Alex Brown: 30 years of athletic care for the Sooners

    OU athletic trainer Alex Brown has been to three Final Fours with the Sooners.
    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    Alex Brown is in his 30th year as an athletic trainer at Oklahoma, and don’t dare ask him to rank his most memorable moments with the men’s basketball program. Such determinations are difficult when you have worked with three Final Four teams, three national players of the year, eight All-Americans and advanced to 21 NCAA Tournaments.

    “All my favorite moments usually are road wins, but NCAA Tournament wins are always special,” Brown admitted. “Just going to the NCAA Tournament is special. My favorite day of the year is Selection Sunday.”

    Brown also doesn’t share locker room banter, which falls under privileged information. “Hey, I can’t tell everything,” Brown said with a laugh before adding, “You’ll have to wait for my book.”

    Nor should you ask Brown to reveal his most challenging moments as an athletic trainer. “There’s too many to mention,” Brown said.

    The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects an individual’s health records and information, but many medical moments happen in plain sight and the Sooners have endured some doozies:

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    Black History Month: OU volleyball player Patrice Arrington

    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    Feb. 28, 2017

    Former Oklahoma volleyball coach Miles Pabst was so impressed with Patrice Arrington, he often repeats himself while reminiscing about the school’s first-ever All-American selection in the sport.

    Pabst’s thoughts when he first saw Arrington play: “Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness,” Pabst said.

    The way to best describe Arrington’s skills: “Ha, ha. She was an exceptional, exceptional athlete,” Pabst said.

    Arrington’s greatest strength as a player: “She had tremendous, tremendous power,” Pabst said.

    Arrington’s personal attributes: “She’s just a wonderful, wonderful person,” Pabst said.

    After heaping more praise on Arrington, Pabst delivered an unsolicited punch line: “If Patrice had been born of the male species, she would have been another Adrian Peterson.”

    Suffice to say, consider Pabst impressed.

    After hearing Pabst’s remarks, a stunned Arrington laughed for several seconds.

    “That is hilarious,” Arrington said.

    The affable Arrington has heard a healthy portion of praise throughout the years, but the Adrian Peterson comparison was a doozy. “I guess people have called me a freak of nature athletically,” Arrington admitted shyly. “I probably got if from my dad (Percy). He played every sport. He excelled in everything. He’s 78 years old. Still playing tennis. Still doing stuff. So I guess I was born with it.”

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    Kruger dominates alma mater for career win No. 600

    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    Feb. 25, 2017

    With Oklahoma’s 81-51 triumph over Kansas State on Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center, Lon Kruger picked up his 600th career victory as an NCAA Division I basketball coach.

    Coincidentally, he achieved the milestone against the school where he previously excelled as an athlete and coach.

    And like the 599 wins that came before, Kruger deflected attention away from himself while being careful to include everyone who helped make his achievement possible.

    “It’s been a fun ride,” Kruger said of his journey to No. 600. “It’s been great, all the relationships and all the people you’ve met and worked with. And the players, of course, are at the heart of all of it. That’s why any of those wins come about.”

    Kruger has served at six different colleges – Texas-Pan American (1982-86), Kansas State (1986-90), Florida (1990-96), Illinois (1996-2000), UNLV (2004-11) and Oklahoma (2011-present). He is the first head coach to take five different Division I schools to the NCAA Tournament (Pan American being the exception); all five of those schools made multiple appearances; all five had at least one tournament win; four advanced to the Sweet 16 (Illinois being the exception); and he made it to the Final Four with Florida in 1994 and with OU last season.

    Few coaches have done as much re-construction work as Kruger. At each collegiate stop, he inherited a program that had struggled the year before, sometimes woefully. Schools where he took the reins were a combined 78-99 (.440) the season prior to his arrival and no program was coming off a winning season in conference play with a combined league record of 26-54 (.325).

    Did any relocation project seem more challenging, frustrating, exasperating and/or disappointing than the others?

    “All the situations are unique one way or another, of course,” Kruger said. “In terms of our approach, we’ve approached them all the same. It’s always about people. It’s always about relationships. It’s always about recruiting, finding the right fit in those situations. It’s always a bit different at each place, but it’s always comes down to people, for sure.”

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    OU's long road to the Women's Final Four could be a short trip

    Photo by Ty Russell
    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    Feb. 25, 2017

    Reaching this year’s Final Four would be a lengthy journey in terms of achievement for the Oklahoma women’s basketball team, but it could end up being a ridiculously short trek in terms of actual miles traveled.

    • Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City (March 3-6) – 23.7 miles
    • Possible NCAA First/Second Round at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman (March 17-20) – 0 miles
    • Possible NCAA Regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena (March 24-26) – 23.7 miles
    • NCAA Final Four at American Airlines Center in Dallas (March 31 and April 2) – 187.0 miles.

    On the four most important weekends of the season, if everything falls into place, OU’s road to the 2017 Final Four would require traveling just 234.4 total miles (one-way).

    First and second round sites won’t be revealed until the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Selection Show airs at 6 p.m. on March 13, but all other locales were determined long before the 2016-17 season commenced.

    The Sooners knew precisely where their postseason schedule potentially could take them. Head coach Sherri Coale didn’t need to draw it up on a dry erase board. No need for Google Maps.

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    The Story Continues for Oklahoma in 2017

    oklahoma softball champions
    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    Feb. 07, 2017

    It’s not where you start but where you finish that counts. For this year’s Oklahoma softball team, it will be about both.

    Last year’s Sooners began with somewhat modest expectations and promptly were humbled with an 0-2 start on opening day. Steadily they climbed from a season-low No. 14 national ranking and finished at No. 1 by winning 57 of their final 63 games to claim the program’s third NCAA Championship.

    This year’s Sooners have the formidable task of finishing the season precisely where they started.

    The defending champs are a unanimous pick at No. 1 in this year’s NFCA and USA Collegiate Softball preseason polls, marking only the fourth time in the 23-year history of the NFCA poll a team was a unanimous preseason pick at No. 1 – joining Arizona (1998), Washington (2010) and Arizona State (2012).

    Somewhat shockingly, it also marks the first time in OU’s storied history it has been placed atop a national preseason poll, having previously topped out at No. 2 prior to the 2002, 2013 and 2014 seasons.

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    OU hoops focusing on progress

    Oklahoma Sooners basketball

     

    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    Jan. 20, 2017

    Judging from the reaction inside the locker room following Wednesday night’s game at West Virginia, you would have thought the Oklahoma men’s basketball team had just advanced to its second straight Final Four.

    The program’s Twitter account (@OU_MBBall) shared 77 seconds of the postgame celebration after the Sooners stunned the No. 7-ranked Mountaineers 89-87 in overtime before a silenced crowd of 11,895 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.

    “Those spontaneous celebrations, it’s hard to put a value on those,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “When your guys get a chance to do that, you never cut those short. That was pretty special.”

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    Gasso Family Reunion A No-Brainer

    Gasso Oklahoma Sooners Softball

    BY JOHN ROHDE

    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    Feb. 10, 2016

    Shortly after winning the 2000 NCAA championship, members of the Oklahoma softball team gathered for a photo near home plate at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. To the far right stood 9-year-old JT Gasso and younger brother DJ, both their faces painted crimson and cream. They are the sons of coach Patty Gasso, who had just led OU to the school’s first-ever national team championship in any women’s sport.

    In 2013, JT again posed with the NCAA champion Sooners, this time as one of the team's graduate assistants. After leaving for two seasons to expand his coaching skills, JT has returned to the Sooners as a full-time assistant coach and will make his debut in Friday’s season opener against Minnesota at the Sportco Kick Off Classic in Las Vegas. His primary responsibilities focus on the outfielders and offense.

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    Lon Kruger: Man of the People, For the People

    Lon Kruger Oklahoma Sooners Sports
    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    Sept. 07, 2015

    The annual Sooner Basketball Family Weekend was the creation of Oklahoma men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger. Although it’s his show, he is not the show.

    This was easily evident last Saturday afternoon while Team Crimson was in the process of defeating Team Cream 84-79 in the fifth annual Legends Alumni Game at Lloyd Noble Center. With roughly 1,500 fans in the stands and 145 former players, coaches, managers, trainers, et al, in attendance, Kruger quietly observed from a chair while hiding in the south tunnel.

    “What head coach of any Division I program in America wouldn’t be sitting front and center?” asked OU Regent Renzi Stone, who played center for the Sooners from 1997-2000. “Instead, he’s sitting in the tunnel, behind the scenes, letting everybody else have their moment. He’s just remarkable. College coaching might be the most screwed up profession there is, especially in basketball. It’s just such a narcissistic profession and Lon is the anti-narcissist. With him there’s nothing but humble leadership, Christian values. He’s competitive without losing track of what’s important.”

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    Kolbey Carpenter: Jack of All Trades

    Kolbey Carpenter OU Baseball Standout

    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    April 16, 2015

    Oklahoma junior Kolbey Carpenter never has been one to say much. Just give him a position on the baseball field and a spot in the batting order and he’ll handle it from there.

    “He’s a very serious kid. Very quiet,” Sooners second-year coach Pete Hughes said of Carpenter. “He goes about his business in a quiet way.”

    Carpenter has been somewhat of a gypsy since arriving at OU. He has started at five different positions and also been used at designated hitter. His 114 career starts (though April 12) have come at first base (35 times), DH (34), second base (32), third base (seven), left field (five) and right field (one).

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    OU Men's Gymnastics Sets a High Bar

    Sooners Gymnastics Coach Mark Williams

    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    April 6, 2015

    Seems like everybody inside state lines knows Oklahoma football has won seven national championships, and most can recite the season each occurred – 1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985 and 2000.

    Nary a soul is aware OU men’s gymnastics has one more national crown than football – 1977, 1978, 1991, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008.

    Sooners coach Mark Williams arrived on campus in 1988, first serving as an assistant for 12 seasons under coach Greg Buwick before taking the reins in 2000. With Williams in command, OU gymnasts have placed in the top three nationally every year except his first season, when they placed fourth.

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    OU Women Gymnasts Want The LNC To Rock

    Oklahoma University Womens Gymnastics

    BY JOHN ROHDE
    SoonerSports.com Contributor

    March 5, 2015

    There were a multitude of firsts for the Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team last season.

    The program won its first NCAA title, and did so while breaking the championship scoring record, which resulted in the sport’s first-ever co-championship.

    The Sooners and Florida Gators both claimed the crown after each posted a record 198.175 points at the Super Six in Birmingham, Ala. After a few minutes of limbo standing near the awards podium, the victors eventually learned there was no tiebreaking procedure and the title would be shared.

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    Back to the Future II

    Bob Stoops Oklahoma Sooners Sports
    By John Rohde // Sooner Sports
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    MARCH 04, 2015

    Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops took a step back to the future in January when he hired Lincoln Riley as his new offensive coordinator.
    Stoops then reinvented a previously successful mixture to fill out the rest of his staff.

    Stoops’ first staff was a combination of family, his alma mater (the University of Iowa), a crew that helped Kansas State rise from the ashes, some homegrown Oklahoma talent, a Texas import, a dash of NFL experience and a whiz kid calling offensive plays.

    Stoops’ 17th staff at Oklahoma also includes similar ingredients: family, his alma mater, a crew that helped Texas Tech become one of the nation’s premier offenses, the same homegrown talent, a Texas import, a dash of NFL experience and a whiz kid calling offensive plays.

    Don’t call it a comeback. Consider it a sequel!

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    Khadeem Lattin: Basketball Is In His Blood

    Khadeem Lattin Sooner BasketballBy John Rohde
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    FEBRUARY 17, 2015

    If Oklahoma true freshman forward Khadeem Lattin feels the pressure of his family lineage, he certainly hides it well with his quick smile and articulate manner. That’s no easy task when your basketball bloodline flowed through two trailblazing moments
    Khadeem’s grandfather is David “Big Daddy” Lattin, who was in Texas Western College’s (renamed UTEP) all-black starting lineup coached by Enid native Don Haskins that claimed the 1966 NCAA championship against Kentucky’s all-white starting lineup coached by Adolph Rupp. The historic achievement was portrayed in the 2006 Disney film “Glory Road.”

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    Softball Seniors In A Class of Their Own

    Oklahoma University Womens Softball ChampionsBy John Rohde
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    FEBRUARY 03, 2015

    All five seniors on this year’s Oklahoma softball roster stand side-by-side on the 2015 team poster. They are stone-faced, because that’s how athletes are asked to pose these days, but deep inside they must be smiling.

    Lauren Chamberlain, Shelby Pendley, Georgia Casey, Callie Parsons and Jessica Vest recently autographed posters for fans prior to a women’s basketball game at Lloyd Noble Center. The team schedule is listed on the bottom of the poster. Above that are four team pictures of various championships OU has won since 2012. Four factoids flanked on each side of the heading “A Class Of Their Own” suddenly captured Casey’s attention.

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    Bob Stoops Goes Back To The Future With Lincoln Riley

    Lincoln Riley Oklahoma Sooner Sports

    By John Rohde // Sooner Sports
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    JANUARY 18, 2015

    When Lincoln Riley looked at his cell phone and saw it was Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops calling, he quickly answered.

    “When that name pops up on your phone, you answer that call,” Riley explained with a smile.

    When Stoops later offered Riley the job as OU’s new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Riley answered even more quickly.

    “It took me probably about one second,” Riley said of deciding to accept.

    In hiring the 31-year-old Riley, Stoops has gone full-circle since taking over the Sooners 16 seasons ago.

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    Isaiah Cousins: A New York State of Mind

    Isaiah Cousins Oklahoma SoonerBy John Rohde
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    JANUARY 16, 2015

    Isaiah Cousins traveled 1,500 miles to play basketball for the Oklahoma Sooners and when he arrived three years ago as a freshman, his new teammates quickly noticed he wasn’t from around these parts.

    Every ounce of Cousins screamed East Coast hoops. His voice, his confidence, his attitude, his body language. His game always was in attack mode, and no one was going to convince him to do otherwise. Such traits tend to reveal themselves when you’re born and raised in Mount Vernon, N.Y., located roughly 10 miles north of the Bronx in New York City.

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    Samaje Perine: The Humble Beast

    Samaje Perine Oklahoma Sooners Football By John Rohde // SoonerSports.com

    Oklahoma true freshman running back Samaje Perine arrived on campus six months ago with a magnetism rarely found in anyone, let alone someone 18 years old.

    As a person, Perine is humble, polite, intelligent, gracious, poised and mature. He is all these things, not only beyond his years but also beyond anyone’s comprehension.

    As a football player, Perine is a relentless combination of astounding power and sneaky speed. He is a locomotive at the line of scrimmage who becomes a runaway train in the open field. He is a 5-foot-11, 243-pound wrecking ball with feet. This did not come by accident. Perine claims there are times he would rather work out in the weight room than play in a game. He studies footage of opposing defenses and also of himself, looking for weaknesses in both. He does all this without saying a word, nary a peep.

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    Sooner Schooner Celebrates 50th Anniversary

    Sooner Celebrates 50th AnniversaryBy John Rohde // SoonerSports.com
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    November 20, 2014

    The sight of the Sooner Schooner rolling across Owen Field has become one of college football’s most recognizable traditions. This is partly due to its uniqueness, but primarily due to its frequency. The schooner emerges from the northeast tunnel of Memorial Stadium every time the Oklahoma Sooners score, which has happened plenty these past 50 years.

    The process began slowly, however. In the schooner’s first-ever appearance, the OU football team was unable to circle its wagon nearly enough as Southern California posted a convincing 40-14 victory on Sept. 26, 1964.

    A sellout crowd of 61,700 watched the debut of two white Shetland ponies pulling a small red and white covered wagon. Back then,

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    Stacey Dales Rises To The Rafters

    Stacey Dales Oklahoma Basketball By John Rohde // SoonerSports.com

    Stacey Dales was a superb high school athlete tucked away in Canada. Though soccer was her first love and she excelled in track and field and volleyball, Dales wanted to pursue basketball because it offered the greatest opportunity. She had all but decided to play college ball for Syracuse, which had been flirting with Dales since she was in ninth grade and was only a two-hour drive from her hometown of Brockville, Ontario.

    Then Oklahoma came calling.

    Trouble was, Dales had no idea where Oklahoma was located.

    “She literally had to get a globe off her shelf to find where Oklahoma was,” Sooners women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale recalled with a laugh.

    In fairness, the Sooners initially had no idea Stacey Dales existed, either.

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    ‘Superman’ Play Tops OU-Texas Rivalry In Bob Stoops Era

    Sooners Roy Williams - Article by John Rohde By John Rohde // SoonerSports.com

    From the jump, let it be understood the name “Superman” was designated for the play itself, not for the man who made the play. No matter, because in the eyes of many Oklahoma football fans, former Sooners uber defender Roy Williams often was Superman.

    There have been many great plays in the Oklahoma-Texas series at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas during the Bob Stoops era, which began in 1999. None was greater than when Superman took flight on Oct. 6, 2001, when No. 3-ranked Oklahoma held a 7-3 lead over No. 5-ranked Texas with 2:06 remaining in the game.

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    Madison Ward: Music in Her Soul

    Madison Ward Oklahoma City Volleyball

    By John Rohde // SoonerSports.com
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    SEPTEMBER 09, 2014

    Music engulfed Madison Ward’s life long before sports did. She was singing before she could speak full sentences. Her parents occasionally would coax their youngest daughter to stand in front of the fireplace and “show us what you’ve got.”

    Once upon a time, Ward thought, “When I’m 15 or 16, I’m going to go on American Idol.” Her mother, Jennifer, had different plans, however.

    “I think she has bigger things to do than American Idol,” Jennifer said. “I’m not talking about fame or anything like that. I think Madison has a gift that God has given her and I think it’s going to be used tremendously. She’s got a huge light and I think American Idol is small compared to what she’s got.”

    Ward’s light now shines brightly on the Oklahoma volleyball team, for which her athletic alter-ego is beginning to blossom.

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    The Summer of 'Buddy Love'

    Buddy Hield and Kevin Durant Sooner News
    By John Rohde // SoonerSports.com
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    AUGUST 28, 2014

    Oklahoma junior shooting guard Buddy Hield has attended a few OKC Thunder games the last two seasons. He has marveled up close at the remarkable skills of four-time NBA scoring champ and 2013-14 Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant, who not only has captivated the state of Oklahoma but the entire basketball world.

    It is impossible to not notice Durant, but what Hield didn't know is that Durant had noticed him, too.

    Last April, Hield received an electronic invitation letter that arrived on a flash drive in the shape of a 2½-inch gold Nike basketball shoe. Recognized as one of the nation's top college wing players, Hield had been selected to participate in Durant's Skills Academy in Washington, D.C. (June 27-29).

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    Oil and OU Football Do Mix for Sam Grant

    Sam Grant Sooners FootballBy John Rohde // SoonerSports.com
    By Athletics Communications
    University of Oklahoma

    August 18, 2014

    According to the NCAA, only 1.7 percent of college football players go on to play professionally.

    According to the University of Oklahoma, 100 percent of its students with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering are offered a job upon graduation.

    Offensive tackle Sam Grant is smart enough to play the percentages, which you might expect from a kid fond of math.

    A redshirt sophomore from North Royalton, Ohio, Grant arrived as a tight end known for his blocking skills as much as his pass-catching, with 88 pancake blocks his junior season. While moving one step toward the middle of the field from tight end to tackle, Grant spent his first two seasons with the Sooners packing on the pounds while pounding the books.

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