|Oklahoma coach Capel find role models in civil rights movement heroes|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 22 March 2008 13:13|
``I look at those people as the real heroes,'' Capel said Saturday. ``I look at people like my grandfather, who organized sit-ins in North Carolina and did different things like that, just so people could have basic freedom. I think now people take that for granted.''
Capel, at 33 one of the nation's youngest coaches, addressed the subject in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. The arena is blocks from the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four black girls were killed in a 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing, and a nationally known civil rights museum.
The coach has been watching the ESPN special ``Black Magic,'' which tells the story of pioneering black players in college basketball and the NBA. Capel said he got ``emotional'' watching the show and felt the weight of those who have come before him.
Capel remembers criticism for not having ``paid his dues'' when he was named Virginia Commonwealth's coach at the age of 27.
``And I would constantly say, 'You know, Ben Jobe paid my dues, coach (John) McLendon, Big House Gaines, those guys,' because of what they had to go through and endure to allow myself or Tubby Smith or Paul Hewitt, guys like us to have an opportunity to be head coaches at major programs,'' Capel said.
During the tough times at Oklahoma, which has had its ups and downs in two years under Capel, he has taken solace in the path of Jackie Robinson. His wife bought him a poster of the man who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947 for Christmas. It hangs framed on his wall.
``It was in his contract that he couldn't complain,'' Capel said. ``And you look at the pioneer that he was for all black athletes. There's no reason to ever complain. You have to find a way. That's life.''
UPSETS AND INJURIES: The Tampa pod has produced plenty of aches and pains to go along with all those upsets.
Connecticut guard A.J. Price tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a loss to San Diego on Friday, and several others came away either sore, sick or limping.
San Diego's Brandon Johnson endured severe cramps and a sprained ankle, and teammate De'Jon Jackson, who hit the winning shot against the Huskies, played through tendinitis in both knees.
``This opportunity comes once in a lifetime so I got to take advantage of it,'' Johnson said Saturday. ``So when the ball goes up, all injury is out the window.''
Added Jackson: ``My knees are real bad. It's always hurting. But being in the NCAA tournament, you've got to play through it. You've got to be tough, so I'll be ready.''
Siena guard Kenny Hasbrouck left Friday's game against Vanderbilt after spraining his left ankle. Hasbrouck also injured his shoulder in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.
``My shoulder's OK,'' he said Saturday. ``It's not sore at all right now. My ankle's a little sore, but it's perfectly fine for the game.''
Villanova's Dwayne Anderson was in such rough shape he missed part of the his team's victory against Clemson.
Anderson's left calf started cramping, then his other leg did the same. After needing to be helped off the floor, trainers gave him a Powerade. He started stretching, hoping to get back in the game, but felt sick and had to run to a trash can.
``It was just my whole body had spasms and I was cramping,'' said Anderson, who also passed out at one point. ``I never had this feeling before.''
Anderson ended up getting intravenous fluids, then returned to the bench just in time to enjoy the Wildcats' victory.
LUCKY 13: Not everyone gets to be part of something like a No. 13 seed winning its first-round game in the NCAA Tournament.
So count Siena forward Josh Duell as someone particularly lucky.
He's done it twice - with two different schools, to boot.
Duell was a freshman at Vermont when the 13th-seeded Catamounts defeated fourth-seeded Syracuse - a 13 seed beating a 4 - in the first round of the NCAAs three years ago. Duell then transferred to Siena, which got the 13th seed in the Midwest Region this year and took down Vanderbilt 83-62 on Friday night.
``It's a little different,'' Duell said. ``When we beat Syracuse, I didn't play. (Against Vanderbilt) I played a lot.''
Duell played 31 minutes against Vanderbilt, grabbing four rebounds. He didn't score.
Siena (23-10 plays Villanova on Sunday in Tampa.
TRY AGAIN, GARY: Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin has been here before - sort of.
Ervin ran the show three years ago at Mississippi State and guided the ninth-seeded Bulldogs into a second-round matchup with mighty Duke in Charlotte. The Blue Devils eliminated Mississippi State.
Ervin, who transferred to Arkansas, now has the ninth-seeded Razorbacks facing a similarly difficult task, facing No. 1 North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C.
``It's the same situation,'' Ervin said Saturday. ``It's going to be a road game (so) you've just got to play smart. When you play against a great team like that, and you're playing on the road, close to their university, you've got to minimize your mistakes. That's the only way to win the basketball game - play smart basketball. The team that gets the most possessions and plays smart is the team that's going to win.''
NO CUPCAKES: Stephen Curry was asked which of Davidson's opponents played the most physical defense.
``I'd say UCLA was,'' Curry answered.
There weren't many cupcakes on Davidson's non-Southern Conference schedule, which featured, No. 1 seeds North Carolina and UCLA and No. 2 seed Duke.
No, the Wildcats didn't beat any of them - they lost all three by an average of seven points - but coach Bob McKillop's team gained a measure of confidence simply by hanging tough. Now, he hopes it pays off Sunday against 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert and Georgetown.
``I'd be foolish not to allude to the fact that our guys have played against (UCLA's) Kevin Love and (North Carolina's) Tyler Hansbrough ... not that we did anything extraordinary against them, but we hung in there with them,'' McKillop said. ``Yeah, we came out on a losing end, but we learned some valuable lessons.''
RIFLE MAN: How do you get a gun inside an arena hosting the NCAA tournament in the nation's capital? Not without difficulty, even if it's part of your costume as a school mascot.
Brady Campbell, a senior at West Virginia, attends every game dressed in buckskin clothes and a coonskin hat. In addition to sporting a very thick beard that is very much real, Campbell carries a gunpowder holder and a vintage rifle.
All were on display this week at the Verizon Center, where the Mountaineers played in the West Regional.
Upon entering the arena, Campbell received more than a mere cursory inspection from security guards at the gate.
``They had to make sure the gun wasn't operable and that I really didn't have any gunpowder,'' he said. ``Funny, but the first time I went to Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament, they didn't even look at it.''
EASTER SUNDAY: It's unusual that the NCAA tournament falls on Easter Sunday and teams are making different plans to mark the holiday.
Butler and Oklahoma are planning small services for players. Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens, who has a 2-year-old son, said his team's taking it farther with help from his wife, Tracy.
``I know my wife's working on an Easter egg hunt for the little kids, so we'll make sure the little ones who are with us are taken care of and know the Easter Bunny comes to Birmingham,'' Stevens said.
AP Sports Writers Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., Chris Talbott in Birmingham, Ala., and Mark Long, Fred Goodall and Tim Reynolds in Tampa, Fla., contributed.