I just isn't natural for a guy to be able to do this with a
broken leg and yet Longar played 27 minutes Wednesday night.
Strike up the Gospel music and put on your Sunday best because there's a revival in town and Jeff Capel is playing the role of the traveling evangelist/faith healer. Going into Wednesday night's game against Iowa State there were several things that were broken and not working. Longar's right leg, defense, outside shooting, free throw shooting and guard play in general were all dysfunctional resulting in the Sooner Basketball Schooner being broke down and left for dead midway through the conference season.
Obviously a miracle was needed to keep Oklahoma's tournament hopes alive and Jeff Capel delivered in a big way. By tweaking the rotation a little bit and finding the cure to Longar's broken bone Capel was able to resurrect OU's perimeter offense and defensive games leading the Sooners to a 76-64 victory over the Cyclones.
By giving Tony Neysmith and Cade Davis eight and seventeen minutes respectively the Sooners' guard combination took on a different dynamic resulting in a much better shooting performance for a group that had been bone dry for two weeks now. OU guards combined to go 7-for-15 from three point range sparking Oklahoma's offense. Neysmith and Davis also contributed 4 and 11 points respectively turning their playing time into quality minutes.
Maybe it was extra time on the bench to clear their minds or perhaps get their legs fresh again but the extra time given to Neysmith and Davis propelled Tony Crocker to his best game ever as a Sooner (22 points) and Austin Johnson turned in a respectable 13 points.
The biggest miracle of the night though was the play of Longar Longar. In case you've relocated under a rock recently, Longar has a broken bone in his right leg and missed the Texas and Colorado games. While he wasn't a scoring machine Wednesday night (6 points) and seemed a little rusty at times his presence was felt on the boards and on the defensive end of the floor. Not bad for a guy who wasn't supposed to even be playing.
One of the questions I am frequently asked is how I feel about Jeff Capel? While I grow more and more impressed with Oklahoma's young coach his best quality is that his players love him and want to play for him. January 14th Blake Griffin suffered a knee injury and was supposed to be out for up to six weeks. Twelve days later he led the Sooners to a road victory over Baylor. February 2nd Longar suffered the injury to his right leg and was supposed to be out indefinitely. Eleven days later he is contributing in a Sooner victory over Iowa State. Coaches have to know their X's and O's and be able to recruit good talent, both of which Capel has proven to be able to do, but when he possesses the respect and admiration of his players like Jeff Capel does then anything is possible. Even miracles.