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March 25, 2013

Coach Coale believes Campbell may be the key

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Perhaps Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale wasn’t quite as right she thought she was. Or, maybe, her insights run deeper than anything statistical data might prove. Or, this time of year, her thinking it may simply make it so.

Asked a question mostly about Sooner center Nicole Griffin, she said a mouthful about guard Sharane Campbell.

“I think Sharane is our X-factor,” Coale said. “I mean, yes, Nic needs to score, needs to have her presence, needs to produce more than she produced yesterday, but I don’t know if we’ve lost a game this year when Sharane Campbell’s been good.”

Entering the second round of the NCAA tournament, where the Sooners meet UCLA at 6:15 p.m. today inside St. John Arena, it’s about as big a statement as you’ll hear a coach make about the difference one player can make.

Is Coale right?

Campbell, who moved into the starting lineup after Whitney Hand was lost for the season, is averaging 9.4 points and 4.3 rebounds.

She has scored 10 or more points in a game 14 times and OU’s 10-4 in those games, for a .714 winning percentage that’s only fractionally better than OU’s .697 overall winning percentage. On the other hand, when Campbell grabs six or more rebounds, the Sooners are 8-1, for a much better .889 winning percentage than their 23-10 record affords.

Is it all about the rebounds? Whatever, there are times this season Campbell’s clearly been an X-factor.

At Texas, on a day Morgan Hook and Aaryn Ellenberg combined for 35 points, the Sooners would not have won 78-70 without Campbell’s game-high 24. Against Oklahoma State, at Lloyd Noble Center, Campbell’s 15 points and 12 rebounds were the difference between a close game and the 80-61 laugher OU claimed. Saturday, without Campbell’s 15 points and seven rebounds, OU probably doesn’t beat Central Michigan.

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