Dynamic point guard matchupIn what could be one of the top point guard matchups in this year’s NCAA women’s tournament, Oklahoma senior Danielle Robinson squares off today against James Madison senior Dawn Evans. Evans, who plays with an incurable kidney disease, is the nation’s second leading scorer (23.2). “She’s as complete an offensive player as I’ve seen all year long,” said OU coach Sherri Coale. “I knew she had crazy (shooting) range and could create and get to the rim. But I’ve been incredibly impressed with her ability to pass. That may be her greatest gift.” Robinson and Evans both participated in the Team USA trials in the summer of 2009. “I’m excited I’ll get to see her,” Evans said. “We have similar games. She’s as quick as lightning, but I also pride myself on being quick. It will be a fun matchup.”
OFFENSE IS THE KEYThe Sooners, who rely heavily on their offense and perimeter shooting, are 6-9 away from Norman. In the nine losses, OU has averaged 65.3 points and shot 38.4 percent. “Every time we’ve been aggressive offensively, and have attacked, good things have happened for us,” Coale said. “That’s key for us. We can’t be passive. We have to go make baskets. That’s our identity. That’s how we play.”
JMU CHERISHES OPPORTUNITYJames Madison is 7-8 all time in the NCAA Tournament but hasn’t won in 20 years. The 2011 senior class has compiled a school-record 100 wins, but lost in its only NCAA appearance last season as a No. 9 seed. “This group means so much to me,” James Madison coach Kenny Brooks said. “They’ve dug in and done everything I’ve asked them to do, no matter how crazy it may seem. A win like this (over OU) would be great for the program in the long run, but it would be even more special for this team right now. ... It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
READY TO GOBoth coaches said practices last week were extraordinarily sharp. “It probably was the best week of practice we’ve had in a very long time,” Brooks said. Because sophomore guard Whitney Hand, coming off a knee injury, joined the team in midseason, Coale repeatedly has said the Sooners have improved all season. “I thought Thursday’s practice was our best of the year in every facet — the way we guarded, the way we rebounded, the cadence on offense and quality of shots we got,” Coale said.
FAST BREAKJMU has played in John Paul Jones Arena. Evans scored 38 points to lead the Dukes to a road win over Virginia two years ago. ... OU’s baseball team won a best two-of-three super regional last year at Charlottesville to reach the College World Series. ... Virginia’s campus is located where the Blue Ridge Mountains meet Shenandoah National Park. ... JMU has sold 1,500 tickets through the school but could have as many as 4,000 fans at the game. ... The Dukes are ranked No. 6 in CollegeInsider.com’s national mid-major rankings. By Mike Baldwin
Dynamic point guard matchup