Men's Basketball: Oral Roberts
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Monday, February 04, 2013
2/04/13 at 9:03 AM
14-8 overall, 9-1 Southland
with P.J. Purnell
Weight: 175 pounds
Hometown: Silver Springs, Md.
Purnell played on teams that won three consecutive high school state championships. He was a player in campus pick-up games before joining the team in the middle of last season. He made his first two game appearances this season and scored three points in a Southland Conference victory over McNeese State.
The Baltimore Ravens played the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. Can it be assumed that you are a Ravens fan since you are from Maryland?
Probably not. I like the Dallas Cowboys. Even though I live in Maryland, I am pretty much committed to Dallas. But I'm a Ray Lewis fan.
How does someone who lives in Maryland become a Dallas Cowboys fan?
My dad is in the army, so we moved around quite a bit. I kind of came out the womb as a Dallas Cowboys fan. I didn't really have a choice. I can't even really say I am a fan. Being a basketball player, there is not too much time that I am focused on football anyway.
Like many other kids in military families, did you grow up all over the place?
I was born in Norfolk, Va. Both of my parents are from Richmond, Va. I moved to, I believe, Colorado, South Carolina and then Germany and Maryland. ... (Home?) I always call it Richmond, Va. Even though I have lived in D.C. or Maryland for 10 years now, wherever my family is, that's generally where I call home.
Southland Conference co-leader Oral Roberts improved to 9-1 in league play by holding serve at home last week against Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana. Scott Sutton sees enough flaws in the Golden Eagles that he said it doesn't feel like he is coaching a 9-1 team. He was distressed by lack of defense against Nicholls State and by a big lead that slipped away against Southeastern Louisiana.
The week ahead
Thursday: at Northwestern State, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: at Stephen F. Austin, 6 p.m.
The biggest road trip of ORU's inaugural tour of the Southland Conference has arrived. Northwestern State is third in the league standings. Stephen F. Austin and ORU share first place.
The big picture
Mystery opponent to be announced
Who will ORU face in the Feb. 22-23 ESPN BracketBusters event? Pairings will be announced Monday.
Damen Bell-Holter and Warren Niles were asked this question: If you could pick any team in the country to be a BracketBusters opponent, who would it be? Niles chose Western Illinois and Bell-Holter approved. Why Western Illinois? That's the team that axed ORU's NCAA Tournament dream last season, knocking the Golden Eagles out of the Summit League Tournament. "That was a terrible feeling to lose a game that you think you should win, and it really cost us so much," Sutton said. A rematch is not in the cards. Western Illinois will be among 122 BracketBusters participants, but ORU and Western Illinois have been designated as home teams.
Big man on campus
Bell-Holter is the alpha male of Southland Conference post players. His two games against ORU's most recent opponent, Southeastern Louisiana, illustrate that point. In two games against the Lions, he produced 58 points (on 19-of-28 shooting) and 24 rebounds.
"He is taller and bigger and stronger," Niles said. "They have got to send two or three down there to help."
Opponents are in a pick-your-poison situation. Sending extra defenders creates shot opportunities for ORU perimeter players. Or, Bell-Holter gets to do one-on-one work.
The road ahead
Is there any reason for ORU to feel confident about a high-stakes road swing to Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin? Sutton suggested his team has played better on the road than at home. ORU has won seven road games, six home games and one neutral-site game.
ORU's Damen Bell-Holter shoots over a Stephen F. Austin defender last month. The Golden Eagles visit Stephen F. Austin for a Saturday-night showdown. JOEY JOHNSON / For the Tulsa World