The Norman Transcript

March 20, 2010

To the point

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

Norman — The story of Oklahoma women’s basketball this season isn’t the story of point guard Danielle Robinson.

It is not that simple. It is, though, close.

The turnaround most point to occurred following the Sooners 18-point homecourt loss to Texas Feb. 3.

It began in the locker room right after the game and grew legs when the Sooners next took the court at Oklahoma State, Feb. 5, when Robinson played the game of her life, scoring 36 points and dishing six assists against one turnover.

Robinson’s personal turnaround, though, began three games earlier with a seven-assist, three-turnover, 14-point outing against Kansas.

It may well be the case that the Sooners’ turnaround, triggered by an embarrassing loss to the Longhorns, was erected upon the foundation Robinson had already started building.

“One thing I can say about Danielle, and it’s so simple she’s going to think I’m crazy,” OU coach Sherri Coale said, “she is just a competitor who hates to lose and she’d just lost enough. She just said, ‘We’ve lost enough and we’re not going to lose any more.’

“It was ever bit as simple as that because she knows, for us to win, she has to be on the floor and she can’t turn the ball over.”

The numbers tell a story.

The first 17 games of the season, which included games against (some) weak competition not found in the Big 12, Robinson averaged 5.4 assists and 4.9 turnovers. Limit the string to games 11 through 17, and the averages were 5.4 assists and 6.1 turnovers.

No matter how many points she was scoring — and Robinson was scoring plenty — she wasn’t making the Sooners better as a group.

Yet over the season’s last 16 games, beginning Jan. 23 against Kansas, the averages are 4.9 assists and 2.9 turnovers. Averaging a half-assist less the second half of the season can be chalked up to playing nothing but conference opponents. The significant reduction in turnovers can be chalked up to Robinson raising her game.

Senior team captain Amanda Thompson tells this story when of early-season moments Robinson would try pushing the ball in transition.

“She would be going a thousand miles per hour to the basket and leaving us behind,” Thompson said.

If Robinson attacks in transition now, typically one of two things will also occur. Either she brings teammates with her and the Sooners convert on the break, or she aborts the effort and sets up the offense. Both ways, no turnover is committed.

“It starts with making a simple pass,” Robinson said, “or, trying not to force something that I saw one second ago, that’s not there any more, or shooting instead of passing.”

Robinson may not have thought about it, but she described three ways not to turn the ball over. And the kind of care she described has led to a significant reduction in turnovers team wide.

The season’s first 17 games, OU committed 19 or more turnovers 12 times and 13 or fewer turnovers once. Over the last 16 games, OU has committed 19 or more turnovers five times and 13 or fewer turnovers seven times.

“She knows how to be a true point guard and how to lead our team to victory,” Thompson said.

Clay Horning 366-3526 cfhorning@normantranscript.com