Ford, Capel Talk about Big 12 Tournament

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:15 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Mar 7, 2011 8:44 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY – The territory is unfamiliar for both teams and might seem odd for fans.

Despite having a season to get used to it, it will still be strange for people to look at this week’s Big 12 tournament bracket and see Oklahoma State as a No. 9 seed and Oklahoma at No. 10.

It might seem like forever ago that Travis Ford had his Cowboys in the NCAA tournament as a 7-seed, but it was less than one year ago.

It also seems like more than two years ago when AP Player of the Year Blake Griffin had his Sooners in the Elite Eight as a 2-seed.

But OU coach Jeff Capel said he can see positive points in this year’s team despite the rough record.

“Obviously we wanted to win more, we wanted to have more success with wins and losses, but I think just like my first year here,” He said. “We set a pretty good foundation for how hard we have to work, how hard we have to play moving forward.”

Ford, whose team finished the season with a loss to the Sooners in Norman, had a little more trouble finding something positive about his team.

He said he thought previous wins against Texas Tech and Baylor meant his team had turned the corner, but the loss to OU was a setback.

“We’re not playing great right now,” Ford said. “We understand as a team how much better we are going to have to compete to come away with a win from (the tournament) in order to even have a chance and we understand that.”

While winning the Big 12 tournament and gaining an NCAA tournament bid might be a stretch (no 5-12 seed has ever won the Big 12 tournament), there is still something to play for.

“It’s plain and simple,” Ford said. “We’re not really happy with ourselves right now and shouldn’t be. We need to put everything else aside and what’s happened in the past we need to learn from it and concentrate on playing better, playing harder, competing on Wednesday.”

The Cowboys take on the 8-seed Nebraska Cornhuskers on Wednesday in the opening round of the tournament at 11:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, Capel and the Sooners will start with the Baylor Bears on Wednesday. Their tipoff is set for 6 p.m.

Regardless of whether OU advances in the Big 12 tournament, Capel said his team’s success in spurts this season has laid a foundation for next year.

“We’ve gained some invaluable experience for these young guys on our basketball team and they’ve had a small bit of success when we won those four games in row,” Capel said.

“We’ve had some adversity, but I think all of those things are going to make them tougher, hungrier and more prepared to take the next step which is to get to the postseason.”