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These Sooners are still growing, improving
Capel getting the most out of a limited, young roster

By George Schroeder Published: February 8, 2007
NORMAN — Shortly after the final buzzer, an elderly fan grabbed Joe Castiglione by the arm.

"Great coach,” the fan said. "Great coach. You did a great job.”


The athletic director just smiled. And nodded.

Oklahoma's 67-60 Bedlam win was the Sooners' latest over a more talented team. And the latest reason Castiglione is feeling pretty good.

Jeff Capel is working out pretty well, don't you think?

Admit it. When Castiglione announced the hire last spring, you wondered if Capel still had some eligibility left. And otherwise, just what Castiglione was doing handing the reins to a 31-year-old.

Well, Capel turns 32 on Monday. And his basketball team is growing up in a hurry.

With a short bench and long odds, the Sooners have scratched their way above .500 in Big 12 play.

No, this team isn't headed for the NCAA Tournament — although its first win over a ranked team, even a fading one, is a very good development.

The NIT still beckons.

Just don't tell the Sooners.

Don't tell them they don't have enough talent to compete in the Big 12. Don't let them hear Kelvin Sampson left a bare cupboard, that they're a year away.

"Get the most out of what you have,” Castiglione said. "He's got 'em believing they can win.”

And somehow, winning games they probably shouldn't.

We've heard and said a lot about how thin Oklahoma State's roster is — and no question, it's skin deep. But OU doesn't have a lot of guys in uniform, either. Just nine on scholarship.

And there are fewer, well, players.

But Capel keeps getting something out of a very limited roster. And his team keeps changing.

"It's a learning process,” he said. "I try not to put roles in stone, because it's an evolving thing.

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