Oklahoma basketball adjusting to nine newcomers
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — With nine newcomers on his roster after a massive offseason overhaul, even coach Jeff Capel isn’t sure what to expect out of Oklahoma basketball this season.
After less than a dozen practice sessions to figure out his new team, Capel said Tuesday he hasn’t decided on his starters yet and it’s too early to tell what sort of team the Sooners will be.
“It’s so early to start making these judgments on our team,” Capel said. “Maybe if you have a bunch of guys returning and you know your team really well, it’s a little bit easier.”
Oklahoma lost three seniors and five underclassmen from last year’s team that finished 13-18. Tiny Gallon, Willie Warren and Tommy Mason-Griffin all entered the NBA draft, with Gallon and Warren each getting picked in the second round.
Capel went all over to fill his roster, bringing in four recruits from high schools, two junior college transfers, two Division I transfers and an international player. The Big 12’s coaches picked the new-look Sooners to finish 11th in the conference this season.
“It’s been typical of a young team, a team that has a lot of new guys,” Capel said. “There are some really bright spots and at times it looks like we have no idea what we’re doing.”
Senior captain Cade Davis is the most experienced player on the team, with sophomores Andrew Fitzgerald and Steven Pledger the only others who’ve played significant minutes for the Sooners in the past.
The incoming class is made up of freshmen Cameron Clark, T.J. Taylor, Tyler Neal, Calvin Newell and Abdul Ahmed, junior college transfers Nick Thompson and C.J. Washington, plus point guard Carl Blair and forward Romero Osby.
Ahmed is from London and spent last year playing in the Canary Islands, Blair transferred from New Orleans and Osby came over from Mississippi State.
“We’ve had to go a little bit slower than I’m accustomed to, again because we’re spending so much time teaching everything and having to break everything down,” Capel said. “We want to be good at things before we move on to something else.”
Thompson, who played two seasons at the College of Eastern Utah, made enough of an early impression that he was chosen as a team captain without every playing for the Sooners. He’s credited with helping to bring the team together, frequently hosting everyone at his apartment.
“We’re meshing perfectly,” Pledger said. “It’s kind of surprising because we do a lot of things as a team. We all go out as a team. We don’t leave one person behind.”
Capel wants that chemistry from off the court to carry over into games. The Sooners play one exhibition game before opening their season Nov. 12 against Coppin State.
“We’re not a team that’s going to rely just on one guy,” Capel said. “We have to be the epitome of a team, where it’s five guys playing together as one, then those eight or nine guys you have on the bench are still part of that one that’s out there and when they get their opportunity, they’re ready to step in and do what they can do to help our basketball team.
“That’s what everything has to be about. It can’t be about an individual.”
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