About that, OU begins the season ranked No. 12 and tied for second with West Virginia in the coaches preseason conference poll.
Hand is the clear leader.
She averaged 13.3 points and 7.1 rebounds last season, but her contributions go well beyond numbers.
“She’s so consistent,” Coale said. “You know what you’re getting every single day … She is going to will her way through whatever presents itself, whether it’s an injury or a deficit or whatever the case may be, she’s going to fight all the way through that.”
Aaryn Ellenberg, OU’s leading returning scorer, at 15.5 points per game, is a member of the conference’s five-player preseason All-Big 12 team. A wildly talented scorer, the knock on Ellenberg has been her occasional intensity lapses. There are moments when she is there, but seems not to be. She says she’s over it.
“It comes with getting older,” the junior guard said. “You have to be a little more mature about things. I think I’m really locked in. I think I’ve found a place that works for me.”
After that, there’s returning junior point guard Morgan Hook (10.9 ppg, 3.6 apg last season), who compiled 15 assists against three turnovers in two exhibition victories; Sharane Campbell (9.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg), the reigning conference sixth man of the year, coming off a stellar freshman season; and posts Nicole Griffin (5.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg), a junior, and Joanna McFarland (5.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg), a senior.
Senior guard and defensive specialist Jasmine Hartman is back from ACL surgery after missing all of last season. And there are the newcomers: freshmen Nicole Kornet and Maddie Manning and junior Portia Durrett.
Durrett led the Sooners with 26 points in their last exhibition game. Manning, leading the break, and pushing the action, was responsible for many of Durrett’s baskets. Kornet is a 3-point sharpshooter utterly unafraid to let the ball fly.