NORMAN — Favorite Sooner of all time? Well, from my youth there’s Elvis Peacock, John McCullough, Kelly Snider and, just to make everybody from a different sport, let’s say Jim Begwin.
Only that’s not the way I think about it any more. I grew up on those names, but am now more discerning, with an eye for virtue I may not have exercised before my 15th birthday.
Anyway, I’m not a fan of athletes any more. I’m a fan of people and sports happens to be my beat, and for about 36 hours I’ve wondered if there’s anybody I’ve enjoyed covering more than Whitney Hand.
Can’t think of any.
Can’t think of any who received a rawer deal than her either.
Jason White tore the ACL in both his knees, but had the eligibility remaining to come back, win a Heisman Trophy and deliver the Sooners to the national championship game.
But this was Hand’s last season in crimson and cream, on a team she really liked, surrounded by experience and youth that really believed it was headed back to the Final Four.
Instead, the cards of fate are dealt randomly, leaving some a free ride and others too much pain, too many surgeries and too many rehabs.
Hand tore the ACL in her left knee Thursday night at Lloyd Noble Center. She planted, the knee gave way, what was to be a strong leap toward the rim instead become a fumbling flailing shot that had Hand reaching for her knee before the ball left her hand, screaming in pain before she hit the ground.
It’s not right.
It’s not fair.
It’s just the way it goes.
Has anybody played harder than Hand?
Well, Marc Clayton played really, really hard. I loved watching him run after the catch because he always seemed to have a plan or make one up in time to try something. He never caught the ball and kept running until he was tackled. Instead, he’d catch it, accelerate, make people miss and get as far as he could. It was like two different plays for Clayton, before the catch and afterward. Still, I don’t think he played harder than Hand.