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Evidence is thin OU basketball coach Jeff Capel can maintain a top-level program

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 21, 2011 at 10:23 am •  Published: January 20, 2011

Joe Castiglione stands behind his basketball coach. Joe C. might do the same even if he wasn't pulling for Jeff Capel to succeed, which Castiglione most certainly is.

Athletic directors don't like to fire coaches. It's a hassle. And sometimes, switching coaches doesn't work anyway.

So Capel's stunningly-quick fall from grace might play out another Sooner basketball season. That wouldn't please some in the OU administration, and I don't know how it could please the hearty fans who darken the door at Lloyd Noble Center.

Capel's fifth Sooner team doesn't stink as bad as we thought it did, but OU is 9-9 overall, 1-3 in the Big 12 and headed for no more than two or three additional victories. The Sooners beat Texas Tech the other night and might beat Colorado on Saturday. But even a repeat of last season's 13-18, 4-12 finish seems optimistic.

The OU-Tech game was one of the worst Big 12 games I've ever seen in terms of team quality. Of course, we've been spoiled around here. Sooners nor Cowboys have much of a history of bad hoops; this level of play is startling to see live.

“I believe in me,” Capel said the other night when I asked if he was confident the Sooners could build off beating Tech. “I believe in us. I believe in what we're teaching. If they learn to do things the right way, I'm confident. I'm always confident.”

I believe him. But is anyone else confident in Capel? Why would anyone be?

A coach on this level is paid a lot of money and asked to do four things: win ballgames, fill the seats, graduate as many players as possible and keep NCAA investigators as far from campus as possible.

Capel is 0-for-4.

* The Sooners are headed for their second straight dismal Big 12 finish. The glory days of Blake Griffin seem long ago and far away.

* Lloyd Noble Center has been half full, at best, for most games, though considering the product, you have to salute Sooner fans. The question is not, where is everyone? The question is, why are you here?

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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