NORMAN — Junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg learned a lot from her four seasons as a high school softball player.
They taught her how to play outside of her comfort zone, a skill she's relearning this season.
When the Oklahoma women's basketball team lost team leader Whitney Hand to a career-ending ACL tear, coach Sherri Coale said she would need a vocal leader to step up in her place.
Coale asked Ellenberg because the junior guard from Vegas already has the knowledge of the game. She already dissects plays and knows what went wrong and when it went wrong. She just isn't vocal about it.
The Sooners' home game Wednesday at 7 p.m. against West Virginia will be the first Big 12 test of how vocal Ellenberg can be.
“It's something that's not natural for her,” Coale said, “and she has to think about it and make herself do it.”
One of Ellenberg's closest friends on the team has noticed a difference in how she tells teammates what they did wrong, but not in a rude way.
“She adds her two cents more than she normally would when she would never say anything,” said junior guard Morgan Hook.
Hook said the team often hears Coale reminding Ellenberg that she needs to say what she's thinking. Plus, Ellenberg doesn't like to show that she's being pushed from what she's used to being — the silent threat.
“She'll never admit she's uncomfortable with most things,” Hook said. “I think she's trying.”
Ellenberg is aware that she is still making the transition from quiet follower to directional leader. Since Hand went down, Ellenberg's scoring and minutes have stayed the same. She's scored more than 20 points in each of the Sooners' last three games and is averaging 17.8 points and 29.3 minutes on the season. It's her voice that has grown.
“She always talks to me about I know what the right thing is to do and where everybody's supposed to be and where I'm supposed to be but I always keep it to myself,” Ellenberg said Coale. “The problem is sharing it with everybody else.”
So now Ellenberg is applying an old lesson from high school. She feels she is getting better.
“Softball taught me when I'm working hard at something,” Ellenberg said “I'll progress and get better at it.”
West Virginia vs. Oklahoma
*When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
*Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
*TV: FS Plus (Cox 68/715), FCS Central (Cox 271, U-verse 648)
*Radio: KREF-AM 1400
Three things to know
*This is the second meeting between the teams, but it's their first meeting as Big 12 foes. West Virginia defeated OU 83-65 in a 1989 game in Norman.
*In the Preseason Big 12 Coaches' Poll, OU and WVU tied for second.
*The Sooners are 9-0 when leading at halftime. They are 1-2 when trailing.