, Muskogee, OK

November 10, 2013

Sooner ladies set for Wichita State

By Clay Horning

— NORMAN — Confronted with the idea that only three of her players enjoyed fine games in the Oklahoma women’s season-opening victory over Stetson, Sooner women’s coach Sherri Coale sought to correct the record slightly and generally reassure.

It wasn’t just senior point guard Morgan Hook (11 assists, eight points), senior shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg (24 points) and sophomore post Kaylon Williams (17 points, eight rebounds), but also Sharane Campbell, who made just 3 of 10 shots, grabbed six rebounds, blocked two shots and kept a few momentum-making plays alive with her hustle.

Also, Coale said, don’t expect center Nicole Griffin (four points, six rebounds, 1 of 5 shooting) to struggle so much going forward and, said Coale, the remaining starter, Nicole Kornet, had a very difficult shooting night, but otherwise didn’t play a bad game.

Still, if any of that’s not clear, there was something everybody could agree on following the Sooners’ 78-60 victory over the Hatters: 17 offensive rebounds is way too many from any Sooner opponent.

Sometimes statistics fall short of the truth and Friday night at Lloyd Noble Center was a good example. OU out rebounded Stetson 55 to 43 and even grabbed four more offensive rebounds than the Hatters.

Still, 17 is too many and it’s a number that can’t repeat itself throughout the season beginning with today’s 2 p.m. Preseason WNIT quarterfinal contest against Wichita State.

Not just because it’s a good time to develop good habits, but because the Shockers can play a little bit, too.

A year ago, Wichita State went 24-10 and tied Creighton for the top spot in the Missouri Valley with a 15-3 league record. The Shockers then claimed the conference tournament crown, earning a trip to the NCAA tournament.

This preseason, Wichita State was chosen second behind Indiana State in the MVC preseason poll and guard Alex Harden was named MVC preseason player of the year.

Is keeping an opponent off the offensive glass so hard?

“It’s not something we can’t do. It’s something we’re not doing,” Coale said. “And that’s where we individually have to all check and see what we’re focusing on.”

Williams led the Sooners with eight rebounds against Stetson, yet only three were on the defensive glass. Kornet grabbed seven boards, but just four were on the defensive glass. And while Campbell and Griffin also had four defensive boards, nobody had more than four.

Another stat OU can’t like? The Hatters attempted one more field goal than the Sooners. That’s not supposed to happen.

“Right now we still have a little bit of, ‘Was I in the right place defensively? Where should I be next?’ and then, all of a sudden, a shot comes up and it’s going off the rim and they’ve forgotten to block out because their brains are behind,” Coale said.

Of course, that’s not all Coale hopes is improved from one game to the next.

She zeroed in on defensive communication, too.

“There were many trips in defensive transitions where we weren’t matched up and a really volatile offensive team will make you pay for that,” she said. “It’s just as simple as communicating … I was shocked that we weren’t.

“I guess that’s maybe first game, real-life jitters. I don’t know what it was. That has not been a problem for us but that has to improve.”

The Sooners will try again today.