The Norman Transcript

December 18, 2013

Coale’s Sooners could be in for a trap or a cake walk

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — On the one hand, Oklahoma should really crush Fairfield tonight, even inside Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., where, apparently, the Stags play host to only their marquee opponents, most of their home games taking place at Alumni Hall in Fairfield, Conn.

On the other hand, the Stags are 5-3 this season, start three seniors and are not horribly outsized the way many smaller Division I mid-major women’s programs tend to be when they step up in class. After point guard Felicia De La Cruz, who measures 5-5, the rest of the Stag starters are 5-10, 6-0, 6-2 and 6-1.

On yet another hand, the 20th-ranked Sooners really should crush the Stags. The two teams have a common opponent in 25th-ranked Gonzaga. OU beat Gonzaga 82-78. Farfield fell to Gonzaga 82-42.

On still another hand, it’s the same old story for the Sooners, who continue to believe they can be one of the best teams in the nation and can take another step in becoming such a team by handling the Stags in a fashion not entirely unfamiliar to how they handled Maryland-Eastern Shore three days ago at Lloyd Noble Center, routing the Monarchs 105-46.

Of all those hands, it’s the last one on which OU wants to concentrate.

“We were aggressive and yet weren’t out of control,” OU coach Sherri Coale said of her squad’s Sunday victory.

That led to 50 percent shooting, 103 points not scored by leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg, who left 4 minutes into the game after straining her knee, a reasonable 15 turnovers despite the Sooner bench logging more minutes than the starters, and some contributions from sources whose productivity had been inconsistent at best heading into the game. Of those, Nicole Kornet was the most notable, finishing with 26 points, seven rebounds and six steals.

Still, it was more than that for Coale.

“There were fewer errors (Sunday), regardless of the competition, the score or what was going on,” she said. “There were fewer errors in terms of the process, whether it was the defensive process or the rebounding process or the transition process … For example, more guys ran (the floor) with consistency … More guys bumped their guy before going for a rebound.”

Those are some of the indicators Coale said she hoped to and did see Sunday, the kinds of things that let her know the progress she thought her team had made during a week of practice had in fact been made.

The thing about tonight?

OU’s in the same boat.

“I thought it was a big positive step, but again,” Coale said, “you’ve got to keep doing those things over and over and over, and that’s how you know who you are.”

Also, offered Kornet, “on the road is always harder.”

Fairfield should offer all the resistance it can muster. Whatever that is or isn’t, the Sooners now have a clear idea what they want to accomplish.

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning

cfhorning@normantranscript.com

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