By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — What’s going on inside the head of Oklahoma shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg is perpetually hard to figure. To call her public face understated is likely overstating it.
Not that she’s withdrawn.
“She was disappointed with her performance,” Sooner women’s coach Sherri Coale said, referring to OU’s trip to the Big 12 tournament. “I know that because I know her really well, but no one on the outside would be able to tell … If you walked into our practice today, you might think she had 30 in the last game.”
She did not have 30.
A first-team all-conference selection this season, in large part because of her 19-point scoring average, the junior sharpshooter was not very sharp at the conference tourney. Combined, she made just 7 of 30 shots against West Virginia and Iowa State, scoring 12 points against the Mountaineers and 11 against the Cyclones.
Cause for concern?
It doesn’t sound like it.
“Even if her shots aren’t falling, she still wants the ball,” point guard Morgan Hook said. “Even in both games, she was still asking me to call plays for her to shoot.”
Coale doesn’t mind appealing to the law of averages, which, if they hold, means OU’s NCAA tournament opponents may have much to deal with in Ellenberg.
“She doesn’t have very many bad games and she doesn’t have very many bad games in a row,” Coale said. “I think she’ll respond and shoot the ball beautifully and play really well.”
The Sooners don’t learn of their Big Dance plans until Monday night’s tournament selection show on ESPN. They’ve spent the week decompressing, healing and going through some not-too physical practices.
Thanks to the Big 12 tournament being played almost a week earlier than in the past, the Sooners should be fresher than they’ve ever been before entering the March Madness gauntlet. They’ll be hoping that freshness pays off in productivity from Ellenberg.
She’s been on tears before.
After Whitney Hand tore the ACL in her left knee, Ellenberg responded with 21, 27, 24, 19, 18, 26, 26, 22 and 33 points over the next 10 games. She hasn’t had two games as quiet as her last two since netting seven points against TCU on Jan. 30 and 12 four days later at West Virginia.
Ellenberg doesn’t think she was out of sorts at American Airlines Center last weekend. She simply believes her shots were not falling. Also, she knows she can’t keep missing them.
“I need to make shots,” she said.
Her point guard believes she will.
“She has that confidence that her shots are going to fall,” Hook said. “Great shooters aren’t going to stop shooting the ball and she knows that.”
If they fall, OU might have more than a week left in its season.
Follow me @clayhorning
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