By CLAY HORNING
The good thing may be that it’s Kansas State coming into Lloyd Noble Center to take on the Oklahoma women at 7 tonight.
The Wildcats (6-8, 0-3 Big 12) have lost more than they’ve won this season, an odd development given coach Deb Patterson’s ongoing and, for the most part, quite successful 18-year run in Manhattan.
Given that coach Sherri Coale’s Sooners need a win in the worst way, Kansas State may be the perfect opponent.
Still, OU (10-6, 1-2), on a two-game losing streak, would certainly prefer to net a victory in the best way, and that’s what the Sooners were talking about after practice Friday morning.
They’ve lost at least three more games than they ever figured they would lose at this point in the season. They’ve also lost three games in overtime, including their last two, at home against Iowa State last Sunday and Wednesday at Texas.
The first overtime loss was also at home, against No. 5 Louisville. In each of those three games, OU gave up narrow leads in the final minute of regulation.
“We know what we need to do and everybody’s trying to hard to do it,” senior center Nicole Griffin said. “It’s like everybody’s saying, ‘I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to to this.’ In order for us to be successful, we can’t think that way.”
According to Griffin, as well as senior point guard Morgan Hook, when things have gone wrong, players have retreated into themselves for solutions, rather than attacking the game collectively.
You can almost see it statistically.
Against Texas, Coale said things began to go wrong in the second half and bad things snowballed as OU gave away a 12-point first-half lead.
Sharane Campbell, who had 12 points and eight rebounds in the game, also committed eight turnovers, emblematic of a player trying to do too much. Griffin fouled out in just 20 minutes, another indication, perhaps, of trying to do too much.
“It’s hard to understand because we enjoy each other’s company so much off the court, but when we go out there, we’re all fighting individually on our own islands,” Hook said. “We care so much, we’re all trying to do it ourselves and we haven’t figured out how to do it together.”
Even if everything falls into place well enough against the Wildcats today, the Sooners may not have proven anything. That may take putting wins together against good teams or taking down one of the squads OU’s looking up at in the conference race, even away from home.
Momentrily, at least, the list is a long one: Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, TCU and Texas.
It must start somewhere.
“It’s a decision that we have to make and when we make that decision, it’s night and day and we’ll be able to turn the seasson around,” Hook said.
Hook also added this nugget.
“We were picked to be No. 1 in the conference and we need to play like we’re No. 1 in he conference,” she said, “whether we’re 1-2 or 3-0.”
Griffin feels once the Sooners find what they’re looking for, it will be a whole new ballgame.
“Once you figure out (how to play together) you’re set for the rest of the way,” she said. “We just have to have that sort of ‘Aha’ moment, where we just click and then we’re good.”
It’s a lot to look forward to. Getting there should be its own reward. But it requires getting there.