The Norman Transcript

March 22, 2011

HANDLING THE PRESSURE


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — So the name of the game is pressure. Oklahoma wants to handle Miami’s and exert its own. But what does Miami’s pressure look and feel like?

Sooner coach Sherri Coale did a pretty good job explaining it.

Off the defensive glass, most teams grab a rebound, find their point guard, hand it off and head up court. Most teams that rely on transition try to find their point guard with a quick outlet pass and hustle it up the court. Miami is in a third category.

“The biggest issue is whoever gets the rebound, goes,” Coale said. “If their four-man gets the rebound, she’s going. They just go. There could be a number of people (defensively) having to stop the ball and protect the boundary.”

The Hurricanes defensive pressure is different. Relentless, like Texas A&M’s, it’s in its own category, too.

“Their defensive tenacity is a little less predictable than, say, Texas A&M … (Miami) is chaotic in its defensive pressure. You don’t necessarily know where it’s coming from, and in that vein it reminds me a little of Ole Miss from a few years ago when we played in Dayton, just the random nature of the chaotic trap.”

Statistically, Miami’s numbers back up the pressure Coale was talking about. Opponents are averaging 24.8 turnovers a game against the Hurricanes, while ACC conference opponents averaged a flat 25 giveaways. Offensively, Miami averages 79.8 points per game and 75.5 against the ACC.

OU averages 76.1 points per game, 71.9 against the Big 12 Conference and 16.3 turnovers per game, 14.6 against the conference.

Losses?

Miami has lost four games this season: at Nebraska (99-85), at Florida State (66-59), at Duke (82-58) and to North Carolina at the ACC tournament (83-57).

OU has lost 11 games, but Miami coach Katie Meier didn’t want to hear about them.

“That is a great resume of losses right there,” she said. “So they don’t have me fooled with those losses. There are many, many teams in the country that would have lost every single one of the games Oklahoma lost.”

Even the one at Colorado?

Still, Meier’s point is well taken. Seven of OU’s losses came to teams in the top 10 (and six in the top 5): three times to Texas A&M, twice to Baylor and once to Connecticut and Ohio State. Also, dates at Arkansas, TCU and Texas Tech were never going to be easy.

A star

The whole nation knows about Danielle Robinson. On the strength of last year’s NCAA tournament, the Sooner point guard was named a preseason first-team All-American. But Miami has a star, too. Maybe two of them.

The Hurricanes have pushed both Riquna Williams and Shenise Johnson as All-American candidates this season.

Williams averages 21.9 points and 5.3 rebounds, but Johnson may stand above her. Recently named ACC player of the year, she’s averaging 19.5 points, 3.8 assists and, for a guard, an amazing 8.5 rebounds.

History

It’s not all basketball around here. Monday, a day off but for a 2 p.m. press conference and practice following, the Sooners took in a little history by visiting Monticello, the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.

About a half hour from Charlottesville, the home Jefferson lived in at Monticello, one in which he acted as his own architect, was displayed on the back of the two dollar bill from 1928 to 1966.

— Clay Horning