OU, Navy SEAL train together
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
10/30/12 at 5:46 AM
NORMAN - The thing Sam Grooms remembers is being submerged from the neck down in water more fit for polar bears, and then crawling along the ground like sloths.
"In mud," said Amath M'Baye, Grooms' Oklahoma basketball teammate. "They had me lifting logs."
"Big 60-pound logs that you had to carry as a group," Grooms said. "You had to turn a certain way. You couldn't cheat the drill."
Cheating at anything when you're being trained by a Navy SEAL is a particularly bad idea. Which is why the Sooners took their recent session with SEAL chief special warfare operator Rob Stella last month very seriously.
"It was for real," Grooms said. "Everything that he said was true. He said he was gonna find out a lot about us in a short amount of time. He did."
The key was for the Sooners to learn just as much about themselves. The idea is that will pay off as the 2012-13 season grinds into February.
OU went 1-8 over that month last year. The Sooners made a habit of playing teams close for a while, then fading late. They've done that a lot, actually, since Blake Griffin left school. Their February record over the past three years is 3-21.
It is a program crying for toughness. So when word got out that Stella was going to be available, well, why not?
"The lacrosse team on campus, their coach called us and said, 'Hey, we've got the SEALs coming in. Would you guys like to partake?'" OU coach Lon Kruger said. "I checked with the players and they were very intrigued by it."
So Sept. 11, both men's and women's basketball teams joined lacrosse players and members of OU's ROTC. They pushed around monster truck tires and logs that looked more like telephone poles. They did pushups and bear-crawled under bridges formed by their teammates.
Stella oversaw the two-hour session, barking things like: "You learn to play out of your comfort zone, your opponents will not be able to match you." And: "Situational awareness, confidence in yourself and your teammates, and resiliency. You've got those, you've got the recipe for success."
"It was different, the way we went about things, the way we had to repeat things. It was good for us," guard Steven Pledger said. "It boosted team unity. It brought us closer together."
The Sooners don't push tires around Allen Fieldhouse, or logs across Gallagher-Iba Arena. But then, that wasn't really the point.
"I don't know if that one day of physical stuff will be the difference in a game," guard Tyler Neal said. "But I think just taking that and building on it each day, yeah, I think it'll help."
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355