Below is a transcript of Oklahoma Head Basketball Coach Kelvin Sampson's interview with James Hale on WKY radio earlier this week about the Sooners upcoming trip to Costa Rica. Please note that this interview was conducted before the news of De'Angelo Alexander's shoulder injury.
JH: Your team began two-a-days on Monday to prepare for your trip to Costa Rica this weekend. You love practice, so I bet you are in your element this week aren't you?
KS: "I walked in Monday morning and we had 12 kids on the court and eight of them are freshmen and sophomores. I didn't know whether I was back in high school or junior college."
"Andrew Lavender, Lawrence McKenzie, Jimmy Tobias, Brandon Foust, Larry Turner and Kellen Sampson were the six freshmen. And then Jaison Williams was a junior college kid, so we have seven new players. But the six guys that are new this year, plus Kevin and De'Angelo, are freshmen and sophomores. We've got a lot inexperience out there, but we do have some guys up front that have played and we'll have to lean on them in this trip."
JH: What type of aspects of this trip do you think will help the team?
KS: Everything we do will be be beneficial. I've always subscribed to the ‘two rabbit theory'. If you try to chase two rabbits there's a good chance you won't catch either one. So, we're just going to put in one of our offenses in and try to get them to learn that. And then get after it on the defensive end and pound the pound the offensive boards. When we do start practice officially on Oct. 15, we'll just be that much further ahead. I just think anything we can do this week will be good for the basketball team, especially for the young kids. The freshmen will really benefit."
JH: How did the opportunity for this trip come about?
KS: "We've had the opportunity since day one to go on a foreign trip. The NCAA rule is real simple — you get to go on one every four years. Last year we didn't play in an exempt tournament because we went to Madison Square Garden to play Alabama early. That was a good early test for us, and I think that game wound up helping us a lot. We hadn't taken a foreign trip and I didn't want to do one just to be taking it. I wanted to do it at a time when it would be the right thing to do for this program. We lost so many kids from last years team that we're not starting over, but we're definitely rebuilding a little bit with this group."
"Duke opened the door last year when they went to London and didn't miss any classes during their fall break. That's the key. You can't miss any classes if you going during the academic year. We don't have a fall break here, but we do have a Labor Day break. So, we kind of fit this around Labor Day. The rule is you get 10 practices and can play in as many games as you like as long as you don't miss classes. So we're going to play two games Saturday, two games Sunday and fly home Monday."
JH: I'm sure you enjoy the fact that you get a set amount of practices along with the games.
KS: You're allowed to get 10 (practices) and we'll actually only get nine, but I'll be the only upset about that I'll promise you."
JH: You run so many different sets for your offense. How much of the offense will you put in for this trip?
KS: We won't even scratch our surface. We'll just put in enough stuff so they can understand the base things. We run a lot of stuff out of the ‘1-4' and we won't put any ‘1-4' stuff in. Our ‘box' sets are a little bit quicker to get into and easier to understand, so we'll put that in."
"There's other little things that are different in international rules. For instance, there's no 35 second clock, it's a 30 second clock. The three-point line is a little bit different and there's a trapezoid lane. We're dealing with a different game in a way. But for us it's still going to be basketball. We'll just work on our defense, work on our rebounding, put some base things in our offense and go from there."
JH: What kind of competition are you going to be playing against?
KS: "We're playing national teams. We're going to play a national team from Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and a professional team from Brazil."
JH: Talk a little about the activities of your players this summer.
KS: "Kevin (Bookout) went over to the Bahamas to play with an NIT all-star team. De'Angelo (Alexander) was selected to play on the United States junior national team in Athens, Greece. Jason (Detrick) was at the Nike camp in Indianapolis as well as at Michael Jordan's camp out in Santa Barbara. Jabahri (Brown) stayed here, and Jabahri and Jason are on track to graduate next may, so Jabahri passed nine credits this summer and he's back on track to graduate in May. Larry Turner went to Italy and played eight games. The freshmen and new kids were here working in the weight room and playing most of the summer. Our kids have been together a lot and now it's just a matter of them learning how to play with a coach on the floor."
JH: Didn't De'Angelo have a tremendous summer?
KS: Yes, he did. Ernie Kent, who is the coach at the University of Oregon, was the head coach for the United States junior team this summer and he just raved about him. I think De'Angelo is going to have a great year for us. Those two sophomores De'Angelo and Kevin, those two boys are going to be depended on to have big years, and I think they will."
JH: I know you're still finalizing your schedule, but what does it look like at this point?
KS: Well we play Baylor twice, O-State twice, Texas twice. We play everyone in the South twice and everyone in the North once (laughs). We play the preseason No. 1 and 2 team in the nation this year in Connecticut and Michigan State, and we play of them on the road. Do I need to say anything else (laughs)? We play Purdue at Lloyd Noble. We play Tulsa in Norman and Oral Roberts is in our tournament in Norman. Our non-conference schedule is always among the toughest in the country and this year will be no different."
JH: You're hosting a number of other highly regarded coaches in Norman this week. Can you touch on that?
KS: "Tom Crean, Tom Izzo and I came from the Michigan State coaching tree with Jud Heathcote. The three of us have been really good friends over the years and we decided we're going to host a basketball thing, kind of like a summit, brain session or 'x' and 'o' session. You just show us some stuff you like and we'll critique it and vice versa. We did this earlier in the summer in June in Milwaukee. When Dell Harris, from the Dallas Mavericks, and (John) Calipari (Memphis Coach), who were also with us, found out that we were going to be playing in Costa Rica they thought that this would be a great time to come in and have one before the season starts. They're all just going to be at our practices. I'm obviously not going to be going over a lot of game plans and in-depth stuff, but we do some neat stuff that people like and those guys do some stuff that I like. Any time you can share information and improve yourself is good. The summer is a great time for players to get better, but the also coaches. You have to constantly find ways to sharpen your blade and make yourself better. This is a way for our coaching staff to get better and learn some things."
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