westbrook to an extension has to be the number 1 priority for the Thunder. The NBA has quickly become a point guard driven league and Westbrook has the speed, range, and skill set to go up against the other elite point guards such as Rose, Paul, and Williams. If the Thunder fail to get extension from the All-Star or receive indications that he wants to stay in OKC past this year, they should consider trading him in order to get value for him. Making an aggressive sales pitch for Chris Paul would be a nice option.


The mid-season trade by the Thunder last year to add size to the front court gave the team a little bit of an attitude in the middle, which it needed, but also yielded mixed results. Ultimately, foul trouble and his presence in the middle, both offensively and defensively, fell short of people’s expectations. I think it was a combination of joining a new team mid-season and recovering from injuries that mainly affected his play. This year, however, he won’t have those excuses. He’s not expected to score 30 a night like Durant, but GM Sam Presti would not have signed him to an extension if he felt Perkins could not contribute to the team long term.

Rumors, News, and Notes

The Thunder will need to add some bench scoring if Harden becomes a starter. Resigning Daequan Cook could definitely provide a spark off the bench, as could the addition of Shane Battier or Tyson Chandler. Former KU product Cole Aldrich could definitely see more playing time this year provide solid depth and be an un-expected role guy that could come in and be like Denver’s Chris “Birdman” Anderson.

The Thunder will play the Mavericks twice in the preseason. The first game at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at American Airlines Center in Dallas and the other game at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 at Oklahoma City.

Hopefully OKC can get a Christmas day game versus Memphis to start the season.

Can the Sooners win Bedlam? Really??

Some of you may want me to ask “will” the Sooners win bedlam? I think the better question is, do the Sooners have a legitimate chance of winning?

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Obviously the Pokes should be favored. They've played better on a more consistent basis than the Sooners. They've only lost one game, in OT, on the road, on a night after devastation hit their campus. Sooner fans can try to say OSU is not that good, but we all know that this might be the best OSU team ever. Offensively they are definitely one of the best in the nation, if not THE best. Defense is their obvious weakness. And in the words of Berry Tramel, “It's about time OSU won Bedlam. If the Cowboys don't win this year, with the better team and the better health and playing at home, when will they ever?”

But the question is still there . . . Can the Sooners win? Not a 10-20% chance, but a serious chance of winning. Really??

In the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend." Think about all their issues. You may have read my previous blog about the defense being broken. It’s true the defense looked better this past week against ISU. But let’s be honest, it was wet, cold, playing at home and uhhhh it was Iowa State. Even though OSU lost to them, don’t expect this defense to hold the Pokes to 6 points. Considering the losses on the offensive side of the ball, I don’t see the Sooners winning a shootout. It would be Baylor all over again. The only legitimate chance the Sooners have is IF their defense plays one of their “good” games. One of the games like they played against FSU or UT or ISU. If they play like they did against TTU or Baylor then it could get ugly. Do you believe this defense will get it done against a good offense? The answer to that question will decide this game.

Consider also the injuries. Is OU really deep enough to overcome injuries to Broyles and Whaley? Is Jaz going to play? Either way, the Sooners will come in short-handed. The biggest loss may be Ronnell Lewis on the defensive front.  He is projected to be a first round draft choice and without him in there the pass rush is severely limited. Obviously not a good thing against a largely passing offense. Frank Alexander will most likely see a lot of double-teams and thus limit his impact.

Home field advantage? I don’t think this is as big as some people might suppose. The last 4 games in Stillwater have all been very close with the Sooners coming out on the winning end. This year’s Sooner team hasn't had a big issue playing on the road. They have been as good (or bad) on the road as they have been at home. Advantage Pokes but not decisive.

Many games come down to penalties and turnovers. In the past 2 games the Sooners have turned the ball over SEVEN times total. The main thing that saved them against ISU was the FOUR turnovers they forced. Without those, the game would have most likely gone down to the wire. Almost 100 yards in penalties against Baylor also was a key stat that led to their demise.

On the positive side of the equation the Sooners have a LOT of history on their side, including the last eight wins in a row. As some suggest though, the Pokes are about due for an upset and this year it wouldn’t really be an upset, which is something new, and a little disappointing.

So we’re back to the question: Can the Sooners win bedlam? I say . . . yes? Barely? Ha. I admit that my threshold for saying, Yes, is very low. The odds are probably somewhere in the 30% range, just enough to say, Yes, they can win bedlam!!

BUT . . . It will take an extraordinary defensive effort AND they cannot lose the turnover battle.

The odd part is that at least this year it seems the tables have turned. The question is usually aimed at the Pokes about can they win. And usually it is assumed they can but they don’t.

So will the Sooners win? Now that is another question.

Pistol Needs More Bullets

It's bedlam again. This year, there's a little more on the line for the Cowboys. Not just pride. Not just the spoiler role. But, a chance for a Big XII championship and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Yes, there's still a .001% chance the Pokes make it to New Orleans, but my money is on a rematch there. So, how do the Cowboys go into this game? Surely not the same way they've went into in the past, with the minor exceptions of one or two times. Here's my take on why the Cowboys will ride to victory.

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Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, Joseph Randle, Jeremy Smith, Michael Harrison, Josh Cooper. Did I stutter? No. These guys are ballers. They are all Big XII elite players, and what's scary, any one of them can score at any moment. OU has a lot of playmakers, too, but not near this weaponry. The Cowboys have played unbelievable on offense in particular at home. They've dismantled opponents, with the exception of Kansas State, at gold-plated T. Boone Pickens Stadium. When it rains, it pours in Stillwater. Bullett's legs have got to be tired when he takes the field on Saturdays. The players know what's at stake. The fans know what's at stake. With an offense this powerful, I don't see anything getting in the way of a huge point outbreak. The Sooners' defense has been abused more than once this year, and I'm sure Gundy's boys are watching film of the Baylor and Texas Tech game as we speak figuring out exactly where OU is most vulnerable. If the Cowboys do lose this game, it won't be from a lack of point scoring.

OSU leads the nation in takeaways. Call it luck. Call it being at the right place at the right time. Call it whatever you may, but there's no denying that the Pokes flourish on takeaways, especially at home. They are notorious for giving up a 10 play – 80 yard drive and recovering a fumble or forcing an interception near their own goal line. It's really hard to explain, but game after game, they figure out a way to get the ball back in Weeden's hands. We all know how Landry can be on the road. One or two slip-ups is all it would take to win the game. I do believe it comes down to ball security on who wins this game, and we would all agree, the edge before the game would go to OSU.

Two weeks ago, the Cowboys were stunned in Ames, Iowa. They had their National Title hopes dashed by a freshman quarterback and a letdown on defense in the second half. There's nothing more dangerous than a team coming off of a bad loss, ruining their year. I expect the Cowboys to come out with a chip on their shoulder. I think they will want to show not only the fans, but the voters of the BCS, computers and opponents that they belong in New Orleans to play for the crystal ball. They have a home crowd. There's a ton of players who, likely, will be playing their final game in Boone Pickens. I can't see Weeden and company going out without one more fun show for the sea of orange. At this point, it's all about pride and glory. OSU isn't the OSU teams of the past. This team belongs here. They didn't luck their way here. They earned it and they will show that.

Personally, I think the over/under will be placed somewhere around 80 points. That being said, some meteorologists are calling for a cold night with a wintry mix likely. If that's the case, the favorites are from Norman. The Sooners run the ball batter, and OSU is not very good against the run. Notice on how my keys to victory did not include "defense". OU will come out pounding the ball, and if the "Belldozer" gets his chances near the goal line, there's no way OSU will win. If the skies remain clear, I see OSU knocking off OU. Anything short of a win, and it's a letdown in Stillwater for the Pokes. Same goes for OU, too. This should be a battle for ages.

TheMayor's Prediction:
Cowboys – 42
Sooners – 34

Why The Sooners Will Win Bedlam

Bedlam is finally upon us.  There are many biased and outspoken fans in the state of Oklahoma trash talking each other this week and I will be no different.

So why, exactly, do I think the Sooners will win Bedlam this year?  Well, it's pretty simple actually.  

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From the previous 105 games played between the two teams, the Sooners have come out on top 82 times.  What's that?  No one cares what happened 100 years ago?  OK, how about the last 8 straight the Sooners have won against their in-state little brothers?  You have to go all the way back to 2002 to find the last time the Pokes were able to upset the Sooners.  That's including a very similar Cowboys squad last year that hosted the Sooners in Stillwater with the very same high octane offense yet failed to win a shootout.

So enough about the past, why will the Sooners win this year you ask?  Here are a few reasons:

Offense.  This point is pretty self explanatory and can easily be argued from either side, but I'm sure you know which side I'm on by now.  The Sooners offense is the one thing that has not floundered this season even through the two painful losses.  It is no secret that the Sooner secondary has more than a couple of holes in it, but the offensive unit has surprisingly yet to wilt despite season ending injuries to their top WR and RB.  For all his faults, Landry Jones has continued to deliver when the Sooners needed him most and he has especially stepped up in big games this season.  There is no doubt this game will be a high scoring affair.  The Sooners don't need their defense to win the game, they just need to be the last ones with the ball in their hands.  The Sooners have shown that they are able to adapt and come up with new schemes to get the ball in the end zone, which leads me to my next point…

The Belldozer.  I won't try to hide the man crush I have for Blake Bell and his Tim Tebow-esque knack for getting in the end zone.  The addition of the Belldozer formation was nothing short of pure brilliance from the Sooner coaching staff.  Everyone knew the offense continually sputtered in the red zone.  Everyone knew they had a potential stud QB waiting in the wings, but how could they possibly bench their Heisman candidate QB to resolve their red zone woes?  I won't go all statistician on you, but trust me when I say that Blake Bell's numbers speak for themselves in short yardage situations and has no question been the answer to the Sooners goal line issues of years past.  Iowa State lined up 10 men in the box.  Didn't matter.  Bell is a force to be reckoned with and finds a way to get in the end zone even when opponents know it's coming.  Once he masters the skill of passing the ball, there is no telling his limits.

This is a big game.  There is no question this is a big game, but how does that play into the Sooners favor?  The Sooners have been notorious for getting up for big games, but allowing lesser opponents to jump them while they have their eyes set on the next "big game".  Unquestionably, the Sooners have had their eyes set on OSU for some time now and probably overlooked Texas Tech and Baylor leading up to Bedlam.  The Sooners national championship dreams this season may be over, but a Big 12 title and BCS bowl are still well within their grasp and they fully intend on making sure little brother doesn't mess with those plans.  The Sooners may have overlooked previous opponents, but there is no doubt they will be up for this game and they have proven to succeed in every other big time game this year.

In the end, I fully expect a wild shootout similar to last years Bedlam madness.  While the Cowboys should rightfully be favored going into this game, I just can't see the Pokes breaking the streak this year even though it may be the best chance they've had since that fatefull night in 2002.  If there is one thing that we know to be true, it's that history repeats itself.

What are we talkin’ ’bout? PLAYOFFS?!

Well, it's that time of year in the Great State. High School football playoffs are upon us. Today, I will dissect Class 6A through Class 4A. There's a few surprises out there. Fasten your seatbelts!

Continue reading What are we talkin’ ’bout? PLAYOFFS?!

Class 6A:

Semifinal 1 – Owasso (9-3) vs Broken Arrow (11-1)
Owasso is coming off of a very impressive performance against an 11-0, number 2 ranked Midwest City Bomber squad. The Rams overcame a 14 point halftime defecit and prevailed, once again, squashing the hopes of a west 6A team winning state.
Broken Arrow is the heavy favorite in this game. Their only blemish was a 7-point defeat at the hands of powerhouse Tulsa Union. Other than that, the tigers have been downright unstoppable.

TCS game prediction:
Broken Arrow – 37
Owasso – 21

Semifinal 2 – Union (11-1) vs Jenks (10-2)
Here's what most in the state would expect to be the state finals matchup, yet again. Wrong! Jenks was knocked off twice this season and did not win it's district. However, they've handled business thus far in the playoffs drubbing both Stillwater and Edmond Santa Fe with a combined score of 86-35. Sooner commit, Alex Ross, leads the backfield, and Trojan fans have to be excited he's finally healthy and back in the lineup.
Union is 11-1 on the year, as stated above, with their only loss coming from Owasso. Clearly, all four of these teams know each other well as they are all from the Tulsa metro area. Jenks is flashy and solid on defense when it matters most. This should be a dandy!

TCS prediction:
Jenks – 30
Union – 28

Class 5A:

Semifinal 1 – Guthrie (12-0) vs McAlester (12-0)
Guthrie is the number 1 ranked team in 5A, and have been the majority of the year. However, as most know, Head Coach Rafe Watkins is not on the sidelines this postseason. There was a dispute filing paperwork on a transferring player, that was against OSSAA policies. Thus far, the Blue Jays have taken care of business in the first two rounds, but narrowly squeaked by Tulsa East Central in round number 2 at "The Rock". Guthrie is vulnerable without Coach Watkins, but they won't go out without a huge fight. They are number 1 for a reason.
On the other hand, McAlester is a juggernaut on offense. They hand opponents a healty portion of both air and ground attacks. I watched first-hand last week as the Buffaloes handled the Duncan Demons. The score wasn't a reflection of the game. "Big Mac" had over 400 yards rushing and over 150 yards passing in their quarterfinal showdown. One thing is certain, there will be points put up in this one.

TCS Prediction:
McAlester – 42
Guthrie – 35

Semifinal 2 – Lawton Mac (12-0) vs Ardmore (8-4)
Lawton Mac is the easy choice here. They are dangerous on both offense and defense. They are coached very well. They are sound on defense. They rarely make mistakes. The Highlanders have been the most consistent team of the year. They have to be the favorite at this point, but with these teams at the top of 5A, and on a neutral field, anything can happen.
Those pesky Ardmore Tigers. All they did was sneak in the playoffs with a 6-4 record, and have advanced all the way to the "Final 4", if you will. They are really good defensively. They are athletic and aren't afraid of anything. One of their defeats came against McAlester early in the year by a score of 25-20. They will come out aggressive and are most dangerous as a serious underdog. Those teams in the playoffs are always scary to undefeated teams.

TCS Prediction:
Lawton Mac – 35
Ardmore – 22

Class 4A:

Semifinal 1 – Catoosa (12-0) vs Clinton (11-1)
Catoosa is 12-0, ranked number 1 in all of class 4A. Numbers say they should coast into the finals on December 2nd. They have an absolutely incredible defense. They are stingy. Their only scare was in the first round of the playoffs against Broken Bow (24-21). Other than that, they've handled their business very effeciently.
Clinton seems to always find a way. They've won their fair share of titles. They are 11-1 and on a mission as always. The Red Tornadoes will storm into this game with all kinds of confidence. Experience, discipline and class is all everyone knows about Clinton. I expect a classic!

TCS Prediction:
Catoosa – 21
Clinton – 14

Semifinal 2 – Wagoner (11-1) vs McGuinness (10-2)
Wagoner, in recent years, have produced some very athletic, talented football players. The Bulldogs have always knocked at the door, but never have pushed through, like some would have thought by now. This might be their best chance. They have an experienced group back. They are fast and elusive on offense. They tackle well and won't give up too many big plays. Their secondary will have a plate full!
McGuinness is back again. Seems like they always produce enough talent to make it this far, and in most cases, the whole way. Camden Tharpe is a stud. He slings the ball as good as anyone in Oklahoma. Their wide open offense is difficult to stop. When the opposition finally figures that out, Tharpe can run it just as well. He's the definition of "dual threat quarterback"

TCS Prediction:
McGuinness – 37
Wagoner – 34

If you have a chance to get out, go see these young men leave it all on the field. We were all there once. Nothing like some good, old-fashined Friday Night Football! Should be interesting!

(Note from
Class 3A-B will be updated as the semi-finals take stage. They still have a few weeks to go. Updates will be available as soon as possible.