Two years ago, Oklahoma made the Final Four for the first time since 2002. Last year, the Sooners had the least number of wins since Billy Tubbs’ first season in 1980-1981. It’s odd that a program can go from one extreme to the other, and it is odd for a player to be a part of it. For junior forward Rashard Odomes, it is something he’ll always be able to talk about.
“I said before, I might have been on the best team and the worst team here. I always make that joke,” Odomes laughed and said. “But no, it’s been a nice experience, ya know. Just being able to see both different viewpoints. Just having that experience, it just makes everyone better.”
Odomes flashed his scoring potential last year scoring in double-digits 17 times, but it took time this season for him to get going. The junior had not scored in double-digits until 12 games into the season, and he has scored over 10 points in four of the nine games since.
He had not shown an ability to hit 3-point shots consistently until recently, and teams were sticking his defender as far as in the lane when he had the ball. It’s a unique position to be in as Odomes would be wide open on the 3-point line when the ball was passed to him. Against Baylor just over a week ago, he was 2-of-3 from behind the 3-point line, and teams have started to respect his shot more.
“They keep trying to throw some different stuff at me. They send them in the lane sometimes, give me a post player,” Odomes said smiling. “It seems like they are starting to respect me a little bit more, but I’m not looking for a respect. I don’t need it, I’m going to play the same each game.”
By bringing defenders out from the lane, he has been able to show his true strength: attacking the rim.
“It don’t matter. Like I said, it’s going to be hard for them to try and come out and contest that. So, ya know, I feel like I have a quick first step to where it’s going to be hard to stay in front of me. So…I like it”
The road struggles as of late for Oklahoma have been well documented. On their five-game road skid, they have shot under 45 percent as a team (they shoot 48 percent as a team on the season) in four of their five losses. The Sooners held second half leads against Oklahoma State and Texas during this stretch, too. Hilton Magic is unforgiving, and Odomes knows that. He has not experienced a win in Ames, Iowa yet, and their fight will be the biggest key for the Sooners to leave with a win this time around.
“Ya know, we’re just having a few mistakes here and there that we need to correct. We’re letting teams go on runs, and ya know, teams are just feeding off that home-court energy,” He said. “We need to know that the game is going to be a game of runs. We can’t get down if they go up 10, or get too comfortable if we get up 10. It’s always a game of runs, so we just got to know how to keep fighting.”
With a stretch like this, one would expect a team to become tight and lose confidence even on the practice court. But with a coach like Lon Kruger, Odomes says that nothing has changed.
“Just keeping our composure, ya know. Knowing what we need to do to turn it around,” He said about their rough patch. “Like I always said, Kruger’s always the same no matter what with wins and losses, he always has the same attitude and he believes in us.
“So, he puts that confidence in us. We’re still confident with what we can do. We’re not worried about what everyone else is sayin’. So, we control our destiny at this point. As long as we take care of the games we need to take care of, we’ll be good.”
With his recent offensive surge to go along with his tough man-to-man defense, Odomes’ play and experience will loom large inside Hilton Coliseum on Saturday…and will the rest of the season.