The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 1, 2010

New ground for OU women

NORMAN — Pretend Stanford hadn’t lost but the single game it lost to Connecticut. And pretend Stanford didn’t have a history of ending Oklahoma’s season. Because if that were the case … it would make almost no difference whatsoever.

Stanford would still be Stanford.

The Cardinal would still be headed to its third straight Final Four. Tara VanDerveer would still be the most successful contemporary women’s basketball coach in the nation not named Pat or Geno.

Had it lost three games, five games or seven games, Stanford would still be Stanford. No matter how well the Sooner women appeared to be playing coming into Sunday. Even if it was OU with the single loss, nobody with a clue would be thinking the Cardinal’s going down easy.

Stanford would still be Stanford.

That’s what OU’s victory over Kentucky meant to Sherri Coale’s program beyond the 2010 Final Four.

Now, OU will always be OU.

Coale was onto it just as soon as she finished cutting down the net at Sprint Center Tuesday, where the Sooners’ 88-68 victory sent them to their second straight Final Four.

“It’s not over yet, but for these three seniors to guide their teams to back-to-back Final Fours, that puts us in a different league,” she said. “That’s a different deal. Those three kids will forever be known as the first to do that, and I love that for them because they’re that special.”

Don’t miss the nuance of Coale’s assertion. Amanda Thompson, Nyeshia Stevenson and Abi Olajuwon will go down as the first senior class to take the Sooners to back-to-back Final Fours, yes.

But the greatest consequence of their accomplishment has less to do with how they’ll be remembered for past achievement and more to do with the perception of the Sooner program going forward.

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