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Braves basketball has big plans for improvement this season

By Joel Wright
On October 26, 2010

The OU men's and women's basketball teams are getting ready for a fresh start this year after suffering losing seasons last year.

The men's team finished 6-23 last year and was picked to finish seventh in league play in the preseason coaches' poll. However, head coach Andy Carrier said that he doesn't read into the preseason rankings.

"Preseason polls are conversation starters, but honestly I consider them meaningless," Carrier said. "We've been picked in the bottom and finished at the top, and we've been picked in the top and finished in the bottom before."

Carrier said that he thinks the team will be better this year because many players return with experience they did not have before, and new players are expected to make an impact.

"I think we are improved," he said. "We played a lot of young players last year and they're back and more experienced. We had a good recruiting class this year that gave us an influx of new talent."

The Braves early schedule will include NCAA opponents such as the University of Missouri Kansas City and Emporia State University before they get into conference play.

"Our early schedule's really tough," Carrier said. "The first 8 games are on the road. It will be fun but extremely challenging."

Carrier believes his team is one with talent, and will win games with their defense.

"I think we have a team that's going to have to be good on defense, by generating offense with our D," he said. "I think our backcourt is very deep and talented, and I think our front court is talented, but not very deep. We're going to have to handle size and get on the boards, and have up-tempo defense."

The Lady Braves finished last season with a 7-23 mark, and a second round exit in the conference playoffs. The women were picked fifth in the polls and head coach Bruce Tate said that would be an understandable assessment, but the team returns eight players and will be competing for more than fifth place.

"Some players were injured last year, and at the end of the year we got those players back, and began playing much better basketball," Tate said.

Tate said that the women began gaining confidence to compete against any team, and practically beat themselves in their final game against Kansas Weslyan. He also said to be ready to see a team that will play at a faster pace than last year.

"Potentially, the playing style that we have will be more up-tempo than in the past," he said.

Junior point guard KiKi Smith said that the team has been competing hard early in the season and is really working to improve.

"Practices are very competitive," said Smith, who led the conference in assists last year. "We're pushing each other to be that much better."

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