Three-Point Play: Sooners, Lobos and a Kentucky-Monmouth matchup

In Big 12, MAAC, Mountain West, SEC by Ken Cross

Sooners will rejoin Big 12 fray

Although the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns were at the bottom of the Big 12 last season, it will be a short lived fate.  For the Sooners, they lost a four-year player who was the heart of the team in Jordan Woodard who went down in mid-February with an ACL tear.  They return a dynamic guard in Kameron McGusty plus a defensive stopper and leader in Kadeem Latin.  Then, a pair of versatile forwards in Rashard Odomes and Kristian Doolittle return with guard Christian James to form a sophomore-junior dominated roster.

OU signed the number four point guard in the nation, Trae Young, out of Norman.  He will fit in on the point with the loss o Woodard as he will battle senior Damion Strong-Moore and sophomore Jordan Shepard for minutes as they split time a year ago with Strong-Moore garnering the last three starts.

Weir’s hiring signals new era in Lobo hoops

Craig Neal’s tenure at New Mexico came to a halt abruptly after four years and a 50-47 ledger  in the last three.  Paul Weir comes over after one season at New Mexico State where the Aggies went 28-6, including a 22-game winning streak, a WAC Tournament title, and the team’s  and he finds pieces to make the Lobos a potential challenger despite the loss of Elijah Brown.

Watch the scoreboard and the pace in Albuquerque.  Weir turned the Aggies’ offense up this past season as they were efficient off the break and in the mid-range points of their offense.  Guard Damien Jefferson can appreciate that mid-range approach as he shot 54 percent from inside the arc a year ago.

Kentucky’s NYC presence worth the cash

Kentucky and Monmouth recently inked a deal to play in New York City as the Wildcats paid the Hawks $180,000 for the two game series.  John Calipari obviously wanted a game in New York City as it helps the Wildcats’ Atlantic and eastern recruiting efforts, but the Hawks could be more of a challenge than most may foresee.

Monmouth will be a junior dominated squad after losing four seniors, but has built enough cache in the MAAC that people on the eastern seaboard know they are a tough out every night.  Coach King Rice’s squad is another example of a team that should have gotten into the NCAA despite the loss to Siena in the MAAC semifinals last season.  They finished at 27-7 a year ago, losing the NIT opener to Ole Miss.