MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 22, 2014

Consistency will be key factor for OU vs. DePaul

By Clay Horning
CNHI News Service

— NORMAN — It’s a great thought.

Indeed, if the Oklahoma women can fulfill it, they might not simply top DePaul today at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but might even stun homestanding and injury-riddled Duke two days later and return to the Sweet 16.

Of course, if they pull it off, it will be the first time all season.

The thought, or word, of the day for Sooner coach Sherri Coale on Friday was “consistency.”

The Sooners meet the Blue Demons at 12:30 p.m. today in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and all they’re looking for is 40 strong minutes.

“We’ve had games this season where we’ve played extremely well. We’ve had halves where we play extremely well,” Coale said. “Consistency has been an issue for us. We all felt that as the season’s gone along that if we can just string together … sometimes it’s minutes, sometimes it’s halves, sometimes it’s games, but if we can just string some good stuff together, then there’s no telling what could happen.”

That’s the dream.

It came together last season when OU upset UCLA in Columbus, Ohio, to return to the Sweet 16.

Still, that team may have been defined by overachievement in the face of so many injuries. This one has been defined by underachievement.

The Sooners have lost tight games and games decided in overtime. They have also lost games they never should have lost, on the road at Kansas State or TCU.

Also, OU hasn’t played since March 8. The Sooners are embracing that, too.

“I think this break has been really good and that we could shake off some of those shackles and get back to those things we know we can do, those things we know we’re good at,” Coale said.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno, whose teams is flying into the tournament, the winner of 16 of 17 games and the Big East postseason tournament, knows his team and OU can put on a good show.

“We look at Oklahoma as a 10th-ranked team in the country, as they were earlier in the year, and not as a 10-seed,” he said. “They’re a very good basketball team.”