CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The Oklahoma women believe they’re ready. They’ve been trying to come together all season long, and they think they’re doing it. They feel it.
“It has been an up and down season, but this is the most focused we’ve been all season,” point guard Danielle Robinson said.
Maybe it will be enough, because on the eve of the game, James Madison was saying all the right things, too. Right down to the arena — John Paul Jones Arena, or “the JPG,” as JMU coach Kenny Brooks and his players like to call it — where they turned their season around with an 82-80 victory at Virginia way back on Dec. 20.
“If there was one place we could play, it would be here,” JMU point guard Dawn Evans, who scored a school record 42 points her last time on the Virginia campus, said. “For JPJ to be 45 minutes away from JMU means a lot to us. We’re going to treat it like a home-court game.”
The Dukes (26-7) were 5-5 heading into Charlottesville in January. Since, they have won 21 of 23.
The Colonial Athletic Association is hardly the Big 12, but JMU is rolling into the tournament. Meanwhile the Sooners (21-11) have lost four of their last six games. And the Dukes, from nearby Harrisonburg, should have the fans on their side, too.
That’s part of the back story to today’s 1:30 p.m. NCAA tournament Dayton regional first-round contest between OU and JMU. The day’s second game, either the Sooners or Dukes will meet the winner of today’s opener, between Miami and Gardner-Webb, Tuesday.
Of course, there’s more.
OU coach Sherri Coale said before leaving Norman her team would have to make shots to be successful at the NCAA tournament. Saturday, she explained how a team goes about that.