Hi everyone and welcome to the first installment of my "Mailbag."  School is in full swing here on the OU campus and that means basketball season is just a few alley-oops and buzzer-beaters away. 

As a way to help you learn more about me and our basketball program, I'll be here every month answering your questions.  Feel free to ask me hoops questions, but this is an open forum.  So ask me anything you'd like.  I'll pick the best questions and post my answers here on SoonerSports.com.

Before we get started with my first round of responses, let me remind you of the link to submit your questions: just CLICK HERE and you'll be on your way.

All right, let's get started! 

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From: Tony Thompson (Springfield, IL)

Question: Are you a college football fan and are you excited about OU's first game against UAB on September 2nd?

Answer: I'm really excited and jacked up about the college football season starting.  I can't wait for our game against UAB on Saturday - just getting out there and soaking it all in.  My wife and I are moving into our new house this weekend and I'm so excited about the season that I have convinced the cable people to come out to my house on Saturday morning to hook up my cable so I'm able to watch college football all day up until our game.  Football is something I have a big passion for, whether it's college or NFL.  I'm really excited to experience what game days are like here. 

Hope you can make it down to a game this year, Tony.  Look for me, because I'll be there.

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From: Colt Edwards (Gladewater, TX)

Q: Mike Neal will definitely be the top target for our opposing teams.  How are we going to be able to get him the ball with the opportunity to score?  Will he have to create on his own or will he run around like J.J. Redick did at Duke?

A: Thanks for the question, Colt.  One of the things we've worked on with Mike, in terms of how we're going to be able to get him the ball with opportunities to score, is to expand his game.  We know guys are going to look to jam him and chase him around.  We need to have Mike do some things like show the ball then take one or two dribbles and create - whether it's for himself or for someone else.  We'll have him running around on screens, but also with our motion offense and some of the sets we run he'll be a guy setting screens.  I've always been a big believer that if you set a good screen, usually you are the guy that ends up getting open.  So we'll look at different ways to get Mike the ball in positions to score.

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From: Jesse (Weatherford, OK)

Q: Defense is what Oklahoma is known for - that and rebounding.  What are your plans for the grind side of the floor?

A: We want to hang our hat on defense, Jesse.  I think the one common denominator for any really good team or any team that has a chance to be a championship team is that they're really good defensively.  That's the one thing that's a constant, the one thing you can control.  You can't always control whether you make a shot.  But defense is something that can always be there.  You can be really good defensively every night and that is something we're going to focus on.  We want to carry on that defensive tradition.

We'll play a little bit of everything on defense.  Obviously with our team this year I think it's going to be important for us to mix up our defenses.  We're probably going to have to hide some guys, especially some of our post guys because of our lack of depth there.  So we'll mix it up with some different zones - it might be a 1-3-1 or a 2-3 or a 1-2-2.  Our main defense will be man, though.  We always want to have a great foundation with our man-to-man defense.  From there, we'll do some different things to keep teams off balance.  Good question. 

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From: Stephen Faulkenberry (Lexington, OK)

Q: First off, good luck this season.  How do you see the front line shaping up this year?

A: Hi Stephen.  The front line is an area where we're really thin.  We only have three guys there, four if you count Nate Carter.  And with those three guys - Longar Longar, Taylor Griffin and Keith Clark - really, none of them have experience.  Longar and Taylor have been in the program but they haven't had a lot of serious game minutes.  So each day we're going to have to take steps to get better.  It's going to be really important for those guys to play without fouling and also learn to not pace themselves on the floor.  They have to give everything they have when they're out there.

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From Billy Trompeter (Oklahoma City, OK)

Q: Hey Coach, I saw an article on ESPN about the top 50 teams in America.  We weren't in it.  I think the guy's crazy, based on OU's pride in sports alone.  What are your expectations and goals for this season?  I think we could turn some heads this year.

A: Appreciate the question, Billy.  Our expectations and goals are to become the best team we can be.  We don't worry about anyone else's expectations and we should never worry about anyone else's expectations.  Now all of those types of things are great for fans to talk about and certainly we want to have a team that is mentioned among those top 50 teams, mentioned with top-25 teams, top-15, top-10.  That's what this program has been.  But our main goal and focus is trying to get better each day.  If you do that, those other things take care of themselves.

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From: Travis Weedn (Austin, Texas)

Q: Coach Capel, do you believe that OU has the "capelbility" to be a 20-win team and make it to the NCAA Tourney in your first year here?  BOOMER SOONER!!!!

A: All right, an OU fan writing from Austin.  Good to hear from you, Travis.  I think we certainly have a chance to do that.  Now, some things have to happen.  We have to come together, we have to believe in each other.  This is a team that's really going to have to rely on each other.  And we're really going to need our students and our fans to get behind us.  I think a lot of people will enjoy watching our team and will fall in love with it.  I also think that if some things go right and if we can get some guys to really improve and have great years, we'll have a chance to do what you asked about.

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From: Kent (Oklahoma City, OK)

Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals?  Also, any suggestions for music to play at Lloyd Noble Center before and during the games this season?

A: Thanks for checking in, Kent.  I don't really have a lot of pre-game rituals.  I'll get by myself before I head out to the floor and say a quick little prayer, but that's about it.  As far as the music, I don't really have any suggestions other than to play what the players like.  I'm a big believer in the fact that all of this is about our players.  So whatever they like to get them pumped up and focused then that's what we should play.

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From: Chris (Norman, OK)

Q: How are you adjusting to life in Oklahoma?  How does your wife like it so far?

A: We're adjusting very well - thanks for asking, Chris.  The people here have been great and really friendly.  We finally move into our house this weekend so that'll be nice to be in my own bed.  The people at Sooner Legends Hotel have been great by putting us up there.  But we're really anxious to get into our place and start experiencing some normalcy.  Norman's a really nice town.  The people are what make it great, the campus is beautiful and it's just a tremendous place to be.

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From: Tom Huseman (San Francisco, CA)

Q: No questions, just wanted to say welcome to the OU family and I'm glad you are our new men's basketball coach.  Good luck to you Coach Capel and good luck to the entire team.

A: It's great to be a part of the Sooner family and my wife and I look forward to being here for a very long time.  I appreciate that, Tom.

And I appreciate everybody who submitted their questions for this first installment of the "Mailbag."  I apologize to those of you whose questions I was not able to get to - the fan response has been tremendous and there were simply too many to answer!  Keep submitting them, though, because I'll be responding every couple of weeks.  And don't hesitate to ask me questions not related to basketball.  I'm a regular guy who likes a lot of sports and a variety of other things.

One more thing before I go - I want to remind our fans that we have a super deal available on season tickets.  For $180, you can be at all 18 of our home games this year.  For you non-math majors, that's just $10 a game!  Call the OU Athletics Ticket Office and they'll set you up.  The numbers are (800) 456-4668 and (405) 325-2424.

Thanks everybody!  See you next time!

Boomer Sooner,
Coach Capel