After seven consecutive home games and two weeks off for final exams, Oklahoma State will leave the friendly confines of Gallagher-Iba Arena for the first time Saturday when the Cowgirls play South Florida in the All-College Classic at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The trip, of course, isn't a long one. And it's not even a true road test, as the Cowgirls will still be backed by a pro-OSU crowd.
But it will still largely be a new experience for the Cowgirls' eight newcomers. At a practice earlier this week, freshmen were shown how to fill out their meal sheet. Coaches also went over small details, such as which outfits to wear Friday and Saturday.
“It's overwhelming at times for freshmen,” said senior point guard Tiffany Bias, who's been through this rodeo countless times, “because they've never had to this and they're kind of looking at (the veterans) like, ‘Um, what do we do?' That deer-in-headlights look.
“But they're doing fine. They're adjusting great.”
Saturday's mini-trip should be good preparation for next week, when the Cowgirls travel to Puerto Rico to play Michigan State and Georgia Tech in the Puerto Rico Classic.
“They've just got to live it, they've got to experience it,” Cowgirl coach Jim Littell said. “… I'm sure there will be some jitters with the first time away from home, but our veterans ought to know how to handle it better.”
SCOUTING SOUTH FLORIDA
South Florida comes into Saturday's contest with a moderate 5-3 record. But the Bulls have plenty of recent experience in big-time games.
As a No. 10 seed in last season's NCAA Tournament, South Florida upset No. 7 seed Texas Tech on its home floor and in the second round nearly beat second-seeded California, which advanced to the Final Four.
“Very fast, very athletic, push the ball hard,” Littell said when asked to describe the Bulls' style. “Just very good on the offensive glass … they do a lot of different things, run a lot of good sets and we've got a big challenge ahead of us.”
The Bulls are led this season by guard Courtney Williams, who averages 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and forward Alisia Jenkins, who averages a double-double with 10.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Littell on the Cowgirls being the first women's team to play in the All-College Classic: “An opportunity to watch our men play, to play where (Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook play, it ought to be a thrill for our players and coaches.”