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OU women’s basketball, meet Australia

Stephanie Kuzydym Published: August 7, 2012
Senior Whitney Hand is excited about a lot. She’s excited to go to a new continent, to a place she’s never been. She’s excited to be together with her team — together in a way that doesn’t mean scheduled runs or weight lifting. Hand’s also excited for the extra practice, where she’s watched the freshman grow more comfortable with the team.

“Sorry,” Hand said with a huge grin. “There’s just a lot to be excited about right now.”

That’s because OU women’s basketball left Tuesday for Australia.

The Sooners Down Under means more than just four games against international teams and more than a cultural experience of seeing kangaroos and visiting the Sydney Opera House. It also means 10 extra days of practice that isn’t breaking any NCAA rules.

Ten extra days. In today’s sports world? Well, we’ll just let OU women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale answer that one.

“You really gain your basketball advantage in your practice before you leave and then you get the cultural and educational side of it when you’re there,” Coale said after a recent practice. “Obviously we’ll play four games and we’ll compete to win and we’ll be in game situations that will be unique and all, that will help us, but the biggest benefit athletically helps us by being able to be on the floor with them here before we go.”

And with three new players on the team, Coale calls that advantage “huge.”

“We have a lot of veterans ” she said. “Typically — and I think it will be the case with this group — typically when you have a lot of veterans, you’re learning takes place really quickly because they outnumber, the ones who know outnumber the ones who don’t know. I think this really gives us a leg up in terms of preparation for the season.”

Even Hand said she thinks the little bit of basketball in the offseason is helping the team.

“This breaking up the offseason is going to be really helpful just so we have basketball, offseason and then basketball,” Hand said. “So I think that’s going to be really nice to kind of help our rhythm a little bit.”

Coale watched the energy and giddiness for the trip fill over into her practice. She welcomed it, enjoyed it, but she knows it will also be something she has to manage when her team returns to America.

“…if you’re not careful you can come back and be really excited about how well you did and want to get right back to practice and then all of a sudden by Novemeber 1st these guys are xhausted and not excited about anything anymore,” Coale said. “We want to try to just take the carrot and move them around and keep them always a little bit hungry.”