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Keys to Sooner Basketball Success in 08/09 Almost in Place

The success of Oklahoma's men's basketball team next season hinges greatly on three factors - Jeff Capel, Willie Warren and Blake Griffin. Together they can push OU even closer to the top of the conference and deeper into the NCAA tournament. However, remove one of the pieces from this puzzle and it becomes a totally different story.

OU put to rest any rumors that Jeff Capel would be leaving Oklahoma to become the next head coach for South Carolina by giving him a $300,000 per year raise and extending his contract through 2014. Capel will now make a base salary of $1.05 million per year plus incentives for things like winning 20 games, conference championships and advancing in the NCAA tournament.

Oklahoma's guard play could be described as erratic at best this season. When shots were falling for the guards OU was always in a position to win. On the other hand when they went ice cold so did any chance the Sooners had at winning. Now, enter Willie Warren a 6-4 guard from North Crowley High School, TX. Warren has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor. He can dribble penetrate or pull up for an outside jumper. His ability to move to open spaces without the ball makes him even more dangerous.

Willie Warren dominated the McDonald’s All-American game with 23
points in less than 22 minutes of playing time.

Now the only thing remaining is an announcement from Blake Griffin regarding his status for the NBA draft. Speculation is that he'll return one more season to play with big brother, Taylor. Blake still needs to work on his mid-range jumper and free throw shooting before he would have a shot at becoming an NBA All-Star and what better way to do that than with another NBA prospect on the floor with him drawing away some of the attention.

Oklahoma has a chance to be really good next season in basketball if just a few simple things fall into place. The priority now is convincing Griffin, who nearly averaged a double-double, to return for a sophomore campaign. He has until April 27th to declare and has already stated that he'll take a few weeks to make a decision. Until then we'll just wait as patently as we can while sitting on pins and needles.