Once again, OU head coach Jeff Capel and the Sooners mentioned the importance of not squandering their chance as a No. 2 seed to make a deep run in the tourney.
"It's very important because these opportunities don't come around that often," Capel said. "I remember after my freshman year [at Duke], we lost the national championship, and I remember being up here on the stage doing the media stuff afterwards and in the locker room, and I remember thinking, ‘You know, hey man, we'll get back here at least once, twice, during my career. I'll have another chance to win it.' We never got close. The furthest we got during my last three years was the second round.
And after this year, the Sooners are set to lose a large portion of what has brought them this opportunity in sophomore star forward Blake Griffin, who likely will enter the 2009 NBA Draft, brother and senior forward Taylor Griffin and senior guards Austin Johnson and Omar Leary.
"You certainly don't want to take it for granted, and you have to be able to hopefully lay everything out there on the line," Capel said. "This is something I have talked to our players about. You don't want to look back, you know, a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, and think what could have been."
Taylor was one of the Sooners to echo Capel's comments about this being a special group.
"I think everybody is really aware, from seniors to freshmen, of how big this is, what a big opportunity this is and that we've got to take advantage of it," Taylor said.
He said they've known for a while now they had the potential to be a special group.
"I've known how talented this group was going to be since last summer when we started playing pickup ball together, and I knew this was going to be a special team," Taylor said. "I knew we had a chance to make a long run in the tournament, and that time is upon us. It's been a blast playing this season and having the success we've had, but none of that really matters if you go out and lose your first game here."
Majority of the analysts are not picking the Sooners to reach the Final Four, but that doesn't really bother the players on the team.
"So many people pick their Final Fours, and sometimes people are right and sometimes people are wrong," Blake said. "We're not worried about what other people think."
Blake said the Sooners just need to control what they can control.
"Right now we need to be worried or concentrate on ourselves," Blake said. "Only we can control our destiny. You can come out and play a really good team, they can play well, and we can play better, and we can win. We're not worried so much about what other people are thinking. We're worried about who we're playing at the time and how we're controlling ourselves."
Even so, one public figure did pick the Sooners to the Finals.
"I was watching ESPN [Wednesday]," Blake said. "[Actor] Samuel Jackson picked us in the championship game. That gave us a lot of confidence."