“This team is not as talented as our team last year, but it's a way better team,” Capel said.
Blair is a major reason why. He came to OU as a desperation recruit, after Tommy Mason-Griffin bolted the program last March. When the University of New Orleans dropped from Division I after last season, Blair was free to transfer and play immediately.
Blair's transition has been rocky, but he's turning into a point guard Capel can stand to live with.
“The Sun Belt has good players,” Blair said. “But the Big 12, top to bottom, every team is good. Just have to be more focused. Never can take a night off.”
Blair has gotten better and better as the season progresses. He's fifth in the Big 12 in assists (4.4 per game) and third in conference game assists (4.6).
“Get good point guard play, it gives you a better chance to win,” Capel said. “Carl was tremendous all game, running our team, getting us into our stuff.”
The Sooners remain a long way from their previous status as Big 12 contenders. We don't even know if Capel will be back next season; the two-year apathy that has afflicted the program spread to the Sprint Center, where there weren't more than 50 apparent Sooner fans in the arena. At old Kemper Arena, it was nothing for OU to have 1,000 fans for a tournament game.
But Sooner basketball is not as destitute as it seemed earlier in the season, when it was losing to Chaminade and going to overtime with North Carolina Central.
“I feel good about where we are and where we're going,” Capel said.
That's a little optimistic, but give the Sooners this: They're going out of this season with something more than a whimper.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.