The Norman Transcript

Sports

March 31, 2013

Injuries only strengthened Sooner's resolve

Oklahoma takes on Tennessee in Sweet 16 in OKC

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Hand’s injury seemed like the last straw.

“We were all shocked about that,” senior guard Jasmine Hartman said. “But the thing is, we all had to fight together. We have to fight for her. It’s just not about us individually. It’s about the team together.”

Tennessee has dealt with injury, too. Sophomore center Isabelle Harrison was out for 10 games. Sophomore forward Cierra Burdick missed a month. Point guard Andraya Carter dislocated her shoulder seven games into the season, requiring season-ending surgery.

“You have to have 15 people on scholarship … I’ve got to where we didn’t go against each other a lot,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlock said. “Any kid that ... fell down, you get nervous. It’s just part of our game.”

Playing against the Lady Vols in Oklahoma City should bring back fond memories for OU’s two fifth-year seniors, Hand and Hartman. As freshmen, they met Tennessee at the then-named Ford Center, winning 80-70 on Feb. 2, 2009, momentarily making Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt wait on her 1,000th victory. Two months later, they were in the Final Four.

Hand plays a different role now.

Instead of being a freshman excited by the prospects of bright future, she’s the elder-statesman looking back on an injury-filled, but still terrific, career with great pride in what she and her teammates have accomplished without her on the court.

“It’s definitely been a roller coaster for me as a person and, I think, for our team,” an emotional Hand said. “As many of our seasons have been, it’s something about this program I will always be proud of: When our backs are against the wall, there is always fight. There is never quit.

“I would say that marks our team. That just goes to show these girls have character, heart and are very tough as individuals.”

Michael Kinney

Follow me @eyeamtruth

mkinney@normantranscript.com

 

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