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TW - 'Crazy Ralph' knows of Daniel's joy

Discussion in 'OSU Sports Forum' started by OP 9000, Mar 19, 2004.

  1. OP 9000

    OP 9000 Administrator
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    Oct 13, 2003
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    'Crazy Ralph' knows of Daniel's joy

    By DAVE SITTLER World Sports Writer

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's not often an Oklahoma State basketball player can ignore coach Eddie Sutton and get away with it. Daniel Bobik not only did it, he remained a member of the team long enough to talk and laugh about it.

    "For the first month of the season coach Sutton called me Ralph all the time," Bobik said. "I knew he was talking to me, but I wouldn't pay attention because I wanted him to learn my name."

    There were a couple reasons for this name game of cat-and-mouse between player and coach. Sutton sometimes mixed Daniel up with his father, Ralph, who Sutton coached at Creighton. And at other times, Sutton purposely called him that because sometimes the younger Bobik's play resembled his father's, which wasn't good.

    "His nickname was 'Crazy Ralph' because he was flamboyant," Sutton recalled Thursday of the elder Bobik. "He'd try all these crazy passes. He was the first player I had who tried to throw the ball behind his back."

    Thirty-four years later, Daniel Bobik often tried to emulate his old man's fancy passing in practice and early in the season. And when he did, he heard coach yell "Ralph, don't do that!"

    In OSU's third game against Colorado State, which was played at the Mabee Center on the Oral Roberts University campus, Ralph Bobik was in the stands to watch for the first time his son play for the coach he still admires 30 years after he played his last game for Sutton.

    And wouldn't you know it? Like father, like son.

    "I threw one behind my back against Colorado State," Daniel Bobik said. "It was a really good pass, but I ran over the guy after I passed it. I'm sure coach Sutton thought I was just like my dad.

    "I can still throw crazy passes, but coach Sutton tells me to stop it."

    Daniel Bobik has more in common with his father than just his sometimes zany passing ability. He's an excellent all-around player who had a key role in OSU's stunning season. The Cowboys (27-3) are a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament as they get ready for Friday's 2 p.m. opening round game against Eastern Washington at Kemper Arena.

    "Ralph Bobik was a heck of a player," Sutton said. "He came to Creighton when he was just 17 years old. He was the biggest point guard I've ever had because he was 6-foot-7."

    Now a corporate lawyer in Tarzana, Calif., Ralph Bobik said Thursday in a telephone interview that he marvels at how father and son ended up both playing for the same coach. Sutton discovered Ralph when he was a senior at Rim of the World High School, which was situated near a mountaintop 90 miles from Los Angeles.

    Ralph was part of Sutton's second class of recruits at Creighton. He had never heard of the school before Creighton assistant coach Bob Gottlieb (the father of Doug, who played for Sutton at OSU) started recruiting him. He decided on the Bluejays because Sutton agreed he could also play for the baseball team, which was coached by Larry Cochell, who is now Oklahoma's coach.

    By Ralph's senior season, Sutton was working his coaching magic. Bobik's recruiting class helped take Sutton to his first NCAA Tournament, where the Bluejays dropped a heartbreaking 55-54 loss to Kansas in the second round of the 1974 regional at the Mabee Center.

    Thirty years later, Sutton has a team in the Big Dance for the 25th time, thanks in part to another Bobik. The 6-5 Daniel started 29 games, averaging 7.5 points and 2.7 assists per contest. A transfer from Brigham Young, Bobik is also one of OSU's best perimeter defenders.

    Ralph Bobik averaged 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in the 82 games he played for Creighton and Sutton. For years, Daniel had a poster in his bedroom that showed his father playing his final college game, that NCAA loss to the Jayhawks in Tulsa.

    "Timing is so important," Ralph Bobik said. "When I got to Creighton the timing was perfect because coach Sutton had been there only a year and we were together four years. And the timing for Daniel to be playing for coach Sutton at Oklahoma State under these circumstances is just perfect."

    The circumstances include several other transfers joining Bobik to form a team that quickly became close-knit. Like Bobik at BYU, Joey and Stevie Graham were unhappy at Central Florida. They joined Tony Allen, a junior college transfer who arrived a year earlier, and John Lucas, who hit town last August when a scandal at Baylor allowed him to transfer without sitting out.

    Ralph Bobik credits this team's ability to mesh so rapidly to Sutton. He said the 68-year-old coach approaches the game and his players much the same as he did when he was 35 and a second-year major college coach.

    "My sense is that coach Sutton hasn't changed much at all," Ralph said. "He's a smart man, and a great motivator who just gets better with age.

    "To put this team together the way he has, and certainly the way he's worked with Daniel, it's been masterful."

    After college, Ralph Bobik made a habit of calling his coach before the start of each season to wish him good luck. But when he called two years ago, he wanted to know if Sutton had any interest in letting an unhappy Daniel transfer in from BYU.

    After a two-year Mormon mission in the Dominican Republic, Daniel had grown disenchanted in two seasons at BYU. He had attended one of Sutton's summer camps when he was a teenager and often heard his father talk about his playing days at Creighton.

    "The thing I remember most about my dad talking about coach Sutton was the relationship he had with him; the love and respect he had for him," said Daniel. "And after all these years, he still considers him a close friend."

    Sutton told Ralph he'd take Daniel, but he didn't have a scholarship available. So Daniel took out college loans to pay for school the redshirt season he spent at OSU after transferring. He also pumped gas in Stillwater and Ponca City to earn the money needed to support his wife and young son.

    "Daniel's been through so much and he's worked so hard to be successful at that level," Ralph said. "And he's thrilled to death to be at Oklahoma State with coach Sutton."

    Ralph Bobik's job often enables him to make trips to watch his son play. He attended last week's Big 12 Conference Tournament in Dallas, was in Stillwater when OSU defeated Texas and hopes to attend Sunday's game here if OSU wins Friday's opener.

    The elder Bobik has already figured out a way to mix business with the pleasure of watching his son if OSU advances to the Sweet Sixteen next week in East Rutherford, N.J. And if OSU advances to the Final Four in San Antonio, Ralph said the entire Bobik clan plans to make that trip, including Daniel's mother, Sheri, and his two brothers and sister.

    "The whole Bobik wagon train is going to be in San Antonio," Ralph said. "We'll have our surf boards and everything else when they make the Final Four. And we'll be looking for a storybook ending."

    If this already storybook OSU season has a Final Four ending, Daniel won't care if Sutton calls him Ralph, or even Crazy Ralph. After all, if the Pokes are cutting down the nets in San Antonio, everyone will be going a little crazy.

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