Tahlequah Daily Press

College Sports

February 22, 2014

Things are different for OU women as they host Kansas

After practice Friday, Oklahoma women’s point guard Morgan Hook spoke, only to quickly catch herself.

“It’s different,” she said. And then, “I know we’ve said that before.”

But maybe the Sooners, who play Kansas at 7 tonight at Lloyd Noble center, are finally right.

Anyway, everything seems possible again after beating Texas 64-63 on Wednesday, even without leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg, who continues to recover from a concussion suffered at Oklahoma State.

There may be evidence things are different.

Coale closed with a  shooting drill that included five spots from which the players could not move on to the next spot until they had canned five straight shots. Posts did not shoot and Gioya Carter and Sharane Campbell shot from a couple steps inside the 3-point arc, while everybody else was beyond the arc.

The drill was completed in 4:30, faster than it had been completed all season long.

Also, Hook shared some of the aftermath of the Oklahoma State loss, which might have played a role in the Texas victory and, OU hopes, a big win over the Jayhawks tonight.

“We’ve kind of changed as a team,” Hook said.

After losing in Stillwater, Hook explained, that the players went “our separate ways.” Then, the next day, after watching themselves lose the Bedlam game and hearing from the coaches about everything that went awry, a players only meeting commenced, led by Hook and reserve forward Portia Durrett, who is also a senior co-captain.

It was decided that the players shouldn’t need the coaches to get them back on the same page, tell them what they did wrong, etc., but that they should be figuring out things for themselves.

“We’ve kind of taken it over and realized this is our team … We’re the ones that played bad, it’s not the coaches, and I think that’s what we realized, it’s all on us,” Hook said.

That attitude was reflected against the Longhorns, in practice since and, perhaps, in the confidence of their coach.

“I’m beyond hopeful. I’m a believer,” Coale said. “It wasn’t if, it was when, and we’re in a great situation.”

Most believe OU (16-11, 7-7 Big 12) will reach a 15th straight NCAA tournament, regardless of what might happen at the Big 12 tournament, with three more regular season wins. After tonight, the Sooners will have Baylor in Waco, TCU in Fort Worth and Texas Tech in Norman.

“We’re in the final stretch and this is the time to be playing your best,” Coale said. “We have to prove it every time out, but everything about (beating Texas) was everything about what it takes to finish out and do what we want to do … Sometimes it’s this cellophane wall and once you break through it, all kinds of craziness can happen, but you have to do it one time and we finally did it.”

At least it feels different.

“I feel like we’re really linking arms and trusting each other,” said shooting guard Nicole Kornet, who started against Texas and will again if Ellenberg can’t play. “We’re playing for one another and not for ourselves.”

Kansas (12-14, 5-9) has been reduced to a spoiler’s role. It owns the best in-conference victory this season, a 76-60 takedown of Baylor Jan. 19, that remains the Lady Bears’ only conference loss. Since, though, the Jayhawks have gone 3-5, one of the losses an 81-71 setback against the Sooners at Allen Fieldhouse.

OU may be in a better place now.

“We’ve all, this whole week, just been meeting up on our own time and talking about our vision of what we see in the future, the rest of conference play and tournament play,” Hook said, “and everybody just sees this game as another chance to make a statement.”

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