SAN ANTONIO — It is the undercard, Oklahoma and Stanford. It is the game before the game the nation may really want to see.
Between Connecticut’s 76-game winning streak and the curiosity that follows Baylor freshman center Brittney Griner around, one term used to describe today’s 6 p.m. matchup between the Sooners and Cardinal has been “junior varsity.”
“If we’re the JV game, so be it,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “We’re going to come out and play the best JV game possible.”
Of course, these things happen.
Everybody wants an angle with legs and it’s hard to get past UConn and Griner. But there’s a story behind OU and Stanford, too.
The clash of styles, Stanford’s size against OU’s athleticism, is a part of it, but only a small part of it.
“That’s a simple way to look at it,” Sooner coach Sherri Coale said.
Look at the game deeply, beginning with what came before, and there are more forces at work.
The last meeting between Stanford and Oklahoma, four seasons ago, the roles were very nearly reversed. OU was the favorite, a No. 2 seed. Stanford was the upstart, a No. 4 seed.
Also, it was played in San Antonio, at the AT&T Center, home of the NBA Spurs. Also, for the third straight meeting between the programs, the Sooners lost.
One of the most painful exits since Coale began bringing the Sooners to the Big Dance in 2000, OU had just run the Big 12 table, going 16-0 in the conference before backing it up by winning the Big 12 tournament (a feat that remains uneaquled by any Big 12 men’s or women’s team).
But Stanford got off to a fast start and Brooke Smith schooled a freshman Courtney Paris, making 14 of 16 shots and scoring 35 points.