Claremore Daily Progress

August 19, 2012

COLUMN: All the little things add up

CNHI News Services

NORMAN — A long time ago when Sunny Golloway was still fairly new on the Oklahoma baseball job, I was doing a story on him and what he must have said about 85 times was, “Hey, we sweat the details.”

It is coachspeak, yes, but when you say it 85 times, it is more than that. Then, it may be a philosophy, even a culture.

Getting there requires actually sweating the details, paying attention to the mundane, simple and tedious, even a willingness to be a little boring, which is sometimes referred to as “consistency.”

Golloway’s tenure at OU would appear to bear him out. For even when the Sooners struggle, they seem to put it together in the end. At the least, it would seem, Sooner baseball eventually sweats the details.

But this is not the college baseball season and this is not a college baseball column. It’s just a starting point, a reflection sparked by Norman High football coach Greg Nation, who spent about 10 minutes talking to his team about “the little things,” or the “little bitty things,” following the Tigers’ Friday night scrimmage at Bixby, where they shared the field with the host Spartans, Owasso, Ponca City and Tulsa East Central.

“It’s the little things,” Nation said. “You can’t lose your technique because you want to make a sack 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.”

He said more than that.

He implored his seniors to bring the underclassmen along. He implored the underclassmen to take the lead and then do the right things, anyway.

Eventually, after departing his team and handling a post-scrimmage interview, he talked about wearing the right socks and keeping your locker clean and showing up on time.

Before he’d left his huddled team, he even mentioned the issues that just keep hitting the biggest football program in town.

It was probably on Nation’s mind because it was earlier Friday that Oklahoma announced defensive tackle Stacy McGee had been indefinitely suspended for what is being termed a violation of university policy.

Not to mention it’s only been a little while since Bob Stoops announced that receivers Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks and defensive back Quentin Hayes would be allowed back on the roster, but were still suspended from games; and that receiver Kameel Jackson, also in OU football purgatory, would not return to the program.

The message holds for Norman North football as well. Thursday night in a scrimmage against Edmond Santa Fe, the Timberwolves were stunningly good, outscoring the Wolves 17-13.

Still, even on a night it was preseason for the referees, too, evidenced by their excessive willingness to throw flags for unsportsmanlike conduct for the tiniest infraction, the T-Wolves nonetheless committed those tiny infractions after plays were done. Also, had North wrapped up and finished off a sack here and maintained deep coverage there, it might have prevailed in a walk.

Even when things are going well, little things are left to be ironed out.

Want to see an organization fantastic with the little things? Check out the Oklahoma City Thunder.

From the players, for whom everybody raves about their work ethic and who always say the right things; to their coach, who was caught telling it exactly like it was during a timeout in the waning moments of OKC’s Game 5 loss at Miami; to the front office, led by general manager Sam Presti, which Saturday announced the signing of Serge Ibaka to a long term deal.

Ibaka didn't have to sign and almost certainly left money on the table he might have picked up in free agency following next season. But that he did says something about him, as well as the organization, which never seems to waste any time, nor opportunity to tend to its issues, pressing and upcoming.

Life is often about the details.

Sports, almost always.

Everybody means to be tedious, meticulous and responsible. Few manage.

Want to know how your favorite team’s going to fare?

Watch the little things.