Saturday, January 26, 2013

OU’s Romero Osby: Pump-fakes had no effect on Jeff Withey

Kansas center Jeff Withey extends to defend against a shot from Oklahoma forward Romero Osby during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey extends to defend against a shot from Oklahoma forward Romero Osby during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.


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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over Oklahoma

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 67-54 win over Oklahoma on Jan. 26, 2013.

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Box score


Every day in practice, Oklahoma senior forward Romero Osby works on his pump-fakes.

The OU coaches stress their importance. The goal is simple: Get your defender in the air, make him make contact and get to the free-throw line.

The strategy has served Osby well so far this season. Entering Saturday, his 100 free-throw attempts were third in the Big 12 and also in the top 150 nationally.

So it was no wonder that the 6-foot-8 forward could only shake his head in frustration following Kansas’ 67-54 victory over OU.

Those dekes — the ones he works on every day — had no chance against KU center Jeff Withey.

“He makes it really tough, especially going to the basket,” said Osby, who attempted just four free throws against KU. “You try to get him off the floor with your pump-fakes, and he just stays down, stays down. Like I said, he has good timing. He has a knack for it.”

Withey made it especially tough on Osby, who had made at least half of his shots in each of his last 10 games.

Osby didn’t come close to that Saturday, posting 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting. The 16 field-goal attempts were a season-high, though even with that many shots, he wasn't near his 19.2-point-per-game output in Big 12 play.

“(Withey) always bothers people,” Osby said, “but I think I kind of let it get in my head a little bit that I had missed a couple shots.”

OU coach Lon Kruger described it as Withey playing “on the fringe.” The KU senior would back off Osby just enough to make it seem like there was enough room to shoot.

Osby said he never was sure that he had enough space, wondering if Withey’s long wingspan and quick closeout might result in another blocked shot.

“It’s just the fact that he’s backing up off me a little bit, using his length,” Osby said of the big man getting in his head. “I wanted to shoot the jumper, but I had missed a couple in a row. That’s got to just be me. I’ve just got to get in the gym and put up more shots and get that confidence.”

Withey seemed to affect the entire OU offense. The Sooners’ 54 points were their second-lowest total this season.

“They’ve got a lot of guys on the perimeter that guard the ball very well, and Withey changes everything on the interior and does a terrific job,” Kruger said. “I thought he really set the tone early in the ballgame. We just never did get any flow offensively.”

OU also posted its lowest halftime score (21 points) since the 2010-11 season.

With Withey guarding the paint, the box score showed that the Sooners finished just 6-for-14 on layups and dunks (43 percent).

“He’s a unique player, not only in our league, but in college basketball in terms of ... you don’t play against those types of players very often,” Kruger said. “He erases any mistakes on the perimeter, plus he guards his own guy inside. He not only blocks a lot of shots but changes a lot of shots and does that to a lot of people.”


William Blake 6 years, 10 months ago

I like to hear how teams strategize to take it right to Jeff. They think they have to get him in foul trouble. By taking a strategy like this it takes them out of their normal offense. Even if they were to get Jeff in foul trouble, then they have to execute a strategy with him on the bench. So opposing coaches prepare for us by working on plays to get Jeff to foul, then have to work on plays that will work with Jeff out. How do you prepare for this in just a few days before playing us? Sounds confusing and disjointed.

It seems smarter to go with your strengths and make a few tweaks called for by scouting reports. The "get Jeff in foul trouble" strategy is obvious desperation.

I thought K-State prepared a fairly effective strategy of working for mid-range scoring and then popping out McGruder to do his thing. They just missed some pretty open shots, especially from trey.

Jim Roth 6 years, 10 months ago

Withey hasn't had more than 3 fouls in any game this year; you're right, that strategy of getting him in foul trouble is doomed to fail. I like Kruger's description of Withey "playing on the fringe". It's brilliant.

mae 6 years, 10 months ago

He may not be a strong banger inside, but the man can finesse like noone else. Both in defense and offense. I watched him at Arizona and wished we would've got him. Imagine what the extra years with Danny and Hudy would've done. He's definitely NBA but not a dominant center yet.

AirCapJay 6 years, 10 months ago

We will get beat by a team that can drop their 3's, just like has happened in that past by some mid-majors we have faced in the tournament.

Jim Roth 6 years, 10 months ago

That made our 1988 win oh so much sweeter. Classic good vs evil tale.

Michael Gentemann 6 years, 10 months ago

Like him or not, Billy Tubbs was good for the old Big 8. He helped bring the old league out of the dark ages of deliberate slow down half court basketball. I was there when OU cut down our nets in 1984 so I too hold on to a bit of animosity but he was a staunch supporter of the conference. Always good for a quote, Billy's best may have been when he said he would watch Big East basketball games when he was having trouble falling asleep or that he could assemble a Big 8 all-star squad and whip any other conference squad. Of course it didn't hurt that the Big 8 had Manning, Richmond, Chievous, Grayer and Blaylock at the time.

mejayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

I hope teams keep trying to take it at Jeff. His vertical jumping will ensure that those attempts at drawing fouls will turn into highlight-reel fast breaks on the other end.

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