When news broke that the NCAA had granted Oklahoma’s TaShawn Thomas immediate eligibility, the expectation of many was that not only would the former Houston power forward cement the Sooners’ status as a Big 12 title contender but he would also make them a team capable of reaching the Final Four. That may very well be the case, with Oklahoma putting together a solid showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis that ended with a title game loss to No. 2 Wisconsin.
But the process of fully incorporating Thomas into the offensive attack is one that’s taken some time, as he’s a piece the program hasn’t had in recent years. Thomas gives Oklahoma a player capable of scoring consistently on the low block, and it’s taken some time for the Sooner guards to get used to this according to Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World.
“Coach told me these guys never really had a big man they could throw it to,” Thomas said. “They’ve still got to get used to it. I know that’s going to take some time. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Coaches and teammates must adjust from last year. Thomas must change, too. He must be more selfish.
“There’s times where I get the ball and I think I need to shoot. And I’ll think about it and I’ll pass the ball,” he said. “Coach has been telling me to be more assertive on offense. I feel like it’s gonna start picking up.”
Through six games Oklahoma’s shooting just under 40 percent from the field and 31.2% from three, figures that do not approach the percentages the Sooners shot in 2013-14 (44.7% FG, 37.9% 3PT). Part of that is the funk some of Oklahoma’s guards have been mired in, with Buddy Hield shooting 36.7% from the field and both Frank Booker (30.3%) and Jordan Woodard (25 percent) struggling as well.
The other factor is the caliber of shot that Oklahoma is getting, as there have been times when they’ve taken challenged jumpers instead of working the ball inside. And while Thomas, by his own admission, needs to be a little more selfish in both demanding and shooting the basketball his presence can open things up for Oklahoma’s other offensive weapons.
The process of getting Thomas more involved in the offense will be something to keep an eye on as Oklahoma completes its non-conference schedule, beginning Friday night against Missouri.