The Award-Winning Magazine Offering The Most Complete Coverage of Sooner Sports
  HOME FEATURE STORY SUBSCRIBE OU SPORTS IN THE NEWS COVER ARCHIVE WRITERS CONTACT US      ADVERTISE
More Recent Stories

Road Warrior

To The Point

King's Corner

The Draft

To The Point

NFL Bound

Looking Back: Billy Vessels

Road Warrior

King's Corner

NFL Spotlight

Boomer Bio

Lincoln Riley Q&A

Keys To Success

End of an Era

Stepping Down

Dominating Force

2017 Recruiting

OU finished off a memorable 2016 season on high note

Road Warrior

Emmanuel Beal Q&A

Fast & Furious

Road Warrior

OU vs. Texas: By The Numbers

King's Corner

Steven Parker Q&A

Orlando Brown Q&A

Speed Burner

King's Corner

Next Step

Welcome Home

QB Questions?

Common Cause

Right on Target

Flying High at No. 1

Headed North

Playoff Bound

Dominique Alexander Q&A

California Connection

Red River Rejuvenation

To The Point

Ty Darlington Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Sooner Flashback: Jakie Sandefer

Next Generation

Hiring Time

Sooners hire new offensive coordinator

Samaje Perine Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Mike Stoops Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

All in the Family

Road Warrior

On Point

King's Corner

Sugar Bowl Review

Editorial

OU to meet Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Josh Heupel Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio

The Closer

Sooner Success

Mike Stoops Q&A

Bill Bedenbaugh Q&A

Spring Football Review

Spring Football Review

To The Point

Boomer Bio: Julian Wilson

Boomer Bio: Chuka Ndulue

Boomer Bio: Bronson Irwin

Jalen Saunders Q&A

Patience Rewarded

Boomer Bio: Sterling Shepard

Taylor-made for Oklahoma

Tony Jefferson Q&A

Attention Getter

A Change of Plans

A Change of Plans

Proud Heritage

Hot Commodity

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio: Aaron Ripkowski

Cornerstone

Playmaker

Playmaker

Strictly Striker

Javon Harris Q&A

Boomer Bio: Austin Haywood

Locked In & Loaded

Ben Habern Q&A

Landry Jones Q&A

The Classics

Top Ten Recruits

Bonus Prospects

Oklahoma Influences

Tight End Tough

Marquis On The Mark

Sooner Stars Set To Return

Jeremy Beal Q&A

Jamell Fleming Q&A

Boomer Bio: Trey Millard

Stacy McGee Q&A

Red River Tradition

Red River Tradition

James Patton Q&A

Boomer Bio: Eric Mensik

Quarterback Race

Quarterback Race

Boomer Bio: Kenny Stills

Boomer Bio: Marshall Musil

Getting His Kicks

Making The Right Moves In Recruiting

Bradford looks sharp in workout

No Doubt About It

Boomer Bio: Willie Martinez

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Norman Bound

Showdown In The Sun

Jay Norvell Q&A

Jay Norvell Q&A

Boomer Bio: Dejuan Miller

Adrian Taylor doing just fine

Joseph Ibiloye Q&A

The Real Deal

Road Warrior

Meet Dusty Dvoracek This Saturday!

Casey Walker Q&A

Best of The Red River Rivalry

Bradford To Start Against Baylor

Facebook & Football

Tackling Machine

Keith Jackson Appearing this Friday in Norman

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio: Stephen Good

Top Targets

Brent Venables Q&A

Boomer Bio: Cory Brandon

Tisdale and Griffin

Wayman Tisdale Dies

Sam Bradford Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Blake Griffin earns Naismith Award

Ryan Reynolds Q&A

The Wait Is Over

Outlook for 2009

Outlook for 2009

Staying Put

Bradford, Gresham, Williams Coming Back

Make Room For Sam

Lendy Holmes Q&A

Bradford Wins Heisman

Heisman Material

Boomer Bio: Frank Alexander

Sooners Headed To KC For Big 12 Title Game

Sudden Impact

Sudden Impact

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Offensive linemen Roundtable

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Travis Lewis Q&A

Travis Lewis Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Jackie Shipp Q&A

Bob Stoops Q&A

Boomer Bio

Theyve Got It Covered

Bradford Talks About Sooner Experience

Big Dreams

Plenty Of Things To Chew on this Offseason

Marcus Walker Q&A

Looking Ahead

Greater Expectations

Manny Being Manny

The Big Easy

Super Sidekick

English Lesson

Revved Up & Remodeled

Firmly Committed

A Cut Above

The Definition of Rivalry

On The Rise

Irresistible Force

Bookends

Bradford Named Starting QB

Venables Verbatim

Sooner Spectator & Rivals.com Teaming Up

Final Chapter

Catching Up With Sumlin

Welcome Back Little Joe

Wilson’s Defensive Wisdom

Reggie Smith Q&A

Malcolm Over The Middle

Fantastic Five

Thompson & Alexander To Sign Autographs

WE'RE BACK!!!!

GET READY FOR THE RETURN OF SOONER SPECTATOR!

OU’s Greatest

Boomer Bio: Brody Eldridge

Boomer Bio: Fred Strong

Dual Threat: Stephen Garcia

Thirty Reasons Why OU will beat Texas

Double Duty

Kody Cooke: A Conversation

Boomer Bio: Lendy Holmes

Welcome Back

Quick Five With Nic Harris

Road Warrior

The Opposition

Defensive Backing

Recruiting: Crimson Bloodline

Wilson Weighs In

Replacing Runnels?

Defensive Outlook

Top Shelf: Austin Box

Rufus Revelations

Reaction to Capel Hiring

A.D. Unscripted

OU will miss Sampson

OU Scrimmage Report

Joey Halzle Q&A

Gray, OU prep for The Dance

Moore is Better

Sooners eye stretch run

Haskell remains a lost treasure

Boomer Bio: Patty Gasso

Sherri Coale Conversation

Taylor Made

Future Considerations

McCoy becomes a Sooner

Michael Neal Q&A

Recruiting: Dominique Franks Q&A

Strong Willed

Football Recruiting Notes

Remembering Billy Ball

Enough Gloom & Doom

Back In Business

Endowed Scholarships Announced

USC or Texas: The Lesser of Two Evils?

Stoops is not leaving OU

Sooners down Ducks in Holiday Bowl

Biding His Time

Kelvin Sampson Q&A

Next Stop Division I

Boomer Bio: Allen Patrick

Chris Messner Q&A

Bob Stoops' take on Bedlam Victory

Terrance Anderson's Journey

OU vs. Tech: The Answers

OU vs. Tech Matchups

Road Warrior

Stoops talks about OU's 36-30 win

OU vs. A&M matchups

OU Coaches’ Roundtable

Recruiting: Derek Burton

Boomer Bio: Juaquin Iglesias

Carl Pendleton Q&A

Sooners topple Huskers in Lincoln

OU-Nebraska Matchups

Recruiting: Ugo Chinasa

Sooners top Baylor

OU vs. Baylor Matchups

Recruiting: Offensive Line

Recruiting: Adron Tennell

Sooners top Jayhawks

OU vs. Kansas Matchups

Boomer Bio

A Pleasant Conversation

Texas tops Oklahoma

Red River Rivarly Matchups

Dusty Dvoracek: In The Trenches

Sooners Roll Past K-State

OU vs. K-State Matchups

Recruiting: Replenishing The Backfield

Boomer Bio

Sooners give one away

Recruiting Demarco Murray

C.J. Ah You Q&A

The Answers: OU vs. Tulsa

Not Pretty, But Sooners Win

Spectator Sneak Preview

Bob Stoops' take on TCU loss

Texas Christian Sacks Sooners

Moses leads Sooner tight ends

Rufus Alexander Q&A

Thompson gets nod at QB

Birdine Lost For Season

Sampson to Visit Kuwait for Hoops with Troops

Walk-on making noise at WR

Travis Wilson Q&A

Clint Ingram Q&A

Sooners open fall practice

Brent Venables Q&A

Sooner single-game tickets go on sale Monday

Questions about Sooners' aura not surprising

Joseph talks about summer workouts

OU at Big 12 Media Days

Kim Named to U.S. Walker Cup Team

Sooners name Golloway

Stephenson decides to stay at Wichita State

Stephenson takes OU head baseball job

Soon to be Sooners

New Sooner Nic Harris excited about new digs

2005 Season Preview Issue Available Now!!

Letter from the Editor

Q and A

Ever Elusive

Sooner Selections

Ole Miss powers past Sooners

OU's Weekly Sports Report

OU inks JUCO point guard

OU's Kim wins Big 12 Golf Title

White and Vermeil talk about first day of rookie camp

White gets a chance with Kansas City

Red Rallies to Down White

Big crowd expected

Prelude To Greatness?

Breaking Down The Offense

Spring football eases pain




On Sale at Newsstands Now!
Kelvin Sampson Q&A
OU Boss talks about keys to climbing the mountain

In years past, Kelvin Sampson’s name popped up regularly on the national radar screen as a possible candidate for jobs other than the one he owned and loved at Oklahoma. No matter how many times the veteran coach denied having any interest in leaving Norman, speculation concerning Sampson’s future destination was unavoidable.

But that was then, a period during the late 1990s before Sampson had been given time to reestablish Oklahoma basketball as a national power. These days, there are few coaches as entrenched in their jobs and devoted to their programs as is the Sooner boss.

The only discussions concerning Sampson’s possible departure over the last few seasons has centered around which NCAA regional site his team might be flying to come March.

Over the last six seasons, only five Division-I programs have averaged more wins than Sampson’s Sooners. During that span, OU has captured three Big 12 Tournament titles, a regular-season crown and made a trip to the NCAA Final Four.

To say Sampson is proud of his program’s accomplishments and excited about the future would be a major understatement. But just to make sure, Sooner Spectator editor Jay C. Upchurch sat down with Sampson recently to discuss a few topics.

Sooner Spectator: What’s the most difficult aspect of being a Division-I basketball coach?

Kelvin Sampson: I’d probably say maintaining a good balance in your life, not allowing what you do for a living to define who you are as a person. I believe you really have to work at that. As you get older, it becomes more clear that you have to live your life. We all have occupations and careers, but the most important thing you have going is your family and all that that entails.

SS: What is it about this Oklahoma program that has captured your imagination and kept you here for 12 years?

Sampson: I think it’s a good fit. It has been from the start. You want to be at a place where people appreciate you and you feel like you have a chance to succeed. We have that here at Oklahoma and we’ve had good kids. I love to coach, but I don’t enjoy every aspect of the job. I enjoy being on the floor with a whistle around my neck, motivating and pushing a group of kids to reach deep inside for that something extra. To see a kid all of the sudden have the light come on and see his face and the way he responds — there is a feeling of completeness that comes from that.

We’ve been consistently successful during my time here at Oklahoma. If you are not successful at this level, obviously, it’s not going to be much fun. We’ve created — through the Information Highway, through March Madness and through the media — a crazy standard. And it’s taken the fun out of it for a lot of coaches. Every year, I write down on a 3x5 index card, ‘Don’t forget why you got into this profession.’ Don’t let other people define who you are. You can’t allow winning or losing a game, or somebody else’s definition of success define who you are. That’s important.

SS: How do you define your style of basketball?

Sampson. Honestly, my style has always been the same — it’s winning. I’ve always determined my style by what the scoreboard says.

SS: What characteristics are the foundation of a Kelvin Sampson-coached team?

Sampson: First of all, competitiveness. We build our program on competitive kids who do things the right way. Your life is a lot more simple when you do things the right way. Kids are going to make mistakes. We all are going to make mistakes. But you can always tell when their hearts are in the right place. We look for quality young men who you’ll be proud to have representing your university, your family. They have to buy into that fact.

SS: What is it about this current group that you like the most?

Sampson: Their spirit. They play hard and they have great chemistry. We have quality young men playing here. These are really high-level kids. They are all going to graduate from here and they will all be successful in their lives because of who they are. This bunch has really blended together. I can always tell we have great chemistry when our players demonstrate they know when to shoot and when to pass. That’s always defined our chemistry. It’s great that they get along well together, but that kind of stuff can be overrated. Give me a team that knows when to pass and when to shoot and I’ll show you a team with good chemistry.

SS: What are some of the other strengths of the 2005-06 Sooners?

Sampson: We’ll be able to rebound the ball. We’re going to be very athletic. We are going to be a good defensive team. We aren’t where I want to be yet, but we’re getting better. You can make an argument that we’re never where I want us to be defensively, but I can definitely see daily improvements and we’ll eventually get there. I also believe this team is going to generate a lot of easy baskets with our defense. You can’t be a great offensive team or shoot a high percentage unless you are shooting layups and creating easy baskets. That usually comes from offensive rebounds and getting fastbreaks.

SS: Is this program in the best shape it has been in during your time here?

Sampson: I’ve always felt good about this program. I felt good about it before we went to the Final Four and I felt strongly about it after that. Even the year we went to the NIT, I understood that. This isn’t Nirvana. When you have an injury or you’re missing a key player, you usually get sympathy from the fans and the media for a couple of games. After that, they want to know what’s wrong. We did a lot of good things, made a lot of progress as a program during that season, especially down the stretch when we won three of our last four and almost beat Texas (in the Big 12 Tournament). It may not have shown to the naked eye, but that team came a long way and that was important to our success last season.

We’ve got a lot of good people involved in this program. And we’re getting ready to sign an outstanding group of recruits, so we are going to be good this season. And we are going to be good next season and the season after that. Where are we at as a program? We’re very, very strong.

SS: So, is the ultimate goal for this program always going to be winning a national title?

Sampson: Yes. Our goal will always be to work toward that goal. I don’t believe that is unrealistic. We’ve been to the mountain top. We’ve seen it. We just weren’t able to stick a flag in it. Our goal is to get back on that mountain and to climb to the top and not leave until we stick a flag in there.

SS: Does this team have what it takes to do that?

Sampson: Why not? I don’t think we are the best team in the country right now, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is how you improve and get better incrementally over the course of the season. We’re not as good today as we will be on December 2, or January 2. One of the main trademarks of this program over the years has been its ability to make significant improvement as the season unfolds. That will again be a key for this year’s team.

(Editor's Note: This interview originally appeared the SS basketball preview issue.)