NORMAN — Sherri Coale didn't mince words Friday when discussing freshman guard Gioya Carter.
“There's something magical that happens with Gioya Carter when she walks across the boundary line,” the Oklahoma women's basketball coach said during Friday's media day news conference. “She becomes an athlete. It's special and it resonates. And in that regard, I get a little flashback to a kid named Stacey Dales.”
Before the Carl Albert product has played a single game of college basketball, Carter is already drawing comparisons to Dales, one of the program's greatest all-time players and a two-time All-American who led the Sooners to the 2002 national championship game.
Oklahoma held its intrasquad scrimmage Friday night inside the Lloyd Noble Center, and hosts Cameron next Saturday in its first 2013 exhibition game.
The Sooners return lots of experience from last season's Sweet 16 team, including senior guards Aaryn Ellenberg and Morgan Hook, but forward Joanna McFarland represents one significant loss.
McFarland led Oklahoma in rebounding, but her presence as a tough, fiery instigator might be even tougher for these Sooners to replace.
“I worried about that,” Coale said. “Where will our edge come from? Because Jo was our fighter.
“I think we've found some edge. I don't mind putting a little pressure on Gioya Carter by talking about her right now. She brings some edge. She's got a toughness about her, and a bravado about her that has been somewhat contagious.”
Carter, who was The Oklahoman's 2013 Super 5 Player of the Year after leading Carl Albert to its ninth straight state tournament, said she doesn't mind that pressure.
“I'm fine with it,” Carter said. “I just come out every day and try to work hard. As long as I'm working hard every day and she believes in me, that's all I'm worried about.”