UPDATE: Jason Kersey of the Oklahoman was able to confirm late Thursday night what was readily apparent at the time to anyone who saw it. Whitney Hand did in fact suffer a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. An obviously devastating blow for a number of reasons.
Hand was the unquestioned leader of this team, both on the floor and off it. After Hand went down and was helped from the floor, Morgan Hook could be seen on the bench visibly upset. And it's that kind of impact mentally this team might not be able to recover from. Never mind the fact that following Hand's injury, they only have eight available players. Eight?!?
What was once a promising season looks have taken a turn for the worse.
Oklahoma won a hard fought game against North Texas 71-68 Thursday night, but it was a loss of another kind that put a serious damper on the evening. The Sooners lost the heart and soul of their team, senior Whitney Hand, to what had all the appearances of a serious knee injury.
While going up for a shot in the land, Hand's knee buckled in that way you never want to see. She immediately feel to the floor, grabbing her knee, and in obvious pain. Watching it on television, it didn't appear to be the pain of her knee so much as the pain of knowing the feeling of what a serious knee injury feels like having already gone through it before. If it's possible to find a silver lining in this, it would be the fact this wasn't the knee Hand previously injured but for a fifth year senior to suffer another potentially serious knee injury just nine games into the season is devastating on many levels.
You hate to speculate on these type of situations before the school confirms anything, but watching Sherri Coale in her post game interview it was evident the bad news is all but inevitable. Coale's voice was breaking up when she was asked about Hand's injury and her general take away was "It didn't look good."
As for the game, North Texas gave Oklahoma all they could handle. Even before the injury to Hand, the Sooners fell behind by as many as nine points and once again struggled with turnovers. Oklahoma only shot 35% from the field and an even worse 21% from three point range. The difference in the game proved to be the 40 (!!!) free throw attempts for OU versus the 13 for North Texas.
The Sooners were lead in scoring by Nicole Griffin and her 15 points, only missing double-double by one rebound. She was joined in double figures by teammates Morgan Hook (12), Joanna McFarland (12), and Sharane Campbell (11).
It certainly wasn't pretty, but it was a win as Oklahoma prepares for an extended break before returning to action December 16th. However, most of the attention following the game is of course on the status of Whitney Hand and what is expected to be a season ending injury. If the speculation proves accurate, it would leave an already depleted OU team with just eight available players. Not to mention their unquestioned leader and this season could have just taken a significant turn for the worse.