MEMPHIS — While there's at least a reasonable chance that Oklahoma's Jeff Capel will someday coach an ACC basketball program, the former Duke player didn't sound much like a jumper Thursday.
A day before the Sooners’ South Regional semifinal against Syracuse, Capel was predictably on topic and doing nothing to create unrest in his team’s locker room.
Asked what he likes most about Norman, aside from the money, wins, fans and players, Capel quickly went to his Fayetteville roots.
“The people,” he said. “I mean, it actually reminds me of North Carolina. People are all very friendly. They’re just good people and people you enjoy being around ... that’s really important to me.”
But pressed on the memories of his days in the ACC, Capel did sound a bit homesick at times.
“Growing up in North Carolina, everything revolved around basketball,” he said. “The first things I remember, it was all about the sport, but I did grow up in a coach’s home. ...
“One of my proudest memories was my senior season at Duke, when we came back from a lot of tough times to win the ACC regular-season championship. I had been the guy who was blamed for the demise of Duke basketball. My senior year, I got benched early in the season. But in the end that season, I felt like I contributed to our finish.”
With Virginia in need of a coach, Capel is frequently mentioned as a possible target. And when the season ends for the Sooners, there could be reason to look around.
The team’s top player, Blake Griffin, is expected to enter the NBA Draft and freshman guard star Willie Warren could go along. Two other starters _ Taylor Griffin and Austin Johnson _ are seniors. It’s possible that the only returning starter for ‘09-’10 will be junior guard Tony Crocker. -- Caulton Tudor