OU’s victory over Kentucky put the Sooners in the Final Four for the third time in the 2000s. Only Connecticut (eight appearances), Tennessee (seven), LSU (five), Duke (three) and Stanford (three) have been to the Final Four this much this century. Coach Sherri Coale credited seniors Amanda Thompson, Nyeshia Stevenson and Abi Olajuwon for creating a "tremendous legacy ... that puts us in a different league. That’s a different deal. "Back-to-back years, I can’t say that it puts us in a Tennessee and Connecticut league because we haven’t won it yet. But you can’t win it if you don’t keep going. I just think it separates us a little bit, and (it’s) a very special moment for our program.”
STANFORD PLAYERS HONOREDStanford players Jayne Appel and Nnemkadi Ogwumike were named to the John Wooden Award’s women’s all-American team announced Monday. They were joined on the first team by Nebraska’s Kelsey Griffin and Connecticut’s Maya Moore and Tina Charles.
SOONERS ARRIVE TODAYOU’s team charter arrives in San Antonio today and a Fiesta welcoming is planned at 6:45 p.m. at the Sooner team hotel, the Westin Riverwalk, 420 W. Market Street.
HELPING HANDEven when star guard Whitney Hand went down with a season-ending knee injury in November, OU didn’t stop thinking about San Antonio. "We never took our brains and our minds off of going back to the Final Four,” said point guard Danielle Robinson. "We felt that if we did, we would be settling. "You know, Whitney is not gone, she’s still a captain. She’s still at practice every day. She’s just not playing.”
DUBIOUS ANNIVERSARYThe Sooners’ regional semifinal victory over Notre Dame on Sunday was the 20-year anniversary of OU dropping the program, only to reinstate it eight days later. Some of the Sooners weren’t even aware of that dubious event from 1990. "I saw a special on it the other day,” said OU freshman Joanna McFarland. "I didn’t know that until I watched that. That’s crazy. It really just shows how far we’ve come and how far we can go.” OU assistant coach Jan Ross said time dulls the effects of such events. "People aren’t using it against us anymore recruiting wise,” she said with a laugh.
MAGNET SCHOOL?Considering Olajuwon (daughter of former NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon) and Carlee Roethlisberger (sister of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) are on the roster, and Bubba Paris’ daughters were on the team the previous four years, Coale was asked if her program attracts players from famous athletic families. "No,” Coale said. "I don’t coach the siblings nor the players’ parents. It’s just mere coincidence. I found Carlee Roethlisberger doing a coaching clinic in Ohio. I had recruited Courtney and Ashley (Paris) for a long time before I figured out who Bubba Paris was. So it’s about the kids.” Bubba Paris was a standout lineman in the NFL.
HELLO, BAYLORBaylor joins OU in the Final Four, giving the Big 12 two Final Four teams for the first time. "I think it speaks volumes about the Big 12,” Coale said. "Folks are starting to catch on, and they’re talking about it being the toughest conference in the country, obviously the most well-attended conference in the country, and for us and Baylor to both be playing there, I think the proof is in the pudding.”
DEFENSIVE DEMONStevenson’s offense has blossomed. But so has her defense, as befitting such an athletic wing player. "Nyeshia was just fantastic,” Coale said after the Kentucky game. "She said, ‘I’m guarding people!’ I said, ‘Yes, ma’am, you certainly are.”