The Sooners (7-4) will take on No. 2 UConn (9-0) in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Sunday afternoon in what will undoubtedly be Oklahoma's toughest test this season. The undefeated Huskies look poised to take home their sixth title of the decade, having won all of their games by at least 10 points this year.
UConn defeated OU, 72-63, in Norman on Dec. 19 last year. This time around, the Sooners will be looking to earn their first win against the Huskies in program history while building on their current three-game win streak.
No Geno Auriemma for the Huskies
After undergoing surgery on Thursday, the Huskies' Hall of Fame head coach Geno Auriemma will not be present for Sunday's contest. His assistant, Chris Dailey, another women's basketball Hall of Famer, will take the reins in his stead.
Despite the fact that someone else will call the shots for UConn, OU head coach Sherri Coale said Auriemma's absence won't change her planning.
"Coaches don’t get to play," Coale said. "If (Huskies junior forward) Megan Walker was out, that might change how we prepare. If (Huskies sophomore forward) Olivia (Nelson-Ododa) is out, that might change how we prepare. Geno, he doesn’t get to shoot, rebound, defend, none of that — so no, our prep will stay the same."
Sooner sophomore guard Taylor Robertson leads the NCAA with 56 made 3-pointers coming into the matchup with UConn, a squad that ranks 114th in the nation in 3-point percentage defense.
Most would assume that such a defense will struggle with the sharpshooting Robertson, yet Coale seemed bearish on the thought of her star guard having a ton of good looks from beyond the arc.
"I’ll be surprised if she has a lot of good opportunities," Coale said. "(The Huskies) are so well coached. They’re gonna know where she is, and they’re gonna follow her around."
For Robertson, Sunday's game plan will revolve around taking what the defense will concede.
"We’ll just take whatever they give us because they can’t completely take out one thing of the game without leaving something else wide open," Robertson said. "If this game, they guard the 3 really well, then we should be able to get a bunch of open layups, and then if they don’t guard the 3 really well, then we’ll just take what we get.”
Limiting Megan Walker
Huskies junior forward Megan Walker is averaging 22.1 points per game this season, good for seventh in the NCAA. Limiting Walker's contribution on Sunday could be the key to victory for the Sooners.
"You want to try to make great players like Megan Walker, who are triple-threat kind of offensive players, play to their ‘C' option," Coale said. "Take away ‘A,’ take away ‘B,’ limit ‘B’ if you can, and make them go to ‘C,’ and if they score on that then they just do, and good players will do that."
For Coale, the response of her team to Walker's play is more important than completely shutting down the star forward.
"If we do guard her well, and she makes a great play, you can’t wring your hands about it or stop and worry about it,“ Coale said. “You get the ball out of bounds, go the other way and score.”
'Another game in the schedule'
Though the OU women's program is 0-12 against UConn and many would like to see a victory over the Huskies, for Coale Sunday's contest marks "another game in the schedule."
"It’s a huge opportunity for us because, obviously, if you compete against one of the best programs in the country, you get exposed, and you find out about yourself. So that’s the significance of it really, is 'How can it help prepare us for conference play?'" Coale said.
The Sooners will tip off against the Huskies at 3 p.m. CT on Sunday.