Sooners add depth, versatility to lineup

Tuesday, November 13th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Kelvin Sampson says this year's Oklahoma basketball team should be one in which the sum is greater than the parts. It's a line he has used often during his seven seasons at Oklahoma, although this year there's a twist.

``I think if your parts are better, your sum can be better,'' he said. ``I think that's where our ceiling is a little bit higher now.''

The Sooners went 26-7 a year ago and won the Big 12 Conference tournament without having an all-conference player. Their leading scorer was Nolan Johnson, at 13.2 points per game. Three others averaged 11 points or more.

Only two starters return _ guard Hollis Price and forward Aaron McGhee _ but Sampson's optimism stems from the athleticism and depth of this year's group.

``When you're athletic, you can create shots on your own and don't have to worry about calling so many sets and calling plays,'' he said. ``We'll play quicker. We'll get more shots up at the goal. A missed shot won't be a disaster, because we can go rebound a missed shot.''

Price is expected to lead things for Oklahoma, either as the point guard or the No. 2 guard. He averaged 11.8 points per game last season and got more playing time than any Sooner, with 33 minutes per game. He had a 2-to-1 ratio of assists to turnovers, and his 63 steals were a team high.

McGhee averaged 12.9 points per game but was inconsistent, in part because he tended to get into foul trouble. But he should have more help in the frontcourt this year.

Jabahri Brown, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Florida International, will become eligible in mid-December and is expected to make an immediate impact, particularly at the defensive end. Jozsef Szendrei, a junior college transfer who sat out last year with a knee injury, is 6-9 and 240 pounds. He will add muscle to the front line, is a strong rebounder and has more offensive skills than recent Sooner post men.

Johnnie Gilbert (6-8) and Daryan Selvy (6-6) also play in the frontcourt. Selvy's average of 5.2 rebounds per game led the team last year.

Price could be joined in the backcourt by one of his high school teammates, Quannas White, who transferred from junior college. White, at 6-1 and 190 pounds, would provide some muscle at the guard spot _ Price weighs just 165.

``Quannas won't wow you with his speed, but he's exactly what I like in a point guard,'' Sampson said. ``To me, a good point guard is like an umpire in baseball, you just don't notice 'em. You notice bad umpires. You notice bad point guards.

``He doesn't have any great strengths, but he just doesn't have any weaknesses.''

The Sooners will be rangier on the wing with the additions of Ebi Ere and Jason Detrick, both juniors and both 6-5. Ere averaged 25 points per game in junior college last season, and as a senior in high school scored 29 points per game. Detrick scored 23 points per game in junior college last year.

Price, White, Ere, Detrick and Selvy all have the ability to score off the dribble, something Sampson says is a must in today's game.

``You can't depend on your offense to get you a basket,'' he said. ``It comes down to the shot clock. You're not going to get good shots under the shot clock unless you can dribble, create, penetrate, get by your opponent and score off the dribble, and I think that's where we've improved.''

The Sooners open the regular season Nov. 12 against Central Connecticut in the Preseason NIT. The schedule includes games against Arkansas, Maryland and Connecticut.

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