When Whitney Hand, Oklahoma's emotional and floor leader, went down with an injury in early December, not a lot changed for Morgan Hook on the court.
Hook was still the Sooners' point guard, directing the offense and defense and bringing the ball down the floor.
Hook has gone through ups and downs since Hand's injury, but she enters Saturday's NCAA Tournament opener against Central Michigan in Columbus, Ohio, better for it.
“At some times, those of us who really know her game well … we can see ways that it negatively affected her game and what she could do as she was trying to pick up those pieces,” Sooners coach Sherri Coale said. “But at the end of it all, it made her a much better player.”
It's hard to quantify the ways Hook's role has evolved.
“It changed in every way, in every facet,” Coale said. “Yes, she was the point guard before (but) that feels different when the heart and soul of your team wasn't on the floor anymore.
“It just does. You can say the job is the same but the job is not the same. It feels different.”
With Hand's injury, juniors Hook, Aaryn Ellenberg and Nicole Griffin in particular had to take up increased leadership roles.
But none felt the weight of those expectations more than Hook.
“It's definitely had its times where it's been a little bit more difficult than I thought it would be,” Hook said.
In those moments, usually during practice, Hook catches Hand's eyes.