Stanford All-America center Jayne Appel
has been hobbled with a sprained right ankle over the last month. The injury has gotten worse over the last week, keeping her out of practice and forcing her to wear a walking boot during her recuperation.
"I think it’s hard for any injury to fully heal when you’re playing on it,” Appel said. "I don’t practice on it, so I don’t really know how it feels until game time.”
Appel was limited to eight points in 18 minutes in the Cardinal’s regional-final victory over Xavier. The injury has caused her production to diminish to 11 points and 4 rebounds per game during post-season play after posting regular-season averages of 14.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.
Robinson named All-American
OU point guard Danielle Robinson
was named to the 10-player coaches’ All-America team. For the second straight year, Connecticut’s Maya Moore
was awarded the coaches’ Wade Trophy as the national player of the year.
Others named to the team were Stanford’s Appel and Nnemkadi Ogwumike
, UConn’s Tina Charles
, Kentucky’s Victoria Dunlap
, Nebraska’s Kelsey Griffin
, Xavier’s Amber Harris
, Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender
and Virginia’s Monica Wright
Final Four owes Olajuwon
’s dad made three Final Fours with the University of Houston. Hakeem Olajuwon
lost to North Carolina in the 1982 semifinals, North Carolina State in the 1983 title game and Georgetown in the 1984 title game.
But Hakeem Olajuwon has a great history in the Alamodome. His Houston Rockets won all three Alamodome games against the San Antonio Spurs in the 1995 Western Conference playoffs, en route to Houston’s second straight NBA title.
"Hopefully he left some luck here for our side,” Abi Olajuwon said. "I think it is a great experience to play in San Antonio.”
Size vs. speed
OU-Stanford is a classic matchup of size vs. speed. Stanford is big; it starts 6-foot-4 posts Appel and Kayla Pedersen
, plus 6-2 forward Ogwumike. The Sooners counter with speedy guards Robinson and Nyeshia Stevenson
"They have really tall posts down there,” said OU’s Amanda Thompson
. "So we definitely have to take away their cadence and disrupt what they do.”
Age before beauty
is the only Final Four coach without an NCAA title. But that’s OK, she joked, "I’m younger than the others. Just barely.”
Coale is 45. Baylor’s Kim Mulkey
is 47. UConn’s Geno Auriemma
and Stanford Tara VanDerveer
both are 56.
OU freshman Lindsey Cloman
is from San Antonio and is back in her hometown for the Final Four.
"There’s no words to describe it,” Cloman said. "You touch down in the airport, and there’s just a different feeling and spark that you have. It feels weird to stay in a hotel in San Antonio.
"But there are no words to describe just being home, being in the Final Four and having all your family and friends you grew up in high school with. It is such a huge reunion.”
Recruiting Cali kids
Stanford is the flagship women’s basketball program on the West Coast. But OU has recruited some excellent Californians away from Stanford: the Paris sisters, Robinson, Olajuwon.
"I don’t know that there’s any real magic, except that a lot of Cali kids love the way people support basketball at the University of Oklahoma,” Coale said.