NORMAN — Oklahoma freshman Blake Griffin walked to his locker after last Monday's practice to find a letter.
It was from his head coach, Jeff Capel, encouraging Griffin to have more fun on the basketball court. The next day, Griffin had a one-hour meeting with assistant coach Mark Cline that generally focused on the same subject.
It seems that the tactics worked. Griffin responded with his best game of the season, 15 points and 14 rebounds in the Sooners' 72-68 win over No. 18 Gonzaga in the All-College Classic on Thursday night.
Though he admits he never had one of his coaches write him a letter before, Griffin says he wasn't surprised by it.
"Coach Capel has done things like that before,” Griffin said. "It just shows you the relationship he has with his players and everyone in this program.”
For the most part, the contents of the letter — as well as the meeting with Cline — remain private, but Griffin says it was just what he needed to hear.
"Coach Capel was just letting me know that he cares, and he's trying to help our team and me as a player,” Griffin said. "He and coach Cline were encouraging me not to worry about missing shots or making mistakes, just to go on to the next play.
"It really motivated me.”
Griffin says he has been pacing himself during games, something he grew accustomed to doing in high school, when he was often asked to play the entire game.