NORMAN — The now completely unranked Oklahoma women find themselves in, perhaps, their most important week of practice of the season.
Not a part of the media-voted Associated Press Top 25, nor the USA Today coaches poll, the Sooners (11-6, 2-2 Big 12) last played Saturday, picking up a lackluster 61-50 victory over Kansas State (6-9, 0-4), and do not play again until 1 p.m. Saturday, when they meet West Virginia in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers (14-2, 3-1) are not ranked in either poll, yet probably should be. No. 26 if the AP Top 25 were carried out to additional vote-getters, and No. 27 if the coaches poll were carried out, West Virginia has lost only to Ohio State on opening day and to No. 7 Baylor. Along the way, the Mountaineers have posted a 71-67 victory at No. 11 Oklahoma State.
After traveling to Morgantown, the most open days the Sooners will have between games the rest of the season is five, between meeting Baylor Feb. 3 in Norman and traveling to Kansas Feb. 9.
What makes this week such an important week of practice is two-fold. One, as a team struggling to find itself, the Sooners have been given the gift of time. Two, even if the Sooners weren’t struggling, the strength of their next two opponents calls for maximum preparation. After West Virginia, OU’s at No. 13 Iowa State, which beat the Sooners in overtime Jan. 5 at Lloyd Noble Center.
And, in almost alarming fashion, Sooner coach Sherri Coale, following OU’s victory over Kansas State, made it clear what part of this week of practice would be about:
“It doesn’t matter the situation, it doesn’t matter if you’ve won 12 in a row, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been picked to finish first or if you’re picked to finish last,” Coale said. “That is non-negotiable, for a champion, or, for my belief, for anyone who puts on an Oklahoma jersey.”