But as we’ve seen so many times, one star cannot make a team. Ferguson doesn’t contribute on vault, and that piece could turn out to be a problem for Oklahoma, with three or four routines to replace from a lineup last year that wasn’t going to compete with UCLA, Alabama, or Florida anyway. One of the major concerns on vault is the frequency of Yurchenko halfs we’ve seen from this team. While the blind landing makes it difficult (and difficult to score well), it’s still considered a bit of a soft 10, and it doesn’t necessarily stack up against schools that are performing one or more Yurchenko 1.5s. If you’ve just watched a Yurchenko 1.5 from Kytra Hunter, Georgia Dabritz, or Kayla Williams (or seen something from Zamarripa’s stable of phenomenal vaults), you’re not going to be that impressed by Madison Mooring’s Yurchenko half, even if it’s clean. Oklahoma’s vaults could give them too many 9.825s in that lineup.
Interestingly enough, even though Kelley was the anchor, beam still looks to be Oklahoma’s strongest event in 2012. They were far and away the best beam team in 2011, and that was just as much due to confident performances from Ferguson and the rest of the lineup (Nowak, Spears, Mooring, and Ratcliff) as it was to Kelley’s scoring. Kayla Nowak in particular will be necessary as a solid early lineup gymnast on that event to give the team that base 9.800-9.850 (in addition to her anchor position on floor).
Oklahoma is a bit lucky in that they did not lose any hugely influential seniors after last year, so they did not enter this season with too many holes that the freshmen were expected to fill aside from solidifying that vault lineup. That means that if they can find the routines (likely a combination of gymnasts rather than a single star) to account for Kelley’s scores, they may be able to keep pace with the scoring potential from last year. This will likely come from some lineup experimentation, meaning that the notable freshmen, Rebecca Clark and Erica Brewer, will be given a prime opportunity to prove their worth to the team.
It’s certainly going to be a challenge for Oklahoma in 2012. The injury to Kelley has put them in the same position as teams like Michigan, who have to focus on replacing lost scores instead of gaining new, better ones. Oklahoma does have significantly more depth than Michigan, which should help them have a much stronger result in 2012, but they will have to get ideal performances from all their remaining gymnasts. Even if that happens, without enough significant names of note, it will be extremely difficult for them to crack the top 3. While things can always change, it seems that those top 3 teams are just too deep and talented. One of the most interesting storylines for 2012, though, could be the fight for that 4th place, and Oklahoma is still right in that race.
5 thoughts on “#4 Oklahoma Preview”
UCLA and Alabama last year were far deeper teams than Oklahoma looks this year. Comparing the loss of Kelley to the loss of Zamarripa or Priess seems to be diminishing the impact.
I would think it would be more analogous to Utah losing Kyndal Robarts last year, it is going to effect OU's final team score.
Unless of course some of the Sooner youngsters really surprise us.
I think OU's biggest barrier besides losing Kelley could be their lack of FX difficulty. In order to get the 9.9s and especially the 9.925s and 9.95s in the post season, a team really needs to have multiple girls opening with Es or difficult combinations (see Sam P. this year) and ending with Ds, and preferably not rudis, but double backs or 2.5 twists. I think it will be important this year because UF, Bama, and UCLA will likely be throwing tons of difficulty on FX.
Following up that thought about OU's relatively weak FX tumbling: It is not just that 3 schools starting the season ahead of OU in the Coaches poll that have that advantage.
Based on preseason vids, teams ranked behind OU like Utah, Nebraska, and Arkansas will also be throwing significantly more tumbling difficulty.
Oklahoma is actually the “top-10” team that has to “finesse” scores and win w/ consistency rather than “big tricks.”
That's a great point about the floor difficulty. It certainly gives them less room for error than some of the other teams. They have to be exceptionally clean in order to finesse those needed scores.
So are you saying more difficulty means more tolerance for mistakes? In the elite scoring system that might be true where it's all about the start value. But in the NCAA, everyone starts from a 10. A “D” element is a “D” element whether it's a rudi, a 2/1 tuck, or a 2 1/2. There are no rules classifying “D” elements. Answer this question….If someone performs a 2/1 layout with bent and or seperated legs, is that better than a huge 2/1 pike with flawless form?
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