NORMAN — About 10 days ago, Oklahoma women’s coach Sherri Coale was preparing her team for the Big 12 tournament, a tournament launching several days earlier than it ever had before.
She knew then that even if she reached the final of the conference tourney, her team would return to Norman a week before selection Monday and almost two weeks before her team would travel to its first-round NCAA tournament destination.
Coale wasn’t sure how she’d like so much time between her last conference tourney game and her first NCAA tournament game.
“Now,” she said, “I like it.”
This past week, the Sooners worked on themselves rather than any particular opponent. And, while focus was emphasized — point guard Morgan Hook said Coale would compare each drill to a period of the game, wanting the Sooners to exit each drill “ahead” — the practices weren’t designed to take a physical toll on the players.
“This week’s been great,” Coale said. “We’ve done a lot of non-contact stuff to let our bodies recover from the beating of the Big 12 Conference. We’ve shot the ball a lot.”
Within that thought of Coale’s is an explanation and a strategy.
Because it’s very clear to anybody who has followed the team closely that OU has been having a hard time in first halves.
Against TCU Jan. 30, the Horned Frogs scored the game’s first 11 points. At Kansas, Feb. 17, OU trailed by 12 points before the game was 13 minutes old. At Oklahoma State Feb. 23, OU trailed by 19 points 8 minutes into the game. Against West Virginia, in the first round of the conference tournament, OU trailed by 19 points at the half and, after winning that one with a comeback for the ages, the Sooners trailed Iowa State by 19 at the half the very next day.