Many people, some at least, when things are going very well, begin to look for when, where and how everything might fall apart. And things are going very well for coach Sherri Coale’s Oklahoma women’s basketball team.
Yet, even with today’s 3:30 p.m. tip coming up against Bedlam rival Oklahoma State, the Sooners appear not at all wrapped up in what might go wrong, nor how they might be affected if something were to go wrong.
“I don’t think athletes are afforded the luxury of such pessimism,” Coale said, her tongue in her cheek, sort of.
Perhaps not, but athletes and ball teams have certainly proven themselves fragile when misfortune strikes. Coale’s Sooners, however, do not believe it can or will happen to them.
“We have games to win. We’re just going to focus on those. We’re going to focus on the scouting report,” said sophomore guard Gioya Carter, who’s averaging 17.2 points per outing since league play began. “We’re not worried about losing a game. We’re just going to go out there and give it our best, regardless of the result.”
Of course, when that happens, the results are often good.
It’s been that way for the Sooners recently. After going 6-5 in the pre-conference phase of their schedule, OU is now 11-5 and 5-0 since Big 12 Conference play began.
If the Sooners can top the 21st-ranked Cowgirls (12-4, 2-3), it will be their second straight victory over a ranked opponent, the first a 70-59 decision over then-No. 4 Texas 70-59.
Victory would also give OU the top spot in the conference race by a half-game over Baylor, at least for a couple of hours. The Bears, the league’s only other unbeaten team, meet Texas at 5:30 p.m. today.
“We’re just really focused as a group and we’re not letting anybody in our bubble and we're making sure we’re all connected and that we’re all good,” sophomore transfer guard Peyton Little said. “I don’t think there’s any pressure because we know we can be that.”
The Sooners haven’t simply been winning, but dominating. In their last six games, they’ve outscored their opponent in 11 of 12 halves, the lone outlier being the second half at Texas Tech, where the Red Raiders outscored OU 33-30 in a game the Sooners prevailed 75-58.
In five conference victories, OU’s average margin of victory has been 13.4 points.
“You have to figure out how to do the hard work internally to put yourself into a position to see what simply needs to be done,” Coale said, the implication being that her team has done exactly that.
As for OSU, the Cowgirls are at a low point. After losing only once — at No. 12 North Carolina 79-77 — in the non-conference portion of their schedule, they fell by 16 points at Baylor and four at TCU.
That might have been reasonable until Saturday, when West Virginia popped them 61-49 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. So, it could be a desperate team that walks into Lloyd Noble Center this afternoon.
“Oklahoma State has really good pieces and (coach) Jim (Littell) uses them really well,” Coale said. “We really have to know who we’re guarding and understand their strengths and continue to play with the same collective commitment to the strategy and that’s really the simple reason to our success.”
The Sooners simply want to do what they’ve been doing.
“We’re kind of on this wave,” Little said, “And we’re riding it.”