One on one with Jeff Capel

Capel talks to about the signing of Omar Leary, the NCAAs decision to move the 3-point line back and much, much more.

Life for a men's basketball coach never slows down, and that is certainly true for OU Men's Basketball Coach Jeff Capel. You can't call him the new head coach anymore because he has a full season behind in the books. He now totally understands what he jumped into at OU and he is moving full-steam ahead to get the program back among the elite in the country.

With his second summer camp season coming up, Capel has become a father for the first time, hired a new assistant coach, signed a point guard and been very busy evaluating the top juniors and sophomore prospects in the country. But he did take a few minutes after his busy schedule to go one-on-one with

JH: Congratulations to you and your beautiful wife Kanika on the birth of your first child.

JC: "I appreciate that. It has been an incredible blessing for us. We are really, really happy."

JH: How is Kanika holding up?

JC: "She is great. She is holding up like a trooper. Everything was fine as the procedure went great. The baby is fine and she is doing well. Everyone is at home now and she is recovering. As any woman knows or any man that is married and is with a woman that has had a child knows, their body goes through a lot. She is really recovering well and the baby is completely healthy and doing great."

JH: You were in the delivery room, right?

JC: "Absolutely."

JH: As she was going through labor, did your wife call you names that you didn't think she was capable of calling you because she was in such intense pain?

JC: "Nope. We had powerful drugs. I don't think she went through to much pain. I was proud of her."

JH: You have named your daughter Cameron. People wanted me to ask you if there was a special meaning behind the name?

JC: "No, it is just the name that we both kind of agreed on. I know a lot of people think that we named her after Cameron Indoor Stadium, but that had nothing to do with it. It was just a name that we both thought was a really nice name and a name that we thought was fitting for our daughter."

JH: How big is the baby?

JC: "She was nine pounds and five ounces, and she was 20 inches long."

JH: Tell us about the new assistant coach you just hired.

JC: "Oronde Taliaferro is our new coach. He came from Arkansas and was there for the last five years. If you look at the talent level they were able to assemble there at Arkansas, they will arguably have the most talented team in the SEC next year. It will be either them or Tennessee. They will probably be picked to win their side of the SEC and I think that is a testament to Oronde and the rest of the staff at Arkansas. I thought Stan (Heath) really got a raw deal, a really bad deal at Arkansas. Nonetheless, it worked out the way it is supposed to work out and it really helped us as we were able to get Oronde.

"As I went through this process it took a while, but I wanted to make sure I was getting the right person. I had a couple of names in mind and I went around and I asked a lot of people about them. I talked to a lot of people in the profession who I respect and I talked to a lot of AAU coaches and a lot of people at the grassroots level of basketball at the Nike and Addidas camps. I talked to a lot of high school coaches and just to people that I respect and whose opinions that I know to be true. And the one name that kept coming up or that was common was Oronde. It was because of the connections that he has made through the young men that he was able to recruit, and the relationships that he was able to develop while he was at Arkansas and at Kent State and as a high school coach at Detroit.

"Every time I heard his name it was very, very positive. He and I met at the Final Four and visited there. Once we had a chance to visit face-to-face and talk about some things, it became apparent that he was the frontrunner. We had to beat off some people as he was a very wanted guy. Michigan, Florida State, Miami, Arkansas, and when Stan got the job at South Florida, obviously he wanted Oronde to follow him there. He was very sought-after in our profession. We feel very fortunate to get him on our staff. He is a guy who can do it on and off the court. He can teach and he is really good at that, but he is also a great communicator, which I think will really help us in recruiting."

JH: You are rolling into your summer camp season as well, and I know that camps are very important to you. I am going to guess that you grew up in camps every since you were about five years old?

JC: "I have been involved in camps ever since I can remember. My dad was a high school coach so he had camps and I was always went to his camp. I love camps. I loved them when I was younger, when I was playing and when I was growing up. It was just the opportunity to go, meet other people and to play basketball. I didn't have to worry about anything else but playing basketball. For me, being serious about the game I remember I really wanted to get better. I tell kids every time I speak to them now that I had two goals at every camp that I went to: I wanted to be the best listener and the hardest worker. I felt if I did do those two things, the best player would take care of it self.

"I love them, I absolutely love them. As I have gotten older and I have had a chance to work camps when I played, to go and speak at different camps and now since I have become a head coach to run my own camp, it is something that I look forward to all the time. We had great camps during my four years at VCU and we want to have great camps here. Hopefully, people will come out and want to be a part of it.

"We feel we have some really exciting camps coming up starting June 1-3 with our Father/Son over ight camp. That was something that my dad did when he was a head coach and I really got into it. Kelvin (Sampson) did it during his time here and we just kind of took it over. I tell you what, I loved getting to know the fathers and their children last year at the camp. One night we had a thing where we just kind of sat around and talked. We opened it up for a question and answer session and one of the dads got really emotional because he wasn't sure if we were going to keep the camp. He talked about how much it means to him and his son and them getting a chance to bond. I think that is a great camp and I am actually trying to get my father, depending on his schedule with the Bobcats, to come in for the camp this year. I am also trying to get my brother to do the same, so hopefully he can do that.

"Then we go to our day camp June 4-7. That will be a really good camp. It is from 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. and you can do it in different sessions from 9:00 to noon or noon to 4:00 p.m. only. Or you can do the whole thing. The price on that is $210 for the little Sooners in the morning and we are going to go ages 6 through 10. If they want to come in the afternoon, ages 6 through 18 including lunch, then that price is $370.00 if you are going to do it all day. If you are just going to do the a.m. camp, then it is just $210.

"Then we are going to have our specialty camp. We got away this year from the overnight camp. The reason why we did that was because the numbers were down and it just cost so much. The prices have gone up and we just decided this year to try something different, so we are doing a specialty camp. What I mean by specialty camp it is kind of like a position camp. That is going to be June 18-21.

"It is a day camp from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m and it is four days of specialized instruction. So if you are a camper out there or a kid and you consider yourself a point guard, then your work that week will be on strictly how to become a better point guard. We are going to have our guys and our coaches here working the camp. We are also going to try to get some of the former players back. For the point guards, we are going to get Mookie (Blalock) to come back and maybe spend a day. We are going to try to get Hollis (Price) to come back or maybe Brent (Price). These are guys that we are going to reach out to.

"For the other guards and wings positions, if that is what you consider yourself, then for those four days that is what we are going to do. We are going to try to get some former players back at those positions. We are going to do the same at forward and center. We think this is a camp that can be really, really good for the people that are serious about becoming better basketball players. The last one is June 22-24, which is our high school team camp. We are very excited about that. We had a great camp last year and a couple of teams that won in our camp won the state championship here in Oklahoma. It is a great camp and we are excited about all of them.

If people need more information or want to enroll in the camp, all they need to do is call 405-325-4732 and you can ask for Amy or Renee. Or you can register online at"

JH: What do you think of the NCAA's latest ruling that prohibits college coaches from sending text messages to recruits?

JC: "I am against the latest ruling. I understand that maybe some schools and some people were being a little bit out of control with the texting, but I just think it is such a form of communication. First of all, that is what kids do, not just student/athletes. Kids text now. That is their form of communication and that is the way they relate to each other. For us as college coaches, especially coaches, that it is important to build relationships with them to where you can build a solid relationship or set a foundation on how that relationship is going to be through texting. They have already taken away phone calls away from us as now we can't call kids as early as we once could. At least when I was being recruited, you felt like you got to know the coaches a little bit better. And I am sure then that the coaches felt they got to know the kids a little bit better.

"Now they take away texting and I don't think it is good. I understand that maybe you could have legislated it a little bit more and put some restrictions on it, but I think that would have been difficult. I think they decided to remove it all because I don't know how you could legislate it or mentor it. It will be interesting to see what happens with it. That rule goes into effect August 1st, so we still have a little bit of time where you can get your text messages in."

JH: Most coaches that I talk to agree with you. So, as a coach, do you have any recourse here to ask for another vote since so many disagree with the NCAAs ruling?

JC: "I am not sure. It doesn't sound like it right now. Sometimes, as coaches, we get frustrated with the NABC because sometimes we feel that these rules that are made and we are not really given an opinion. No one allows us to voice our opinion on what we think. There are some decisions that are made about our game by people who are making these decisions that are not actually in this trench with us or doing what we do. I don't think anyone knows what is best for our profession more than coaches, except for people that are in it or people that have done it.

"So I am not sure if anything can be done about it. Maybe it will be something as we move forward it will get back on the docket. And, hopefully, if you have enough of the right coaches, and what I mean by that are the name coaches, then maybe they can raise some questions about it and it could be something that could possibly be changed."

JH: The 3-point line will be moved back a foot next season. How is this going to effect college basketball?

JC: "I think it is going to be very positive. I have been for this for a while for several different reasons. No. 1, I think it can really help in spacing, especially if you have good post guys and you have some guys who can shoot the ball. Then you have to get out and guard those guys a little bit more. I think our game has very few guys now in college basketball who can dribble-drive and do things off the bounce. That is because everybody has fallen in love with shooting 3's or trying to get all the way to the basket and dunking. This is a way to get back to trying to get guys to develop more of a mid-range game. I think people can do some mid-range things and get to a spot and pull up and shoot the ball mid-range. I think they become more effective because of spacing, especially if you have guys who can shoot the ball on the perimeter.

"I mentioned post guys and if you have guys who can shoot it that allows them to have more space to operate down low. Another one of the reasons I wanted it to be moved back is because if you look at every level of basketball when you move up, and what I mean by that is that you are usually moving the line back, when you go to the NBA or any professional league you move the line back. Well, we have third graders who can shoot the same shot as college players, and I think that is the main reason why for me that I thought it should be moved back. I don't think a foot back is that far. I shot them from deeper than that when I played. I think if you look at percentages, I think guys can shoot the ball. Certainly, we struggled shooting last year but if you have some guys who can shoot it then moving the line a foot back is not going to make that much difference."

JH: You are saying if you are a shooter then a foot back is not going to keep you from shooting it?

JC: "I don't think so. I think what it may do is get some of those guys who are maybe average shooters or decent shooters to now not take that shot. Maybe that shot is a little bit out of their range. I think what you were seeing is that you had so many guys, you had post guys wanting to fall in love and shoot 3's and different things like that. I think what you will see is maybe some of those guys won't be as inclined to shoot that shot. However, if you can shoot the ball, and we certainly have some guys in this league who are very good shooters, I don't think a foot back is going to make that much difference.

"In fact, I think a lot of guys who can shoot the ball pretty well usually don't shoot the ball right on the 3-point line anyway. They are usually one or two steps back, so I don't think it is going to be that big of a difference. I think it can change the way you defend, especially since you always want to try to guard the 3-point line. Now, all of a sudden, that is going to create more spacing inside if you are really going to have to get out and contest shots from out there. I think it is going to create more space inside to operate. I think that can be really good for us, because I think a strength of ours next year is going to be our post play."

JH: You have announced the signing of junior college All-American point guard Omar Leary. What kind of player are you getting in Omar?

JC: First of all, I think we are getting a really good player and a good kid. I am excited about Omar. He brings depth at the point guard position for us, and at the guard position. He is a kid that wins and is a kid that I feel has very good leadership qualities. He has won 66 games in two years there.

"He can shoot the ball, shoot it with range and handle it. He is a good passer and he is a left handed kid and we think he can be a very good defender for us. He averaged four steals a game for the past two years. A lot of his steals were on the ball. He wasn't playing off in the passing lanes because of his size. He can hawk you a little bit. So we are excited about him.

"We were very excited to be able to get involved with a guy with his talent and with the things that he had accomplished this late in the game. We are glad that he is a part of the Sooner family and we look forward to him coming in and hopefully having a big impact on what we want to do."

JH: It looks like you have three point guards on the roster now in Leary, Austin Johnson,and Tony Neysmith. What do you think about the possibilities at that position going into next season?

JC: "We have one true point guard and the other guys are guys that I would consider more combo guards. One of the things that I have always liked to have is a guy who is just a point guard. If you look at my past team at VCU, Eric Maynor is a point guard. Before he got there we played a kid named B.A. Walker some at the point, but we wanted to be able to move him off the ball and allow him to score. He ended up being one of the top 10 scorers in the history of VCU basketball.

"Leary is a point guard. He is not a two-guard or a combo guard, he is a point guard. That excites me. And he has always been a point guard. That is all he has ever been. That is exciting to me because I look at what we can do now with a Tony Neysmith or an Austin Johnson, maybe moving them around a little bit, and getting them back to their more natural positions at times of playing on the wing."

A couple of other notes about men's hoops: OU is close to signing a contract that will allow them to take a trip to Canada during Labor Day where they will play four games in three days. It will be against Canadian college teams. Everybody on the current roster will be allowed to go including the incoming freshmen. Also, the Sooners will be in the Coaches vs Cancer preseason tournament next year and it looks like they will be one of the top four seeded teams in the tournament. UConn and Memphis are also set to be in the tournament. OU will probably get to host the first two games of the tournament against mid or low major type teams. They are also participating in the Big-12/Pac-10 challenge and will square off against Tim Floyd and USC. I think that game will be in Los Angeles . OU also has home dates already set with Arkansas and West Virginia.

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