The Norman Transcript

January 22, 2008

The little things add up for Sooners

Small details have led to Sooner women’s recent struggles

By Clay Horning

NORMAN, Okla. — With 3:01 to play and the Oklahoma women trailing Baylor 72-68 Sunday afternoon, the teams came out of a timeout and Sooner forward Ashley Paris walked to the free-throw line to shoot twice.

Here’s some of what happened the rest of the way.

Paris hit one of two free throws.

Baylor’s Jessica Morrow scored and went to the free-throw line for a 3-point play having been fouled by Courtney Paris. She missed the free throw, but Rachel Allison grabbed the board. Baylor did not score again, yet possessed the ball for 53 seconds.

OU committed a turnover.

Between the 3-minute mark and the 33-second mark, the Sooners attempted two shots, missing both.

Danielle Robinson broke the drought with a layup. Only 21 seconds remained.

It added up to the Bears’ 84-73 victory.

The errors may appear small. Sooner coach Sherri Coale even called them “little bitty things here and there.”

However, it was in the context of their correctability. She knows better than anybody how collectively damaging such miscues can be.

“I think there are lots of places where we’re just real close,” Coale said. “You know, we miss a key blockout at a certain time, or fail to go to the right spots to execute an offensive entry, or make a bad decision on an inbound (play). Just little bitty things here and there.

“We’re not very far away from being really good, but we’re not there yet.”

It’s worth recalling that OU (11-4 , 2-2 Big 12) isn’t nearly as experienced as it might appear.

With the Paris twins, Amanda Thompson and Jenna Plumley returning from last season, the Sooners brought back 80 percent of their starting lineup. What they lost, though, was a bench that included, depending on which one of the group started amongst the youth, some five-headed combination of Leah Rush, Erin Higgins, Chelsi Welch, Britney Brown, Kendra Moore and Krista Sanchez.

“We still are young,” said Courtney Paris, who is one of only two scholarship juniors on a team with no seniors, the other being her sister Ashley.

Robinson, the Sooner freshman who’s made the most seamless transition from high school to college, averaging more than 13 points per game, has noticed a lack of execution as the clock winds down.

“I see us really close,” she said. “I think the main thing for us is, we just need to finish. We need to finish halves and we need to finish games … I think it’s just us buckling down and taking pride in our defense. We traded baskets too many times (against Baylor).”

Still, trading baskets was better than what happened over the final 3 minutes.

For Coale, the issues are stops more than baskets.

“I think it starts with, we have to defend people,” she said. “Our field goal percentage defense has not been what it has to be.”

OU will try getting more of the small things right at 7 p.m. Wednesday when Texas Tech (13-5, 1-3) visits Lloyd Noble Center.



Clay Horning writes for The Norman (Okla.) Transcript. Contact him at cfhorning@normantranscript.com