The learning process is about to accelerate for new Oklahoma coach Porter Moser.
“For me, being the first year, there’s a lot of unknowns,” Moser said as the Sooners prepare to open the season at home against Northwestern State on Tuesday. “You think you know based on practice and what they’re doing, but once the games get going, you really start learning a lot about your team.”
Moser takes over Oklahoma after a decade at Loyola-Chicago, a stint that included a 2018 Final Four run and last season’s Sweet 16 appearance.
He took over for Lon Kruger, who retired after a decade with the Sooners, 35 total seasons as a college head coach and three more in the NBA.
The Sooners return five players from last season’s 16-11 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Moser rebuilt the roster with a large group of transfers, including Jordan Goldwire (Duke), Ethan Chargois (SMU), Marvin Johnson (Eastern Illinois) and brothers Tanner and Jacob Groves (Eastern Washington).
While Moser is just getting started at Oklahoma, his counterpart in Tuesday’s opener is one of the longest-tenured coaches in the sport.
Northwestern State’s Mike McConathy begins his 23rd season at the school.
The Demons are coming off an 11-18 season and last finished above .500 in 2014-15.
Tuesday’s opener is the first of four nonconference games Northwestern State will play against teams that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago — all on the road. Two of those are against Final Four teams Baylor and Houston.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to the players,” McConathy said. “We’ll employ our system and they’ll employ their system, and we’ll go out and be competitive.”
The Demons return two starters from last year’s team, including 6-foot-7 senior center Larry Owens, who has started 59 games in his career and scored 16 points against Oklahoma as a freshman in 2017.
The Sooners have won all seven meetings between the programs, with the last being that game on Dec. 19, 2017, when current Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young tied an NCAA record with 22 assists in a 105-68 Oklahoma win.
–Field Level Media