Has anybody overcome as much as Hand?
Well, Clayton’s quarterback, White, is way up there, but even he never missed 401 days as Hand did after tearing the ACL in her right knee, before needing additional surgery requiring more months of rehab, before she returned, at last, Jan. 2, 2011, at TCU, where all she did after all that time off was go for 24 points and 11 rebounds, both team highs.
Has anybody ever endeared themselves quite so much to the Sooner Nation?
It’s hard not to go with Sam Bradford on that one, because football is football. Then again, if you adjust for scale, the answer is probably not.
They loved Eduardo Najera and loved Hollis Price. They loved Bradford and Gerald McCoy. They loved Stacey Dales and Courtney Paris. They loved Geoff Geary and Casey Bookout. Yet, pound for pound, I don’t think any Sooner athlete since I started taking notebooks to games has been more adored than Hand.
Why is two-fold.
One, she’s terrific. Terrific to deal with, terrifically thoughtful when answering questions, terrifically motivated and down with the process of being an athlete, teammate and student of the game.
Two, she has delivered in a way no other Sooner has delivered, probably in any sport, since the millennium turned over. Because she simply did everything.
In the last game of last season, OU’s 74-70 elimination loss to St. John’s, Hand finished with a team-high 17 points (on only four made field goals), a team-high seven rebounds and a team-high seven assists. All of that despite the fact she’s closer to 5’11” than the 6’1” she’s always been listed at, and plays guard, but not point guard.
As a freshman, she appeared poised to become a bomber, a 3-point specialist in the mold of Erin Higgins, but with greater gifts than Higgins. Like Brent Price was for Billy Tubbs, I thought Hand could be for Coale.