Men's Basketball Holds First Workout

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

Sept. 18, 2008

NORMAN, Okla. - The OU men's basketball team held its first practice of the 2008-09 season on Wednesday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center, capitalizing on an NCAA rule that allows full squads to work out for up to two hours a week until the official start of practice in mid-October.

The Sooners' one-hour workout on the Bruce Drake Practice Court saw players getting acclimated to the expectations of third-year head coach Jeff Capel and his staff.

"With five new guys, we're really just trying to teach some things," said Capel.  "Teach them spacing, go through some things in transition and some different stuff with our motion offense -- cutting, passing and so forth.  We're just trying to get our principles down, see how guys play together, see different lineups and different groups.  We're trying to get a feel for who we are right now."

OU's 14-man roster was short three players for much of Wednesday's practice as they are recovering from minor injuries.  Sophomores Cade Davis and Blake Griffin were held out of live action due to an abdominal strain and an ankle/foot sprain, respectively.  Both are expected back on the court next week.

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Freshman Ray Willis also sat out as he continues to heal from injuries sustained a couple of weeks ago.

"He's getting better," said Capel of Willis.  "We anticipate him being ready to go for the official start of practice in a month."

The Sooners, who are ranked No. 7 nationally by and No. 10 by Athlon, are scheduled to hold another 60-minute workout on Thursday.

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  Quick Q&A with Senior Taylor Griffin

Q: Wednesday was the first time the whole team got to be on the court together since the NCAA Tournament last year.  Did it feel good to be back out there?
A: "Yeah, it did.  Everyone's been working hard all summer, but it's not the same as being out here with Coach (Capel), getting into sets and doing stuff we're going to use in games.  So this was kind of like our unofficial start of the season.  It's good to get our new guys out here and get them situated and get them familiar with how everything runs before we get into it for real."

Q: What are the new guys going through right now?  You remember your first practice your freshman year -- what's going through their heads on the first day?
A: "For me on my first day (as a freshman), everything was going 100 miles an hour -- trying to keep up, trying not to make too many mistakes and trying to listen to everything Coach is saying so you've got every chance to do the best you can.  I'm sure it's the same way for them now.  Everything's going really fast, but these practices help quicken that learning process."

Q: If these practices were going 100 miles an hour for you as a freshman, how fast are they going for you now as a senior?
A: "I would say it's been knocked down to a steady pace of about 60 miles an hour.  It's a big difference between your first day your freshman year and your first day your senior year."

Q: Do you try to talk to the new guys and tell them anything in order to help them?
A: "Most of the talking I do is probably during practice.  If they're not sure of what to do, I'll try to help them before Coach has to get on them or say something.  Anything we can eliminate from him having to deal with allows us to move faster and get on to something else."

Q: It was only an hour, but is there anything that sticks out to you about this group of guys compared to your first three years?
A: "We're just big, quick, strong.  This is by far the most athletic team I've been on.  We've just got a bunch of ballers -- guys who can score in a variety of ways and get up and down the court really fast.  We'll get all of our offensive sets put in (eventually), but there will be times when that stuff breaks down and it will come down to who can get to the basket and score.  That's going to help us out so much this year."