NEWS 9 Sports Director Dean Blevins blogs from the NCAA tournament:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- No matter the outcome of OU's second round NCAA Tournament game Sunday afternoon, Jeff Capel and his Sooners will have had what should be considered a successful season.
Based on their talent, sporadic outside shooting and having to rely heavily on a rookie big man to lead them, who but one year ago was relishing beating a bunch of pimple faced 6-footers for a state title with small-class OCS in Oklahoma City, one could deem the 2007-08 campaign a terrific season.
How do we say that about a team that was dusted by a couple of weak sisters and blown out of the gym at Kansas and by Texas two times? Simple. The fact that they are still playing means they have played to their potential. And that's the grading curve.
Louisville will likely show them Sunday afternoon that they've got a ways to go before puffing out their chests too far. The Cards are their typical selves-well coached, skilled, tall, long, and suffocating on defense and crisp on offense.
It didn't take long yesterday watching them whack feisty Boise State-ouch-to see that Rick Pitino can flat out coach. Talk about intense, Pitino makes Mike Stoops seem like a teddy bear. But coach, he can.
Yesterday's solid win over St. Joe's surprised most NCCA bracketeers around the country. No one could have ever imagined David Godbold would put on a career performance on both ends of the court: 25 points on 6-of-8 threes, timely charity tosses and most surprisingly, a terrific evening on the defensive end limiting Hawk stud Pat Calathes to 2-of-11 shooting and a dreadful total of six points.
We asked Capel if you told him he'd win and a player would score 25, which one that would be. In order, he responded with BGriffin first, Tony Crocker second and then the others.
Overlooked by many is the fact that Blake Griffin and Longar Longar combined to make 10-of 12 shots and win the battle on the inside. Griffin showed why teams double and sometimes quick-trap triple him almost all the time. In crunch time he took advantage of being singled up to score a couple of easy inside buckets that put a fat period at the end of the sentence OU wrote out for St. Joes.
A South Carolina newspaper reporter is here keeping close tabs on Jeff Capel. Speculation mounts in that part of the country that Capel is definitely the coach South Carolina wants to take over its pedestrian program. Even though the OU job is better than the one with the Gamecocks, speculation continues to swirl that Capel is not content enough about things in Norman to stick very long. I don't know that to be true. But those whispers are persistent and not from amateur bloggers.
Personally, I believe OU is about to offer the second year Dukie a nice bump in pay. And the undisputed fact that all things considered the OU job is better than the one at USC along with the undisputed fact that Capel would have trouble being two and out after the Sooners took a gamble on a young and unproven coach.
I think he stays, keeps Blake Griffin and adds super signee guard Willie Warren to the lineup from day one and his third year team continue to rise. Definite top 25, a good shot at finishing third in the rugged Big 12 and a deeper run in the '09 NCAAs.
But it's not a given that just the opposite transpires. The Sooner Nation would take a punch in the gut if Capel leaves, Griffin jumps to the Association.....AND Willie Warren backs out of his decision to join Capel in Norman. Yes, folks. Remember this trio? Kelvin Sampson, Damion Jones and Scottie Reynolds. That trio along with Blake Griffin would have these Sooners looking to go deep into the tournament. But Sampson's departure led to the crumbling of what looked to be a slam dunk. Best hope history doesn't repeat itself.