One-on-one with Taylor Griffin

Sooner forward Taylor Griffin talks about his offseason progress under new head coach Jeff Capel. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

When a new coach takes over a program it is the players on the team that the change affects the most. Every player currently on the men's basketball roster at OU was recruited by Kelvin Sampson, but none of them have asked for their release now that Jeff Capel has been hired as the new boss.

Already, the returning players have had several individual workouts with their new coach and several meetings as well. To find out how the new relationship is going between returning players and new coach, we turn to sophomore forward Taylor Griffin.

JH: What has it been like to go through the transition of playing for Kelvin Sampson to Jeff Capel?

TG: "It was a definitely a shock at first when we learned that Coach Sampson was leaving. I really got excited when I heard that Coach Capel was going to be our new coach, because I remembered him during my recruiting process in high school. I really liked him and what he had to say. I have been around him three weeks now and we have had some pretty good talks.

"Everything that I have heard so far I have really liked. It is from the way that he is talking about pushing the ball more, running and getting up and down the court to just talking to him as a person. He is a good guy and I think everybody in our team is excited. I am talking about the managers to everybody who are excited about what he is going to do here, and about who he is going to bring in here as far as coaches and players."

JH: Why are basketball players so temperamental and transitional when there are coaching changes or when things aren't perfect with a team?

TG: "The key for any programs' success is for the players to believe in the coach and believe in his system. That is one thing that Coach Capel is trying to do — is come in and make it where there is a big trust between the players, coaches and really between everybody here. I think that is a big part of it, but from what he has done so far I think he is going to be successful at it."

JH: What has been your impression of his early workouts?

TG: "We really get after it. From the first day we had a great workout, and it was one of the best individual workouts that I have had in a long time. We worked on a whole lot of things in the limited amount of time that we had. It was only 45 minutes, but we got a lot done — from me and Longar working on back-to-the-basket moves to shooting 3's. We worked on every kind of shot there is it seemed like."

JH: You have to like the fact that you are getting a chance to shoot 3's, and the fact that you are getting a chance to face the basket and shoot the ball a little bit?

TG: "Yeah, I love that. That is what we are working on. We are working on a lot of ball moves, making a move off the dribble. I didn't work on that a lot last year. It was mainly back-to-the-basket moves. So, yeah, I am really excited about playing on the perimeter a little bit more."

JH: Can you represent the team and give us what the thoughts generally are about Coach Capel being your new coach?

TG: "I think right now we are still trying to get to know him. I think I have talked to Coach Capel more than the other guys, just because I have been around him a little bit when he knew me beforehand. I think right now it is a learning process as we are getting to know him and he is getting to know us. I think it is going to be a really good situation with Coach and Coach (Mark) Cline, our new assistant coach. He has really impressed the guys with his knowledge and what he is trying to do. I just have a really good feeling about this whole thing."

JH: At the practice I was at, it looked like the big guys were going to be working with Coach Cline. Is that the case?

TG: "He is going to be the big-man coach and we have worked with him the last two weeks now in individuals. We have learned a lot in these last two weeks, whether it is just different ball moves or different insights to the game. We are learning what he wants us to do and what kind of players he wants us to be. It has been good."

JH: What are going to be your goals for the summer? What do you hope to accomplish?

TG: "I was just talking to Coach Capel about that. He wants me, as far as being a player goes, to continue to work on my perimeter shot and to be able to shoot off the catch. He wants to me to be able to get a shot after one or two dribbles and then pull up and hit the shot. The main thing he wants is for me to be in really good shape. Actually, great shape. He said that is going to be the difference for this team because if everybody is in great shape then we will be able to run and get easy baskets. That is what his gameplan is about. So the big thing is to just be in condition."

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