Not long after, Eden Williams joined the team so it would have enough practice players. Even though the Sooners were going through a devastating time, there were no signs that the troubles were tearing them apart. It was still a team having Bible study and going to the movies.
That bond never weakened.
“I wish everyone could see these people,” Williams said of her basketball teammates. “I wish they could see how they react and how they handle things.”
Such as coming back from a 22-point deficit to beat West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament.
“I still was like, ‘We're gonna win. They want it,'” Williams said. “It was just the look on their faces.
“I mean, not a lot of people get to look in the huddle, but when you're looking at those five people ... there was no way we were going to lose that game.”
Williams counts that come-from-behind win as her favorite memory from the season. It was indicative of everything that has made this team so successful. They faced serious adversity, but they beat it because everyone stepped up and played hard.
You play that way when you want to do right by your teammates.
These Sooners clearly want that, something that even outsiders can see it.
“I don't care if they're dealing with five (healthy) people, six, seven, eight; they play extremely hard,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “They play extremely well together and feed off each other.”
Eden Williams knows the reason why. She's seen it in the games. She's seen it during the practices. She's seen it in the locker room.
It's the love.
“With so many things that they've gone through, who thought they were going to be in the Sweet 16?” she said. “No one thought they could to it. They just proved 'em wrong.
“I think that's what they're meant to do; they're meant to prove people wrong.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.