Thursday, November 11, 2004
Oral Roberts hoping for first NCAA tournament berth in two decades
TULSA, Okla. -- For Caleb Green, the thought of Oral Roberts
in the NCAA tournament could only have been a dream before now. The
19-year-old wasn't even born the last time the school made it to
But thanks to Green and fellow sophomore sensation Ken Tutt, the
dream might not be so far from a reality.
The Golden Eagles find themselves as the preseason favorite to
win the Mid-Continent Conference and the thoughts of playing on
college basketball's biggest stage are already dancing in their
"It's fun to dream about it," Green said Thursday at the
team's annual preseason media day.
To get to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1984, the
Golden Eagles would almost certainly have to win the Mid-Continent
Conference -- a goal the team's players say they'll be highly
disappointed if they don't achieve.
The Golden Eagles return young talent in Green and Tutt, the
highest-scoring freshman tandem in the country last season, along
with a solid corps of veterans including fifth-year senior Luke
Spencer-Gardner and center Matt Gastel. Coach Scott Sutton also
expects contributions from two transfers -- center Mickey Michalec
from Texas Tech and Larry Owens, a second-team junior college
All-American from Arizona.
"I really believe that we've got a pretty special team,"
Spencer-Gardner said. "If we're able to do the little things and
play some defense, I think we can go a long way."
But Spencer-Gardner, who missed last season with a leg injury,
knows the Golden Eagles can't afford to get carried away with being
the conference's preseason favorite.
"We've got to realize it doesn't mean anything," he said.
"We've been picked first before and floundered at the end of the
year. It's nice to get a little pat on the back, but you take it
with a grain of salt and just keep working."
Sutton said he's glad his team is getting some preseason
attention, even though it can at times be detrimental.
"I think that there's more good than bad," Sutton said. "I
think sometimes the kids can get caught up in thinking they're
better than they are at this time of the season, but sometimes
reality will set in and sometimes that's not all that bad."
The sixth-year coach, who's the youngest son of Oklahoma State
legend Eddie Sutton, said he already saw some signs of
overconfidence in the Golden Eagles' first preseason exhibition -- a
76-67 win against St. Gregory's,
"We didn't play with the type of effort and intensity we need
to play with," Sutton said. "I kind of accused them of reading
too much of the preseason articles.
"Hopefully, we got their attention."
That doesn't mean Green and the rest won't be able to keep
dreaming, but they'll have to keep a firm grip on reality, too.
"Everybody dreams about being in the NCAA tournament," Green
said, "but you can't dream too far and forget about what you've
got to accomplish right there."