NORMAN — They called it Friday Night Tailgate and it was a unique outing for the Oklahoma women.
In front of their booster club and many season-ticket holders, the Sooners took on one another and their scout team — almost all former Norman High boys hoops standouts — as coach Sherri Coale wore a microphone and frequently spoke directly to the fans in the midst of the action. And, if she wanted to speak to her players, well, everybody in the arena heard that, too.
Coale, however, may have watched her tongue, because she couldn’t have been too pleased with her basketball team. The Sooners were wildly inconsistent, frequently appeared tired, and though they got the best of their scout team in the final scrimmage period, they did not in previous periods.
“I thought it was really sluggish. I really did,” Coale said. “I don’t think we played with great energy. I don’t know where that came from because we’ve had nine really good practices with over-the-top energy.”
Players were not pleased and didn’t mind talking about their disappointment in themselves.
“I thought we were terrible,” fifth-year senior shooting guard Whitney Hand said.
OU, which finds out today where it’s ranked in the preseason Associated Press Top 25, may have one of the nation’s best scout teams.
Among the players are Colton Coale, Connor Madole, Will Saxon and Grant Ladner, all former Tigers. The group has size, shooters — Saxon was red hot — and moves well without the ball, even without a coach telling it what to do. And Friday night at Lloyd Noble Center, there were stretches the Sooners struggled to keep up.
“It was terrible,” point guard Morgan Hook said. “That’s not how we’ve practiced the last 10 days and there’s nothing we can really say. It was all under our control … It is a big deal. This is the first time our fans got to see us and that’s the first impression. It was just embarrassing.”
Bright spots were junior center Nicole Griffin early, true freshman shooter Nicole Kornet here and there throughout, and sophomore Sharane Campbell late.
Griffin was very good and getting deep position in the lane, accepting passes and knocking down easy buckets. But as the night wore on, she struggled to get that same position and got pushed around on the boards.
Campbell hit a couple big 3-pointers to fuel the Sooners in their last skirmish without their scout team.
Kornet hardly missed an open shot and, more than that, appeared to sense her team needed somebody to fill the energy void.
“I think you can see her confidence and her sense, maybe, of maturity beyond her years, in just recognizing that we need something,” Sherri Coale said.
Kornet played well during OU’s offseason tour of Australia. She wasn’t afraid to take the shot then, either.
“We just kind of needed something to get us going,” she said.
OU’s next chance in front of a crowd is its first exhibition game, at 7 p.m. Thursday, back at Lloyd Noble Center, against Oklahoma Christian.
A dress rehearsal that doesn’t count, after Friday evening, it may count a little more.
“It has to be better than it was tonight,” Hook said.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org