"They’re as good as advertised,” said Taylor Griffin, Blake’s brother.
Capel admitted he was "crushed, just like our guys are,” but he refused to call this opportunity lost, though he knows it was.
Fifteen years ago, Capel was a freshman point guard for a Duke team that reached the NCAA finals. And Capel never again got the Blue Devils past the Sweet 16.
So he knows it’s gut-wrenching to get this close, only to be denied in Griffin’s final college game.
OU will miss Griffin, who put up NCAA Tournament numbers unlike anything seen since the 1960s: 28.5 points a game, 15 rebounds a game, 78
percent shooting, just a fraction shy of Christian Laettner’s tournament record.
And the Sooners most definitely will take a step back without Griffin. But it doesn’t have to be permanent. If Capel sticks around — and I believe he will until a Duke calls — the talent level can be upgraded.
Not another Griffin, but more players the caliber of Ty Lawson and Danny Green and Wayne Ellington, some of the Tar Heels who outclassed the Sooners on Sunday.
Capel refused to throw his players under the bus. "We have good players,” Capel said. "Sometimes good players don’t make plays. It stinks that we have a night like this. We don’t judge our players on what happened today.”
Nor should they. But while you can reach the Final Four with Austin Johnson at point guard, or Tony Crocker on the wing, or Taylor Griffin at power forward, the road is smoother if those positions are upgraded.
"I feel good about where we’re going,” Capel said.
The Sooners are going to life without Blake Griffin. It doesn’t have to be the end.
405-760-8080; Berry Tramel 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.