COLUMBUS, Ohio —
The first time around, senior forward Joanna McFarland had yet to become the walking and talking double-double she proved to be yet again against Central Michigan, with 18 points and 17 rebounds two days ago.
Also, since the UCLA game, the Sooners have run a Big 12 gauntlet that includes several physical teams.
“The biggest difference is the identity of our team,” Coale said. “We weren’t hard-fired at that time. We hadn’t been through all that we’ve been through … We’ve had our backs squarely against the wall repeatedly all season and we’ve learned how to fight our way out.”
Extreme physical play is still not the Sooners forte, but they do have an example to follow in McFarland.
“We’re a completely different group led by Jo … She’s the player most suited for a game like this on our roster,” Coale said. “We don’t run around and block people and clip them and jump on their back and crazy stuff. We want to move … Of all our guys, she’s the one most likely to get in the middle of it and mix it up.”
If Coale was referencing UCLA’s physical play with football actions not allowed on the basketball court, Close might beg to differ.
“Being physical to us means initiating contact in a legal way,” she said.
Also, the UCLA coach expects the Sooners to push back.
“They’re going to box us out,” Close said. “I’m telling our team, and then what? Are you tough enough to swim around it, to spin around it? There’s going to be walls put up. Then what?”
Considering UCLA’s previous success over OU and the fact Central Michigan grabbed 23 offensive rebounds against the Sooners on Saturday, do the Bruins have any reason to think OU will stand up to them today?