Men's basketball head coach excited for future of OU program.
April 16, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma head men's basketball coach Jeff Capel met with local media this afternoon for close to 40 minutes. Video and quotes are available below.
Coach Capel Press Conference Video
On today's signing of Tyler Neal:
"I'm really excited to announce the signing of Tyler Neal today. We got his letter of intent back and he had a ceremony at school earlier this morning. I'm really excited about him. I think he's going to be a good player for us. He had a really good senior year, state player of the year here in Oklahoma. I think he has a chance to be a really good player for us. He fits what we need in this program. Hard working guys, guys that have talent but also guys that have high character. We look forward to working with him."
On some fans lacking hope for next year:
"There is hope. There absolutely is hope. I'm excited about us going forward, too. Sometimes in order to get better you have to cleanse. Sometimes you have to lose some things. Sometimes you have to fall apart in order to fall back together. With some of the guys that have left, I'm not really surprised. It's something that is going on around the country, not just here in our program. It's a little bit different for our program, when you have so many guys leaving at one point, but the guys that we have coming back are working. I'm excited about them. There's a difference already right now in how we have worked, how we have approached things than we had at any time last season, in the summer and the spring last year. I'm excited about the guys we have coming in. They are very committed and understanding of what they have to do and what needs to be done in order to win next year. For a lot of people it may look doom-and-gloom, but for me it's exciting. It's certainly a challenge but it's something that I think we are all up for."
On if the players OU signed last fall have wavered:
"Those guys remained committed, strong, and didn't waver one bit. I tell those guys, and all the guys we recruit, 'Believe me. Don't believe stuff you hear, don't believe things other coaches tell you, don't believe the stuff you read, whether it's on a message board or in the newspaper. Believe me. I'm always the best source for the truth. I will always shoot you straight with what is going on.' There was never, in my conversations with them and their family, any wavering. It was 'OK Coach, what do I have to do? What do I have to do to have an impact right away?' There was never any wavering."
On Tiny Gallon's status:
"Not sure. I'm not sure what he is going to do as far as if he will enter the NBA draft or whether he is going to come back to school."
On the team's available scholarships:
"We won't fill them all. We want to get guys that we think fit with what our needs are right now. Since I have been a head coach I don't think I have ever had 13 scholarship players. I don't think I've ever used a full allotment of scholarships. That's not something where we're going to look and sign six guys right now. We have enough. We will get enough. We will get the guys we are supposed to get. I have always felt that way about recruiting."
On if he agreed with Willie Warren's decision to go pro:
"Sure, it's what he wanted to do. It's not my job to tell a guy to come back to school. These guys all have opportunities. I think one of the greatest things that all of us have been given is the opportunity to choose. It's a decision that he made and I support him 100 percent. I think he's ready and I think he is going to be a guy that will be a good NBA player."
On if each of the underclassmen who left would have had a scholarship available to them next year:
"Yes. The report was erroneous that Willie (Warren) was told that he didn't have a scholarship if he came back. I don't know what source that gentleman got that from but it certainly wasn't me. Willie always had my full support. That doesn't mean that we agreed all the time but I love the kid. I'm glad the kid chose the University of Oklahoma. I wish him well. He's been in our gym working out and we have been working him out to try to get him prepared for what is coming. But yes, all of the guys would have been eligible to come back."
On if the events of last year have caused him to rethink his recruiting philosophy:
"No. We want to continue to get the guys that are the best fit. Every guy that we've signed since I've been the head coach here at OU and when I was at VCU, at the time we signed them we thought they'd be a good fit. That doesn't mean that it always works out. And that goes on around the country. Our philosophy is not going to change. We're going to continue to try to get guys we think fit certain needs and that we think fit the core values of our program. Have we made some mistakes? Absolutely. We have made some mistakes. It's something we're going to continue to fight, continue to get after and recruit the right guys.
"The thing we do want is guys that have two feet in. We don't want a guy that still has one bag packed and looking to get out."
On the team's workouts this spring:
"There has been a different way that we work. Look, these guys that are coming back are embarrassed. They didn't come to Oklahoma to be 13-18. None of us did. It's something that happened. I know we're just talking about us right now and for me it's very personal, but there were a lot of teams in the country this year that struggled.
"Maybe I didn't appreciate how young we were going to be. Maybe I didn't appreciate it -- not just the youth, but the immaturity. If you look at our team this year and if you look at some of our games, there were at least six conference games where we led in the second half. Led (some) with under 10 minutes to go. We went through stretches where it just started happening again. All of a sudden, if we make a couple shots and get a couple stops then maybe there would have been a difference.
"Two years ago we were able to win those games. There's a fine line between winning and losing. There were several games this year where we were right there. Down at A&M, if we get one stop with 32 seconds left or make a shot after that, then all of a sudden it may be a little bit different season. It just didn't work that way for us."
On the team's improvements this spring:
"I like the way our guys are working. I like the sense of urgency that they have and I like the fact that they are embarrassed. I like the fact that they want to do something about it and they understand that a lot of things have to change. Attitudes have to change, commitment to work has to change. Those things have to change."
On the one-and-done rule:
"I think it's a bad rule. I think what it does, to be completely honest with you, is it really makes a joke out of education and the educational system. The reality of it is, if you have a kid coming into college that in his mind is absolutely set on being a one-and-done guy, unless your athletic department or university has an attendance policy, all he really has to do is sign up for classes that second semester. So I do think it's a bad rule. I would like to see it changed. Will it change? I don't know. I know the collective bargaining agreement is coming up after the next NBA season and that is something that could change."
On the team's mentality last year:
"One of the big things that happened to us, just being very honest, was a byproduct of success. Sometimes success can make you soft. I think that's what happened with us and it was something I warned our team (about) that was coming back. After that season was over, there was so much positive. Everyone was patting these guys on the back and telling them how good they are. We had a highly ranked recruiting class coming in. I think what happened, as much as I tried to warn them, I think we got caught up in success and because of that I don't think we worked as hard.
"I think some things happened in the spring and summer that led to this and the experiences we had this year. We weren't tough. We weren't mentally tough. We weren't physically tough. That is why, in those games I mentioned earlier, we couldn't come up with that one stop, we couldn't get a basket, we didn't understand how to get fouled, or to make a foul shot. When you get that way sometimes you have to go through something bad, sometimes adversity does that to you. It's going to make us all better. It's going to make them better. It's going to make them better men. It's going to make them better basketball players."
On the perception that he's been looking at other jobs:
"I've always been one not to get into perceptions. For the record, I was never contacted by Clemson or Wake Forest. I was at a recruiting meal last Friday (in Norman) and I started getting these texts that I'm in Charlotte interviewing with Clemson. I'm at Charleston's (restaurant). I was showing the kid my phone and was like 'can you believe that this is how rumors get started?'
"When it's printed or written somewhere, people believe it as gospel. If I wasn't happy here, I wouldn't be here. That's the first thing. I've never done anything just for money or just because I have to. That's just not how I am, that's not how I'm made up. If I didn't want to be here I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't happy. I wouldn't do that to my family.
"I know I have the full support of my athletic director, of our university president and the people I come in contact with. I can't do anything about what people perceive. There was a perception that I was hiding. I was working. I was on the road recruiting, we had guys in. That's what I've been doing. I don't do anything about perception. I don't read it, I don't listen to it, and I don't hear it. Sometimes people have to fill me in with what is being said or what the perception is because I live under a rock sometimes."