NORMAN — One thing about success?
It raises a whole new set of questions. And because the 16th-ranked Oklahoma women are 13-2 overall and 3-0 since conference play began, even after losing four players (and three starters) to injury, there is a new set of questions.
Can they keep it up? OU’s bench played 23 minutes total in Wednesday’s 85-79 thriller over TCU. Can the Sooners keep that up?
Is this the season they’re finally competitive with Baylor again, who OU meets for the first time two weeks from today in Waco? Or, can they get to Waco still unbeaten against conference foes?
They’re all good questions, yet only relevant because of a near-uprecedented five-game winning streak that began with expected victories over UC-Riverside and Cal State Northridge, but that has accelerated in league play against strong competition.
Keeping it going means beating Texas Tech, who OU tips off against at 7 tonight at Lloyd Noble Center.
The Lady Raiders aren’t ranked but perhaps they should be. At 12-3 and 2-1 against the conference, Tech owns a victory over No. 21 Oklahoma State, even in Stillwater.
OU should be challenged but will likely get a good result if it can keep doing what it’s been doing. That goes back to all those newly relevant questions, because few could have anticipated what OU is doing.
With an active roster that includes 10 players only after Tara Dunn and Eden Williams were plucked from the Sooner volleyball team, OU has played better basketball than it ever did before losing Maddie Manning and Whitney Hand to season-ending knee injuries.
Sooner coach Sherri Coale has asked her players to be “two percent” better, yet they’ve been quite a bit better than that.
That is the unprecedented part.
Before the winning streak began, junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg was averaging 16.3 points per game. Since, she has averaged 22.8, a figure that would rank fifth in the nation if she’d been doing it the whole season. Even her rebounds have gone up from 3.1 to 4.8 per game.
Point guard Morgan Hook was averaging 3.5 assists before the winning streak began. Since, she’s averaged 6.7. Additionally, she’s averaging 13.3 points in conference play, 2.4 more than her 10.9 season average.
Senior forward Joanna McFarland was averaging 5.6 points and 7.7 rebounds before the winning streak began, but has averaged 11.8 and 9.8 since.
Junior guard Sharane Campbell was averaging 5.9 points and 2.7 rebounds before the winning streak began, but has averaged 13 and 6.8 since.
Among the starters, only center Nicole Griffin’s numbers haven’t risen, but neither have they dropped. Before the winning streak they were 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. Since, they’ve been 11 and 4.8.
Despite playing so well, OU has still had to deliver in the clutch, receiving two of the best games West Virginia and TCU have played this season. They handled that, too.
Now comes Texas Tech.
“We are proud of what we’ve done. I am proud of our mentality and composure” Coale said. “We have been through a lot and to stead ourselves and play at the level we are, I am very proud of it.”
But it’s always about what’s next.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Coale said. “If you go home and stub your toe on Saturday.”
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org