NORMAN — In the Oklahoma women’s first exhibition game, a 118-53 victory over Oklahoma Christian, Sooner post Nicole Griffin turned just 24 minutes of court time and nine field goal attempts into a game-high 23 points.
Making seven free throws helped her get there, but, more than anything, it was her willingness to get her 6-6 body down the court that made the difference.
“We’re trying to push the ball early in transition,” Griffin said. “So I’m trying to get my position early, because we’re trying to score quick.”
It is not just an insight into how the 12th-ranked Sooners plan to play this season, but it may be the insight.
OU believes it can go back to the Final Four, even challenge Brittney Griner and Baylor for a Big 12 title, and this is how it plans to do it.
“That’s something we learned in Australia,” OU coach Sherri Coale said, referencing the four-game and 10-day trip Down Under the Sooners enjoyed in August. “We were very effective in transition.”
At 7 tonight at Lloyd Noble center, in their last exhibition game against Henderson (Ark.) State, OU wants to run a whole lot more because it’s a plan that has surpassed good-idea status into something more along the lines of the Sooners’ identity.
“For us, offensively, we want to score in the first 6 seconds of the shot clock,” Coale said. “If we can’t, we want to out-execute people.”
Pretty much every season, Coale has talked about the importance of getting easy transition baskets.
Just not like this.
It all begins with Griffin.
“Nicole getting down to the block is just a fundamental principal that we have worked on. She has 4 seconds from the time the shot clock begins to get to the front of the rim,” Coale said. “And if she’s too tired to get there in 4 seconds, then somebody else will go in and get there in 4 seconds.”
It won’t be Kaylon Williams, who will miss the season after tearing her Achilles tendon. But it might be Joanna McFarland or newcomer Portia Durrett.
“We want to stretch defenses,” Coale said. “We want them to play 94 feet on the floor.”
Though OU has wanted to run every season, the last season the Sooners ran like they’re talking about now was 2003-04, the season OU ran the conference right off the postseason court, becoming the first and only team Big 12 program to win four straight games at the at the conference tournament. Fans may recall that team as the Dionnah Jackson-Maria Villarroel Sooners.
Of course, it was running the court that carried the 2001-02 Sooners, behind point guard Stacey Dales, to the national championship game.
If there’s a difference in the way OU plans to do it this season, it’s in the reliance of the post to set the pace.
“Everybody can shoot it. Morgan (Hook) has great vision, as does Maddie (Manning), as does Jas(mine Harper),” Coale said, ticking through her point guards. “And we have bigs who are willing to work hard enough to run, and that’s really the deal.
“It’s not about do you have a big that’s really mobile. It’s really about do you have a big who’s willing to work hard enough to get there in 4 seconds.”
The Sooners believe they do.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org