NORMAN — Freshman Maddie Manning had a large cheering section in her first regular-season game as an Oklahoma Sooner, even though it was a road game.
Manning's hometown of Ankeny, Iowa is located about five hours east of Omaha, Neb., where the Sooners played Creighton on Saturday It was the first time her family was able to see her play.
“It was amazing to see them in the stands for my first game and supporting me,” Manning said.
Now the freshman is gearing up for the Sooners' home opener at Lloyd Noble on Wednesday against UCLA. The Oklahoman caught up with the freshman guard after practice this week.
Q: What do you think you learned as a team from Creighton that you will take into the game against UCLA?
A: I think we learned what kind of team we are. Everybody's just going to fight nonstop. We're go-getters and just play hard-nosed defense. I think that's going to be our forte. We're just tougher than most teams.
Aaryn Ellenberg led in points in Omaha. What have you learned from her at guard?
I know if I get her the ball, she's going to score. She's just an amazing player. To be on the team, it's an honor to be her point guard. She can make things happen and it's fun to watch.
Who has taught you the most so far and what have you learned?
Coach (Sherri) Coale has definitely taught me the most. She's always teaching me on the court or watching through film. Just the little things about my game, she's able to pick apart. Nobody else sees it. When we're up in film and she's like, “Look at that.” And I'm just like, “How do you even see that?” But it's just learning from her and her experience.
What is it like to play for Sherri Coale?
I think she's the best coach. She's second to none and just knows what she's doing. She coaches us in a fun way and creates an awesome atmosphere for us. People can see that when we're smiling — we're still serious, but we're still smiling even when we're on the court.
You opened your career on the road. What did you learn from that?
It was definitely different running out of that tunnel. That's the only thing I've done so far. On the road, you've got to find a way to get yourself ready. There's not as many fans and when you mess up, they let you know, for sure.
What has the team told you about home openers?
That once that intro video goes off, there's nothing like playing at home in front of our great fans and just to take it all in your first couple days.
So far, what does it mean to you to play for Oklahoma?
It's an honor every day to put on the Oklahoma jersey — just what everything represents.
UCLA vs. Oklahoma
*When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
*Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
*TV: FSPLUS (Cox 68), FCS (Cox 271)
*Radio: KOKC-AM 1520, KREF-AM 1400
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
*UCLA senior forward Alyssia Brewer played at Sapulpa High School before spending three years at Tennessee, where she averaged 6.9 points and 4.6 rebounds before transferring. This will be her first collegiate game in the state of Oklahoma.
*Oklahoma is 29-6 in home openers. They also have 14 consecutive home-opening victories. The average margin of the victories is 29.5
* The Sooners and Bruins have met three times before (in 2006, 2005 and 1982). Oklahoma has won the last two matchups.