Tahlequah Daily Press

March 8, 2014

Ellenberg, Sooners to take on Longhorns at Big 12 tournament

By CLAY HORNING
CNHI

— Yet again, senior shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg was named to the Al-Big 12 First Team earlier this week.

Voters appeared to have little choice.

They had already made her a first-team selection in the preseason, and she’s about to enter the Big 12 tournament at 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Cox Convention Center, where the Oklahoma women begin tourney play against Texas, with an 18.7 point average.

But they did have a choice. The season has not been all it was cracked up to be for Ellenberg.

The maker of 179 of 437 shots, her 40.1 percent shooting percentage is down from last season’s 42.4 percent mark, and her 35.4 percent (81 of 229) accuracy from 3-point land is well off last season’s clip of 41.4 percent.

Also, Ellenberg has struggled to show up in several games her team badly needed her. She scored a career-high 37 in an overtime loss at Texas Jan. 8, but just 10 and 12 in the Sooners’ previous two losses, at Iowa State and Marist.

Perhaps OU’s worst loss of the season, at UCLA, a team whose season ended Thursday at the Pac-12 tournament with a 13-18 record, Ellenberg played every minute, made 2 of 13 shots and scored 11 points.

Still, in her final hour as a collegiate athlete, Ellenberg appears to be coming on one more time.

“Most seniors feel a sense of urgency that’s unique to anything they have ever felt,” Sherri Coale said. “I don’t think they can predict it or describe it aptly, nor (can) you call it up until you become a senior.”

Could it be that simple?

After missing two games to a concussion suffered at Oklahoma State, Ellenberg returned to the floor three games ago at Baylor, where she hit just 3 of 13 shots from beyond the 3-point arc, yet finished with 29 points by hitting 6 of 11 from within the arc and 8 of 9 free throws.

Next, at TCU, a Sooner loss, Ellenberg was nonetheless very good, finishing 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting. She followed that with 18 points in 28 minutes on 7-of -17 shooting that included four 3-pointers and 18 points.

Also, more shots are going up earlier in games.

Ellenberg doesn’t see herself doing anything differently.

“I’m just playing basketball,” she said. “If it happens early, if it happens late, it really doesn’t matter.”

Her senior point guard doesn’t believe she’s doing anything differently either, though she knows this is an important time of the year for Ellenberg.

“I don’t think she’s ever not aggressive, and I think this time of year, Aaryn loves the bright lights and loves the big-time games,” Morgan Hook said. “She’ll come out and fire two or three from behind the 3-point line, and we look to her to shoot those shots and give us momentum we need.”

Whatever the reason, the Sooners will take more results like that from the program’s second all-time scoring leader.

“Just make baskets when I’m open,” is how Ellenberg described her offensive strategy.