NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Taylor and Blake Griffin made a dynasty a part of their family at the high school level. The brothers now get to see what they can achieve together in college.
``In high school, we kind of had those moments where people were like, `How did they do that?''' Taylor Griffin said Tuesday as Oklahoma opened its preparations for an exhibition tour to Canada. ``Hopefully we can make that transition to this game.''
The Griffin brothers teamed up to lead Oklahoma Christian School to back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005, and younger brother Blake went on to win two more titles after Taylor moved on to play for the Sooners.
They were reunited once Blake, a McDonald's All-American, decided to follow Taylor to Oklahoma.
``He's been a great influence just having him here to learn from him, but I think all of the guys have just kind of told us what to expect and what to be ready for,'' Blake Griffin said. ``Everybody's just kind of sharing with each other.''
The Sooners will get a chance to build on that brotherhood over Labor Day weekend, when they're scheduled to play four exhibition games in Vancouver in a three-day span. College teams are allowed to play in foreign tours once every four years.
``This is a family. We want these guys to look at it and approach it that way,'' coach Jeff Capel said. ``We want them to mean that when they say that, not just talk about it.''
Even before the Sooners took the court for their first preseason practice, Capel sensed a closer group than a year ago. At that time, he had only been at Oklahoma for a few months and was still familiarizing himself with his players.
``This seems like a really close group. We already seem closer than we were at any time last year, and I think that's just because everyone's a little more comfortable,'' Capel said. ``We all kind of know each other.''
Oklahoma will start out thin at the point guard position. Bobby Maze, who had assumed the starter's role toward the end of last season, was dismissed from the team in April and Austin Johnson's practice time will be limited due to a back injury.
That means junior college transfer Omar Leary will begin practice in a starting role. In addition to Leary and Blake Griffin, the Sooners add guards Cade Davis and Tony Neysmith. Forward Ryan Wright will practice with the team but must sit out the upcoming season _ and the exhibition tour _ after transferring from UCLA in the off-season.
Tyson Seng, who was recruited to Oklahoma to play baseball, has also joined the team as a walk-on.
``A year and a half ago, we found out coach (Kelvin) Sampson was leaving and we were getting Jeff Capel, and nobody knew what was going to happen,'' Taylor Griffin said. ``We get through last year, and finally you start seeing all the pieces coming together.''
The Sooners lose forward Nate Carter and guard Michael Neal _ their two top scorers in Big 12 play last season _ but regain forward Keith Clark, who tore ligaments in his knee last December and missed the second half of the season.
``We have some talented new guys, our older guys got great experience last year and I definitely think there's some talent there,'' Capel said. ``We just want to try to put it all together and continue to get better every day all season long.''
8/21/2007 Sooner Basketball Begins Preparing For Labor Day Tourney