Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale was frustrated with the crowd size at Sunday’s game. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
She recalls a play late in Sunday’s victory against South Dakota State when the Sooners had gone cold and the Jackrabbits had a chance to make things interesting. The fans sensed a defining moment and rose to their feet.
"You could hear the roar,” Coale said. "South Dakota State came down and made a guard-to-guard pass with just a little too much elevation on it.”
Off the hands. Out of bounds.
"Huge, huge play,” Coale said, "and I think our crowd really made that play more than we did.”
Coale realizes Sunday’s sparse attendance could’ve been a product of several factors. Spring break. Less-than-ideal road conditions. A late tipoff.
With a fan base consisting largely of retirement-age folks and families with school-age children, late start times are an issue.
"We are always trying to balance that very precarious issue of we want our games on television ... but we can’t all play at once,” Coale said. "Probably when ESPN looks at it ... we’re a victim of our own success. They’re saying, ‘People in Oklahoma are gonna come out whenever you play that game.’ And obviously, comparatively so, we did.
"But we’d have played that game at 2 o’clock on Sunday afternoon, I don’t think we’d have seen too many seats empty.”
With another 8:30 tipoff tonight, could there be another small crowd at the Lloyd Noble Center?
If the arena is closer to capacity and the crowd is a factor in the game, Coale has a promise for the fans ala Stoops after that Texas Tech game.
"I’ll give them a game ball,” she said, smiling.