Weekly Wrap

Welcome to the Weekly Wrap where we dissect recent happenings across the local sports scene and generally whatever is on our minds. Look for the Weekly Wrap published every Friday.

• So that tidbit I snuck in my last post about the optimism level rising in OKC? Yeah, not so much. A home loss to Cleveland? Giving up 42 points in the 4th quarter? Ugh, I have no idea what's going on now. I'm still not panicked, but definitely concerned. This was a prime game to make a statement, yet the Thunder still appeared a bit disinterested in playing any sort of semblance of defense. Here's to hoping that the Thunder take care of their next three average opponents and get their swagger back.

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• My partner in crime knocked out the second part of his 2014 Sooner football signings class this week that I'd highly recommend checking out. This time he digs into the defensive recruits. Get familiar with their names, these guys are the future of the program.

• The Thunder are 0-4 this season without Kendrick Perkins. Make of that what you will. My mind is blown.

• Former Oklahoma quarterback Kendal Thompson is transferring to Utah. This comes as a shock to exactly no one. Despite an injury just before the 2013 season, Thompson battled back was given a shot to prove his worth. It came during a stretch of miserable play from Bell and Knight with the potential to snatch the starting position with a good outing, but Thompson looked less than impressive. Thompson graduates in May so he will be eligible to play immediately for the Utes next season.

• A funny line from Royce Young over at Daily Thunder regarding the loss to the Cavs: "You could put the classification of the way the Thunder lost this one somewhere between bad, and season three of Homeland." Come on! Season three wasn't that bad!

• Former dismissed Oklahoma running back Damien Williams ran an impressive 4.45 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, good enough for the 4th best among running backs. Color me impressed. I assumed Williams' chances at an NFL career went down the drain when he was booted off the team last season. A public reason was never given for his dismissal, but with that kind of speed he just might find a place on an NFL roster.

• The Thunder are looking at signing a potential free agent or two. If there is anything just in this world, it will not be Metta World Peace Ron Artest.

• Keep your eyes peeled for a new Thunder basketball app that should be hitting the App Store any day now. I'm told it will be called "The Thunder App" and be a one-stop shop for Thunder fans. Very nice. Will do a review on it once I see it show up.

2014 Oklahoma Sooners Football Signing Class – Part 2 – Defense

In Part 1 of the Sooners 2014 Signing Class, we focused in on the offensive side of the ball. Now let's dig in and take a closer look at the defensive signings. In this article, I'm going to introduce you to the newest Sooners, what we expect from them, and a former OU player comparison to the player. Feedback always welcome. These names will be in no particular order.

Continue reading 2014 Oklahoma Sooners Football Signing Class – Part 2 – Defense


Curtis Bolton – LB – 6’2” 215 – Murrieta, Ca – Vista Murrieta High School

Curtis is a fast linebacker. He works extremely hard and isn’t afraid of contact. He will mix it up with anyone. He’s got a mean streak and relies on his speed to make the sure tackles. He’s a little bit small for his size, but the OU strength and conditioning department will make sure that’s all taken care of. There’s a lot of of room for development, but Curtis is that guy that won’t give up and he will make the coaches happy they’ve recruited him.

What we expect: A redshirt season is coming. It will do Curtis a lot of good to watch and learn the first year, and add a few pounds to make sure he has the pad level and strength to take on full backs and interior offensive linemen. He’ll make it to the field. The question is, when?

OU Football Comparison: Lewis Baker



Jordan Thomas – DB – 6’1” 180 – Klein, Tx – Klein High School

Jordan Thomas is a rangy cornerback. He possesses the speed you want at corner. He is also a ball hawk. He thrives on making big plays and has the length to contest any throw. He won’t be pushed around in the red zone and will make every play tough for the defender. Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops has raved about Jordan since day 1. It seems like Jordan was that diamond in the rough that the coaches wanted all along. Jordan isn’t a 5 star guy, but he has a great game.

What we expect: We expect Jordan to see some playing time. It would be likely he’d see time on the kickoff team and other special teams duties. A year to sit and watch Zack Sanchez and the other corners will do him good. However, there is an open spot at corner, so you never know. He’ll get some reps either way, we believe

OU Football Comparison: Lendy Holmes



Tito Windham – DB – 5’9” 174 – Gulfport, Ms – Harrison Central High School

Tito is undersized. There’s no way to put it. He’ll have to work really hard to be an every down corner. Where he lacks in size, he makes up for his football IQ. He has a knack for the ball and will throw his body around like he’s the biggest guy on the field. He can’t do anything about his height, except pray he gets bigger, but what he can do, is figure out a way to get on the field. Whatever it takes. He’s fast and he’s aggressive. Those are two things you can’t teach. 

What we expect: We expect Tito to redshirt. It wouldn’t surprise us if he ended up being a nickel corner and provide that extra body Mike Stoops defenses like. He can be that 5th moves to nickel, he’ll play later in his career. We don’t see him being out on an island every down, though. We love to be proven wrong in times like these.

OU Football Comparison: Marcus Trice (later transferred) defender in the 2nd level. 



Courtney Garnett – DL – 6’2” 285 – New Orleans, La – Saint Augustine High School

Mr. Garnett possesses everything you hope for in a defensive lineman. He’s big, strong, quick and aggressive. Courtney was highly recruited and it came down to signing day for OU Nation to breathe a sigh of relief when his letter of intent was faxed to OU. The one thing I’ve noticed about him is he’s always smiling. Every single picture I’ve seen of him has been with a big smile on his face. Courtney is extremely talented on the football field, but also seems to be of high character off the field. This reminds us of someone else who’s been here before. See below.

What we expect: We expect Courtney to play right away. He may not get the starting nod, but we feel he’ll be in the rotation from day 1 in Norman. Courtney will bolster the front 4 of OU’s defense in big ways in the next 3-4 years.

OU Football Comparison: Gerald McCoy 



Marcus Green – DB – 6’1” 180 – Cedar Hill, Tx – Cedar Hill High School

Marcus is an underrated defensive back. He loves the game of football and will do nothing but get better in his time in Norman. Earlier this week, LJ Moore decided to transfer, creating even more of a void at the 2nd corner position. We are unsure if he’ll stick with playing corner, or if he will go a hybrid route and line up at safety as well. Marcus had a great high school career in Cedar Hill and we can see his instincts making him a player at Oklahoma as well.

What we expect: Marcus will most likely redshirt. If anything, he will see some time in mop up duty or on special teams. He’s a tall defensive back player, so his size will make him a front-runner if he’s in a battle with another vying player. Marcus will end up playing significant time at OU.

OU Football Comparison: Desmond Jackson



Vontre McQuinnie – DB – 6’1” 204 – DeSoto, Tx – DeSoto High School

Vontre is big. He’s a huge corner, in fact. At 18 years old, he’s over 200 pounds and stands at least 6’1”. He’s already got the body. If his game comes around, he could play sooner than later. The one knock we’ve heard about him is he likes the big hit and has had times of difficulty wrapping up. This could be here say as we haven’t noticed it much on highlights. Bob Stoops said in his press conference that Vontre could be a key factor in defenses to come at OU. We kind of expect the same. 

What we expect: We expect Vontre to be a safety for the Sooners. There will be a hole in at least 1 position at safety this fall, and Vontre could very well make a name for himself sooner that we all expect. There’s been a lot of true freshman line up in OU’s secondary, especially during Mike Stoops’ days. 

OU Football Comparison: Nic Harris



Tay Evans – LB – 6’2” 200 – Allen, Tx – Allen High School

Tay Evans has been talked about a ton in Norman this year. We feel one of the main reasons is the program he’s from. Allen boasts one of, if not THE best high school stadium in the country. If anyone is ever near Allen, Tx, go by and see it. It’s quite impressive. Tay is undersized, but makes up for it with his speed. He’s got a nose for the ball and will get there in a hurry. He’ll need to add a few pounds before he’s ready to star at linebacker, but he’s got the tools and pedigree necessary to get the job done. He’s one of those rare finds. If he were 220 pounds, he’d have handpicked where he wanted to go. A big kudos goes to OU for offering Tay a scholarship. 

What we expect: Tay is one of those guys you want to root for and you want to see do well. He’s got the physical tools. Now we just want him to bulk up. Special teams is written all over Tay and maybe a few reps here and there on defense as well.

OU Football Comparison: Corey Nelson



Devante Bond – LB – 6’3” 240 – Roseville, Ca – Sierra College

The lone JUCO transfer is Davante Bond. Devante is a freak of nature size wise. If you get a chance, go check out his highlights on YouTube. I realize he’s been playing down competition wise, but he’s made the most of it. He’s dominated offenses. He’s sacked the QB, he’s picked off passes, he’s defended the run. There’s not much he hasn’t done in 2 years at Sierra College. He has elite speed and makes the tackles violently. Devante has one of the more impressive highlights I’ve seen in a long time.

What we expect: If Devante catches on to the scheme of the defense, he’ll play right away. Imagine Eric Striker at 240. That’s what we see. I expect Devante to play these last 2 years and be drafted in the NFL following. He’s that guy.

OU Football Comparison: Eric Striker (plus 30 pounds)



Dwayne Orso – DL – 6’6” 275 – DL – Birmingham, Al – Homewood High School

Dwayne was a late addition. He went unnoticed by local schools, such as Alabama and Auburn. Dwayne has a great frame. He needs to learn to use it better, and then find a spot he wants to play. Is it DE or DL? That’ll be the burning question in Norman. He’s not quite fast enough to rush the passer every time, but he’s not quite strong enough to play in the trenches yet. He’s a project and could end up being pretty good if he gets it. 

What we expect: We see a redshirt year for sure. He needs to get his body figured out and also figure out a spot to play on the defensive front. 

OU Football Comparison: Pryce Macon

Cause For Concern in OKC?

Since the return of Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are 0-2. Westbrook has looked a bit rusty if not downright awful in his first two games back. Scott Brooks hasn't quite figured out how to make the rotation work with Westbrook back in the lineup. Reggie Jackson has looked lost trying to adjust back to coming off the bench. The team that looked so lost without Westbrook in the playoffs last season were beginning to finally find their rhythm without him. Then something happened and the team with the best record in the league got pumped by the Heat and outran by the Clippers.

Is there cause for concern in Loud City?

Yes and no. Let me explain.

Continue reading Cause For Concern in OKC?

Is there cause for a little concern? Sure. Is there cause to go into a full blown panic? Not at all.

First things first, it's just two games, people. Relax. The Thunder went head to head with two of the top teams in the league and came away with two very different losses, yet everyone is ready to lose their minds. Have we become that spoiled already?

Need I remind you of the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat led by the two-time defending league MVP LeBron James? Or how about the Thunder's number two biggest threat in the West, LA Clippers?

It's so easy to sit back and point your finger to the return of Westbrook as the reason for these losses, but the simple fact is there was far from any guarantee that the Thunder win these games without Westbrook. I would contend the outcomes wouldn't have been any different.

What is it that you are so concerned with anyway? The offense after scoring a season low vs Miami? Sure didn't seem to have any problems scoring against the Clippers. The defense? It's been an issue all season against up-tempo teams. They've scraped by and gotten lucky in a number of high-scoring close games this season already. Their luck was bound to run out eventually trying to out-shoot teams filled with shooters.

There are high expectations for this team as there should be. This Oklahoma City bunch is a good team. They are likely going to enter the playoffs as one of the top two seeds in the West. Westbrook has been rusty, but was thrown to the wolves in his first two games back. He knew he would be roasted unless torched the Heat and Clippers en route to two overwhelming victories. Those expectations were never going to be met. Give the man some time.

Up next? Four straight home games vs Cleveland, Memphis, Charlotte, and Philadelphia. I have a feeling that the level of optimism will return to normal levels in the next couple of weeks.

Let's all step back, take a deep breath and remove our fingers from the panic button. Westbrook will find his groove, the role players will adjust and the Thunder will resume their status as the most feared team in the league.

Weekly Wrap

Welcome to the Weekly Wrap where we dissect recent happenings across the local sports scene and generally whatever is on our minds. Look for the Weekly Wrap published every Friday.

• Thunder vs Heat. Prime time television. The return of Russell Westbrook. A potential finals preview. This one wrote the story for itself, until it wasn't much of a game at all. LeBron heard all the chatter about Durant. He wasn't letting KD show him up this time. Taking the first 53 shots to start the game and making all of them (ok, that may be a bit of a stretch, but that's what it seemed like), King James set the tone early. He wasn't messing around, this was all business. Durant seemed a bit out of place at times. Maybe he was having a hard time re-adjusting to Westbrook's presence on the court. Maybe it was just an off night. Whatever it was, it wasn't pretty for the Thunder. While I'm still not sure why Brooks insists on starting Perkins vs the Heat, this one is far from Perk's fault. I'm going to write this game off as an anomaly and choose not to believe this is how a finals rematch would unfold.

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• Three Sooner football players were penalized for eating too much pasta during a graduation banquet last year. I don't even know where to start with this one. My initial reaction is to laugh, but how ridiculous is the NCAA? There is a limit on how much food players can eat at banquets? Who is making up these rules? At least Gabe Ikard and Austin Woods are taking it all in stride. Just proves how big of a joke the NCAA has become these days.

• So the NBA trade deadline came and went with barely a whimper. The Thunder did right by holding their cards and not trying to get cute by changing up what has been working great. Westbrook is back and that's all the Thunder need to make a push to the finals. Amnesty Perk? Get another shooter? Those things sound great in theory, but in reality they already have shooters and amnestying Perk obviously isn't going to happen. On the bright side? Perkins will have an expiring contract next season and likely be prime trade-bait.

• Bill Simmons ranks Kendrick Perkins as the 12th worst contract in the NBA. Hard to argue with him. One of Sam Presti's few missteps was giving Perkins a huge contract upon acquiring him from Boston. To Presti's credit, everyone thought it was a major coup for OKC at the time finally getting the allusive "big man" that had so desperately been missing. Count me among the bunch who were thrilled when the blockbuster trade went down, but there's no question I'd rather have Jeff Green back in the blue and orange instead of the broken down big man. And that $8.7 million Perkins is making this year? It makes me sick thinking of the players that could be had with that money.

• Confession: I root for the US in the Winter Olympics about as much as I root for OU women's softball. I'm definitely happy if they do well, but I don't much care to watch. Now the Summer Olympics? That's a different story.

• I always thought it was pretty hokey during a college football game when a player would be flagged for "targeting" and then instantly ejected with a 15-yard penalty tacked on. But wait, if the officials review the play and determine there was no foul then the player is not ejected, but the 15-yard penalty still stands? Looks like the NCAA realized how silly that was and is changing the rule. While I still think a first time offender being ejected is a bit harsh, at least they are amending the rule to where if it is reviewed and determined not to be a foul then the 15-yard penalty no longer stands.

• Haven't quite figured out if the OU men's basketball squad is worthwhile or not yet. College basketball has been stale for so long outside of March Madness, but a legit Sooners run in the tournament could grab my attention again. They're probably just messing with me though.

• Russell Westbrook is back and that's a good thing. Can we please stop with the ridiculous speculation about the Thunder being better off without Westbrook? Please, pretty please. Last night he looked rusty, but still explosive. There may be some growing pains in the next couple of weeks with everyone adjusting to their new places on the court, but this team is better off with #0 in the lineup.

Biggest Competition in the West for OKC

With the return of Russell Westbrook looming and the Thunder currently sitting atop the NBA standings with a record of 43-12, let's rank their biggest roadblocks in the Western Conference en route back to the NBA finals.

Continue reading Biggest Competition in the West for OKC

memphisDark Horse: Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies notoriously bounced the Thunder from the 2013 playoffs not long after Westbrook went down with his original injured knee. Despite every game being close, the Grizz "easily" knocked out OKC in five games. The Thunder are currently 2-1 in the season series vs Memphis, with the sole loss coming in an ugly 90-87 defeat in mid-January. Of course, if the playoffs were to start today then the Grizzlies would be on the outside looking in as they are currently a couple games back from the eight seed. It's not inconceivable to imagine the Grizzlies finding their way into the eight seed and taking on the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. While the Thunder would still be the heavy favorites, the Grizzlies would be anything but an easy out in the first round.


houston  #5: Houston Rockets

While the Rockets currently occupy the third seed in the West, I don't anticipate them finishing that high. Despite the off-season acquisition of Dwight Howard and all the hoopla surrounding Harden and Howard supposedly dominating the league for years to come, the results thus far have been under-whelming. At 36-17, the Rockets are obviously not a team to take for granted, but count me amongst the bunch who think of Howard as more of a team cancer than savior. The Thunder have handled the Rockets in each of their two regular season match-ups thus far and I don't see them poising much of a threat to Oklahoma City this year.


golden-state#4: Golden State Warriors

Golden State just might be the most dangerous team on this list. While they are a wildly streaky team, when they are on, they are on. The lethal sharp-shooting combination of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson is likely one of the best pure shooting duo's in the league. Not to mention the issues the Thunder have had trying to slow down the Warriors in their three meetings this season. Despite ranking as one of the top defensive teams in the league, the Thunder have given up 116, 112, and 121 points to the Warriors in their three contests. Somehow OKC managed to win two of those games anyway, but none of them came easy. The Warriors will likely enter the playoffs as one of the finals seeds, but will be a dangerous squad to any team they face.


portland#3: Portland Trailblazers

Portland has been a bit of a surprise team in the West this season. They are the only team in the league to hold multiple victories over the Thunder. Early on in the season it appeared as though the Blazers simply had OKC's number after consecutive victories. The Thunder bounced back to even up the regular series 2-2 winning their last two encounters to put a wrench in that theory. Portland currently occupies the fifth seed in the West and have cooled off a bit since their hot start, but still remain a talented bunch with lots of depth. Look for the Trailblazers to finish as one of the top four seeds in the West by the end of the regular season.


la-clippers#2: Los Angeles Clippers

The Lakers are no longer the premiere club in LA. Boy does that feel awkward to say. While the Lakers sit tied for last place in the conference, the Clippers currently sit in fourth place with a record of 37-18. The Thunder and Clippers have faced off only twice thus far with each team holding court at home. The Clippers are one of the few teams who posses a superior player at the point guard position in all-star Chris Paul. With Blake Griffin improving each year and the franchise committed to bringing in endless amounts of role players, they pose a serious threat in the Western Conference.


sa-spurs#1: San Antonio Spurs

Despite being declared "old" years ago, the core of the Spurs have kept this franchise at the top for over a decade. A day will come when Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili will fade off into the sunset of Spurs lore, but they don't seem quite ready yet. The sting of blowing the NBA finals in game six last season likely still remains at the forefront of their minds and they are no doubt set out for redemption. The Spurs and Thunder have faced off three times thus far with the Thunder taking all three contests. Make no mistake about it though, the seasoned Spurs remain the Thunder's biggest roadblock back to the finals.