When Oklahoma hosts UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday in Norman, Okla., the Sooners should know full well not to take the Seahawks lightly.
The Sooners’ season started with a loss to Sam Houston and a narrow win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
During his team’s season-opening four-game stretch against mid-majors, Oklahoma coach Porter Moser was asked about how much more difficult it has become to play such programs.
“This transfer portal, I think it changes a lot of things in college basketball,” Moser said. “All of a sudden teams get some additions.”
The Seahawks certainly fit the mold of building through the transfer portal, with five offseason additions that are averaging a combined 23 points and 15 rebounds per game during the first two games of the season.
The biggest addition, so far, has been Donovan Newby, a transfer from Wisconsin-Milwaukee who has averaged 6.5 points and 2.5 rebounds for Wilmington.
Another one of those transfers, Maleeck Harden-Hayes, said the additions have helped mold the Seahawks into a strong defensive and rebounding team.
UNC-Wilmington (1-1) is outrebounding teams 79-52 through two games.
“We have a lot of guys that can play one through four, guys that can play three through five,” the North Dakota State transfer said. “Everyone’s really interchangeable, and that’s what’s important for this year. Defensively, we’re going to be a tight-knit group and able to switch one through four, help us get rebounds and push on the break.”
The Sooners (1-1) have had their success on the defensive end too, as opponents are shooting just 36.7 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Moser said his team needed to get senior Tanner Groves more involved on the offensive end.
Groves has just 10 shots and six free-throw tries so far.
“We’ve got to get him more shots,” Moser said. “That’s something that’s my job to do.”
Tuesday’s game will be the first meeting between the programs, though both coaches have experience against the opposite program.
Early in the 2017-18 season, Moser’s Loyola squad beat the Seahawks 102-78.
Wilmington coach Takayo Siddle played at Oklahoma as a player for Gardner-Webb in 2008.
–Field Level Media