Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Oklahoma counts on its bench

The Associated Press

        NORMAN, Okla. — The biggest difference between this Oklahoma team and his previous seven, coach Kelvin Sampson says, is better players. And he's not talking only about the starters.

        In Daryan Selvy and Jason Detrick, Sampson has two reserves who allow the Sooners not to miss a beat when substitutions are made. They're two big reasons why Oklahoma is in the Final Four for the first time in 13 years. The Sooners (31-4) play Indiana on Saturday in Atlanta.

        “I can only start five guys, but I have seven who can start,” Sampson said. “Selvy and Jason are both starters, they just don't.”

        The 6-foot-6 Selvy, a senior averaging 23 minutes per game, is called upon to rebound and play defense. He also can score — he averaged 23 points per game in junior college, and has had two 18-point games this year — but Oklahoma doesn't need him to score.

        The 6-5 Detrick, a junior guard, provides a scoring punch. He is averaging 9.3 points while playing 21 minutes per game, with 17 double-figure games and a season high of 21.

        Selvy has had to make the bigger adjustment of the two. The offense ran through him at junior college. Now scoring is almost an afterthought, since the Sooners have plenty of scorers in Hollis Price, Aaron McGhee, Ebi Ere and Detrick.

        “I had to accept my role and be the rebounder in order for us to win games, and I think I've done that well since I've been here,” Selvy said.

        Sampson said Selvy played well enough last year, and worked hard enough, to earn a starting spot this season. But he also knew post player Jabahri Brown would become a starter when he became eligible in mid-December, which would result in Selvy going to the bench again.

        So he asked Selvy to accept being a reserve, and Selvy obliged.

        “Selvy is probably one of the best sixth men in the country,” Price said. “With him coming off the bench, we have so much more energy when he steps on the floor.”

        Selvy plays the small forward spot, but is the point man when the Sooners decided to trap on defense. He has been at his best during the NCAA tournament, scoring 13 points against Illinois-Chicago and nine rebounds in a second-round victory over Xavier.

        In the West Regional semifinals against Arizona, Selvy scored 15 points and helped shut down Luke Walton.

        Sampson calls Selvy “my security blanket” and praises his flexibility.

        “He always changes the game, and I've learned how to use him better as the season progressed,” Sampson said. “For him to accept this role and still be one of our hardest workers in practice I think says volumes about his attitude.”

        Sampson occasionally looks farther down the bench during games, using burly Jozsef Szendrei to spell McGhee or Brown and Blake Johnston to relieve Quannas White at point guard. But Selvy and Detrick are always first in line.

        “When you think of a guy coming off the bench, how many guys do you have who can go in the game and make you better?” Sampson said. “Daryan Selvy can do that. Jason Detrick can do that.”


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