Norman — Oklahoma will be a big favorite when it takes on South Dakota State in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament at Lloyd Noble Center tonight.
On the other hand, it’s not like the Jackrabbits are simply happy to be here. Nor is it like they’re being here is anything odd. Plain and simple, they’ve come to expect it.
The Jackrabbits have a long and successful NCAA basketball history, only most of it has been comprised at the Division II level.
The Jacks won the 2002-03 Division II national championship and two seasons later moved up to Division I, though they could not become eligible for NCAA Tournament play until last season.
As it turned out, things worked out just right. SDSU went to the WNIT in back-to-back seasons prior to last season, going 25-6 and 23-7 those campaigns. Last season, the Jacks’ first year of NCAA tourney eligibility, they earned a spot, spanked TCU 90-55 in the first round and finished a bucket short of Baylor, 60-58, to just miss reaching the Sweet 16.
Given the Jacks’ history, they have every reason not to feel intimidated.
“This is my third year in the program and I have never stepped on the floor and felt like we didn’t have the ability to beat the other team,” SDSU junior guard Kristen Rotert said. “I think that is something our coaching staff gives us. They give us confidence. We may be the underdog … but we really believe we’re good enough to compete with any team out there.”
Oklahoma was asked who SDSU reminds it of. There was no hesitation. The Jacks remind the Sooners of Iowa State. Amanda Thompson and Danielle Robinson, who met the media along with coach Sherri Coale, both intimated it was an advantage to have played a similar team.