Sherri Coale has coached up yet another Top 25 team in the 2010-2011 season. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
The Oklahoma women's basketball team has thus far compiled an 11-3 record, and are ranked #14 in the latest coaches poll. Despite being a scintillating 9-0 at home, their average attendance at the Lloyd Noble Center thus far has just been 4,110 people - decidedly emptier than in the past few years. The Sooners have struggled as of late, and on the road in general, dropping 2 of their last 4, and only having a 2-3 record on the road thus far.
The great news is that Whitney Hand is finally back, and she doesn't appear to be suffering many setbacks. In her two games played thus far, she has averaged 32 minutes, 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 40% shooting beyond the arc.
Whitney provides an extra scoring option for the Sooners, who seem to have no shortage of them this year. Danielle Robinson is the team's leading scorer who has played in at least 5 games with 18.1 ppg, 6 apg, 4.1 rpg, and 3.1 steals per game. The creative point guard can drive to the basket and also get opportunities for her teammates to score. Two freshmen - Morgan Hook and Aaryn Ellenberg - are also doing quite well, averaging 11.7 and 16.5 points per game respectively. Both shoot at least 45% from beyond the arc. Lauren Willis gets less minutes, but she also shoots nearly 50% from 3-point range.
This solves a major problem that the Sooners had last year, in which they did not have a lot of people who could stretch the defense and shoot at a high percentage from 3-point range.
The Sooners displayed how dangerous they can be when they shoot at a high percentage in their last game against Nebraska, hitting 43.3% of their shots and 45.8% from beyond the arc. However, when their shooters go cold, then they struggle. In their most recent 2 losses against TCU and Arkansas, they shot below 40% from the field and approximately 25% from 3-point range, despite having a combined 46 attempts from beyond the arc. Simply put, the Sooners get in trouble when they attempt a lot of shots from beyond the arc and miss more than usual.
So, what kind of team could OU struggle against down the stretch? Well, both Arkansas and TCU are in the top 40 teams in defensive FG%, holding opponents to 34.2% and 35.6% respectively. This isn't the greatest news since they have 7 combined games remaining against Baylor (#1 in DEF FG%), Oklahoma State (#4), Connecticut (#6), Iowa State (#9), and Kansas State (#18). They also have another 2 games against highly ranked Texas A&M. However, if they can run the gauntlet with a decent record, they will be one of the most battle tested teams entering the tournament.
Next up, OU hosts Kansas State at 7pm on Wednesday night for their conference home opener. I challenge the Sooner fans to fill up the LNC and support this very successful team!