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October 27, 2010

OU men’s hoops put in work

NORMAN — Oklahoma basketball coach Jeff Capel arrived at his office at 5:30 a.m. Monday for the first of two practices. About 10 minutes later, he was stunned.

“By 5:40, I think every guy on our team was out on the floor,” Capel said. “I was shocked to see that and really happy about that. These guys have had the right attitude every day.”

That is expected to be the biggest change in Oklahoma basketball from last season to this season. The Sooners aren’t shy about putting in the work.

Capel talked about it Tuesday during his team’s media day at Lloyd Noble Center. His players echoed it.

“We all push each other,” guard Steven Pledger said. “We all push each other to see who can get to the gym first, who can get to the locker room first, who can shoot the most shots. We push ourselves in every aspect of the day.”

It’s the kind of competitiveness that was missing last season. A year ago, the Sooners seemed like a collection of individuals more than 12 guys sharing a common visiion on the way to a 13-18 season. Turning that mindset around is one thing OU’s counting on for this season.

Exhibition play begins at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 against Northern State, but that change has already taken hold.

“Everyone is unselfish,” guard Cade Davis said. “We care about the team. We care about the program. We care about getting better as a team.”

The Sooners only have four scholarship players back from last season’s roster. They only had six going through workouts last spring. Both those who were still around made a decision.

“We’re not going to have another season like this,” guard Steven Pledger said. “I didn’t come to college, I didn’t come here to play for coach Capel, I didn’t come to the University of Oklahoma to play like we played last year. We wanted to change all that up.”

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