The Norman Transcript

March 21, 2014

Big game from bigs would be big

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma is the No. 11 seed in the Lincoln Regional and DePaul is the No. 7 seed. 

The Sooners enter with an 18-14 record, a 9-9 Big 12 record and are only 8-9 over their last 17 games. The Blue Demons enter Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. NCAA tournament opener inside Cameron Indoor Stadium 27-6 overall, 15-3 in the Big East and a 16-1 record over their last 17 games.

“They’re a really, really good team,” OU coach Sherri Coale said Thursday, moments before boarding a bus that would take the Sooners to a plane that would eventually have them in Durham, N.C., for Saturday’s tip. “They’re a really good seven seed. They could have been a five seed.”

Not that OU doesn’t have an advantage, one that could make all the difference in the world if it comes through. One that, if it comes through, should be clear as a bell for all to see.

“I think the beginning point for success in this game is post play,” Coale said. “I think it’s post play defensively, not to need any help from any one, and it’s (post play) offensively to put pressure on (DePaul’s) undersized bigs around the basket. If we can throw it in there and have success and if we can defend one on one, then it will go the way we want it to go.”

Those may be big ifs, but the Sooners would seem to be in position to deliver on them.

DePaul counts two players among its first six listed to play forward positions. The Blue Demons claim no center on their roster. 

One of those two forwards, Megan Podkowa, is 6-2, and is listed as a guard/forward. Jasmine Penny’s only listed as a forward and stands 6-1. Both listed at 6-4, Brandi Harvey-Carr and Kelsey Smith are the tallest Blue Demons, but average less than 14 combined minutes per game.

The Sooners’ primary posts are 6-6 Nicole Griffin and 6-3 Kaylon Williams. 

“We were just looking at our size advantage, and our production in the paint between the two of us,” said Griffin, who’s averaging 10.2 points and six rebounds per outing. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, what we think we can do, we’ll be set for the game.”

Griffin has earned four double-doubles this season, one of them not too long ago, a 13-point, 14-rebound performance against Kansas Feb. 22.

Williams hasn’t gone for 10 points in a game since the non-conference, yet began the season averaging 10.9 points and six rebounds as late as the 10-game mark, even as she’d played more than 17 minutes only twice.

“Establishing our position down there in the paint early,” Williams said, “we’ll let them know we’re here.”

If Griffin and Williams can do that, they might combine for 30 points and 16 boards together, or more, which could be huge for their team. Or, if the Blue Demons respond with double teams and the Sooner posts are quick to find open teammates who can sink open jumpers, that could be huge for OU.

“We have to demand the ball first of all,” Griffin said.

Also, if the Sooner posts can use their size to neutralize Penny and Podkowa, it could prove just as big.

Penny leads the Blue Demons at 15.8 points per game. Podkowa’s averaging 9.1.

The Sooners have the size. Saturday, they have to make it an advantage.

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning

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