Matt: What have emerged as OU's big strengths and weaknesses as the season has developed so far?
Rich: The most obvious strength has been a balanced offense with the ability to score from inside and out. Before the addition of TaShawn Thomas, the Sooners relied heavily upon the play of the guards in order to secure a win. Secondly, the defense continues to improve providing yet another strength of this squad. A year ago, Oklahoma depended on their ability to outscore opponents in order to win. Now, OU can force a few stops, get out in transition, and put opponents in a deficit quickly. Lastly, although the bigs are undersized, the post players have a knack for rebounding the ball efficiently.
In terms of weaknesses, the Sooners tend to settle for shots when trailing. It showed against Kansas State and can easily make an appearance once again. Let's just hope OU doesn't shoot 30+ shots from behind the arc like they have already done once this season.
Matt: OU followed up an enormous win against Texas with a kind of head scratching loss to a floundering K-State team. Are you worried that this team might play up and down to the competition or is that loss a testament to the overall strength of the Big 12 this season?
Rich: I tend to think the loss to Kansas State is a testament to the strength of conference. The Wildcats are an underrated team due to unexplained losses. But, when Marcus Foster plays well, the group has the ability to compete and come out on top.
In retrospect, Oklahoma failed to move the ball around consistently leading to poor shot selection. Credit KSU for pulling the Sooners out of their comfort zone. Needless to say, "hero ball" took over as one player jacked up a 3-ball to attempt to get back into the game and win the crowd over.
Matt: WVU is going to press the absolute hell out of you for 40 minutes. Have you guys really faced anything like that this season and are you confident in your ability to break the press?
Rich: You can bet Lon Kruger directed practices toward the press break. Oklahoma has proven they can beat the press from time to time but for 40 minutes of play, that may be asking quite a bit. Consider this, the coaching staff has whittled the rotation down to seven players. If those players get winded the coaches will be forced to turn to inexperience which could prove catastrophic for OU.
West Virginia displays a very good product on the hardwood and Morgantown proves to be a tough place to play for road teams. If that doesn't scare any opponent enough, the press can ensure any sense of security vanishes.
Matt: It's hard to call a game this early in the conference slate a must-win, but it's pretty damn important nonetheless. How do you see this one shaking out?
Rich: I see this one being too close for comfort with more than a handful of lead changes. Unfortunately, Oklahoma loses in the closing minutes 67-72 and must wait to exact revenge at a later date.
Matt: (Bonus) Who wins in a fight between Iron Man and Batman?
Rich: I'll take Batman in this argument. It comes down to calculated risks versus carelessness to decided a one-on-one battle.
Author's Note: Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are tied 1-1 thus far
Thanks again to Rich for the insights. Be sure to follow him on Twitter