Measuring up

Originally Published: January 13, 2004
By Kelvin Sampson | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's Note: Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson chronicles part of the 2003-04 campaign for ESPN.com as part of The Season: Oklahoma Basketball, presented by Capital One (ESPN2, Tuesday, 11:30 ET).

What a stretch our Oklahoma men's basketball program is in the midst of. As many of you know we played a tough game Sunday against the No. 1 team in the nation -- the UConn Huskies. It gave us a chance to see where our team stands in relation to the nation's best and what we have to do to improve our game in order to play and compete against a team that talented.

Watch The Season: Wisconsin Basketball, presented by Capital One, Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
I was not as disappointed with the fact that we lost as much as I was with the way we lost. We didn't compete the way we need to and we will address that in practice. If we get another chance to play against Connecticut come March, our players will certainly have a better understanding of their power and ability, and what it will take to compete against a team of that caliber. That was one of best teams I've seen in my 10 years at Oklahoma.

Drew Lavender scored 22 points and had seven assists for us Sunday and I am pleased with the progress he is making. A key for him, as a freshman point guard, is being able to practice with the guys who play on game day. He hasn't really been able to do that since Kevin Bookout and De'Angelo Alexander have been on the sidelines nursing injuries for most of our practices this season. Drew will continue to get better and our team will progress along with him. We just need guys to get healthy so we can get some repetition and continuity going in practice and then carry it over to our games.

We'll learn from the UConn game but we can't dwell on it since we start Big 12 Conference play on Wednesday. Over a span of six days we will face three extremely tough opponents in Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas Tech. Those three games will give us a solid indication of where we stand in the Big 12 and where we need to improve as March quickly approaches.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know the players, coaches and personnel of the men's basketball team over the past three weeks and we thank you for your continued support of the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

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