OU Women's basketball team to face challenging game in Waco
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
When the No. 20 OU women’s basketball team rolls into Waco on Saturday afternoon, it will know what it’s up against.
The Sooners, who enter the game with a 5-1 conference record, will be facing off against top-ranked Baylor and senior center Brittney Griner, last season’s Divison I Player of the Year.
“We know it’s Brittney, but we really need to be focusing more on ourselves,” junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg said. “I think if we focus too much on them and who we’re playing, it’s going to mess us up.
“I think that’s what happens to a lot of people when they play them. So I think it’s just more about focusing on ourselves, and we’ll be just fine.”
OU last played Saturday — a game against Texas the Sooners won, 69-56 — and didn’t return to practice until Tuesday.
Coach Sherri Coale said she could see a difference in her players after the two-day break from practice.
“It’s been a really good week,” Coale said. “I see bounce coming back in their step. They’re a lot fresher than they were five or six days ago, and a little bit more relaxed too.
“We got away from that game every two days with the weight of the world on you, and you get to work on yourself, and that’s refreshing in and of itself.”
But the Sooners’ tough task of taking down the Bears will have an added degree of difficulty, considering the game will be played away from Norman.
“Any road game in the Big 12 is tough because every team is good at their home court,” senior forward Joanna McFarland said. “And they want to protect it. That’s not any different that any other team.
“They’re just the No. 1 team at their home court so that’s going to be kind of challenging.”
A major part of Baylor’s recent dominance can be attributed to Griner, who is nearly impossible to contain, Coale said.
“You can’t go guard Brittney Griner straight up, you have to game plan.” she said. “We’ve won a lot of games at Baylor, and we’ve seen Griner many times, which I think helps.
“She’s an incredible talent and the likes of which our game has not seen in many years.”
Despite facing the uphill battle of playing a top-ranked team and its superstar on the road, the Sooners need to relax and stick to the gameplan, Coale said.
“We just have to play our tempo,” she said, “And that puts us in a position to play our best game.”