NORMAN — Courtney Paris swore she was bad at giving speeches. Could’ve fooled everyone at the Lloyd Noble Center. The Oklahoma superstar capped Senior Night with a super-sized promise.
"We’re gonna win a national championship,” she told the crowd. What remained of the packed house that witnessed a 61-49 victory against Texas Tech and a Big 12 championship crowning Wednesday night roared its approval. But wait, there was more to this national-championship pledge. "If we don’t, which is not even an option,” Paris said after the applause died down, "just to put something on the line — and it might take me the rest of my life — I will pay back my scholarship because I didn’t do what I said I was going to do.” I’m not sure what history’s great orators would say about her speech, but it sure brought down the house. And why not be so bold? This is a team built to win a championship. It has size and skill. It has speed and athleticism. It has experience and youth in the appropriate amounts. But more than anything, it has Paris. She is a transcendent player. As much as she is celebrated and ballyhooed, sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. She scores 12 points and grabs 16 rebounds against Texas Tech, and it’s essentially a ho-hum, so-so night. Think about that — 12 points and 16 rebounds is average where Paris is concerned. She changes everything that happens on the floor. Even when she isn’t scoring or rebounding, she is still impacting the game.