Good news for Sooners: Courtney’s streak ends
Courtney Paris’ remarkable 112-game streak of double-doubles — double digit totals in both points and rebounds — ended on an historic Monday night in at the Ford Center.
And that’s a good thing for OU women’s basketball.
On the night the Sooners bounced Tennessee 80-70 (wasn’t that close), Paris’ came a point shy of extended her streak. It wasn’t for lack of trying.
In the final three minutes, the Sooners desperately tried to get Paris points. On four straight possessions, with a commanding lead, OU went to Courtney. She made one basket, bringing her total to nine, and also committed a turnover and missed two shots.
In the final minute, Tennessee fouled Nyeshia Stevenson before OU could set up an offense, then Courtney fouled out on the other end with 41 seconds to go, receiving a rousing and deserved ovation.
But the end of the streak could be the best thing that ever happened to OU and Courtney. The streak had taken on a life of its own, and nowhere was that more evident than the final few minutes of the OU-Tennessee game.
The Sooners were about to record one of the most monumental wins in school history, their victory over the giants of the sport, and yet all focus was on an individual pursuit. It all seemed a little awkward, and don’t throw stones at ESPN’s Bobby Knight for saying so. Knight was right.
Anytime individual records rise to this level, it’s not good for team chemistry. I’m not saying any Sooner was jealous about Courtney’s ample accomplishments. But when individual records trump team goals, it’s not good.
Coaches preach team, team, team. But that sermon can be compromised if an individual situation arises, even if all intentions are honorable.
And truth is, the streak had taken on a life of its own. Several times this year, OU clearly was trying to extend the streak.
Against Creighton, Paris reached double-digit points with 1:54 left, leading 64-44.
Against Missouri, Paris reached 10 points with 6:55 left and OU up 69-38.
Against Texas A&M, Paris extended the streak with a basket with 58 seconds left in a 65-54 game.
Against Saint Louis, Paris scored two baskets in the final 4:04 to reach 11 points, the first with the score 81-55.
The streak raised some eyebrows a year ago, when OU played in a tournament in Mexico and asked for a box-score change after reviewing the tape, seeking more rebounds for Paris to extend the streak. The adjustment was legit, but still, that was a sign that the streak was important in Soonerville. Maybe too important.
Anytime individual accomplishments become so central to an organization, it can throw a team off track. These Sooners are by no means off track, but OU will be much better off down the stretch focusing entirely on team goals.
Courtney, too, might be better freed from the pressure of extending the streak. She’s her usual productive self; though her numbers are down, that’s largely the result of more weapons among her teammates.
This Oklahoma season has a chance to ultra successful. But you don’t reach the Final Four and you don’t beat Connecticut without all-out commitment to the team. And OU’s fascination with the streak — even if it’s not necessariy Courtney who was fascinated with it — could have been a hurdle.
That hurdle is gone now. The streak is recorded for history and will be hard-pressed to ever be matched. But the streak’s demise could be a good for the Sooners.
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