Last season resembled a tumultuous roller coaster ride for Oklahoma point guard J.R. Raymond. After experiencing a multitude of highs and lows, his goal for the 2000-01 campaign is simple -- consistency.
Look no further than the 2000 NCAA Tournament to see the dichotomy in Raymond's season. In the opening-round game against Winthrop, Raymond led the Sooners with 14 points, making four of seven three-point attempts as Oklahoma cruised to a 74-50 victory. In the following game against Purdue, Raymond shot just one of six from the field and totaled a meager three points as the Sooners were knocked out with a 66-62 defeat.
The disparities in Raymond's season go deeper than just those NCAA Tournament appearances. A partial academic qualifier who sat out the 1998-99 season, Raymond poured in a career-high 29 points in his collegiate debut at the Top of the World Classic against Montana State on Nov. 19, 1999. In the Big 12 championship game against Iowa State, Raymond went 0 for 5 from the field and was held scoreless as Oklahoma went down, 70-58.
The 21-year-old, who started all 34 games and ranked second on the team in scoring (13.4 points per game) and assists (3.4 per game) last year, put up 20 or points more seven times in 1999-2000. But the former high school teammate of Orlando Magic superstar Tracy McGrady also lived up to his feast-or-famine reputation by scoring in single digits on eight occasions.
"J.R.'s a good kid, a very coachable kid," says Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson. "It's OK if J.R. has a bad game. He needs to hear that and not overreact to that. But J.R. has to play the game with more passion. He has to react better to adversity. He comes and goes in those areas."
-- Jimmy Traina