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. She becomes the focus for the opponent on both ends of the floor, and she puts her teammates at ease. Funny, but a few pundits and prognosticators in these parts have suggested that Paris might not be the best player on this Sooner squad. Perhaps twin sister Ashley is better. Or Danielle Robinson. Or Whitney Hand. Or Amanda Thompson. No offense to any of those gals — all of them are really, really good players — but there are only a handful of players in the country who are as good as Courtney Paris. But the thing that sets her apart and that just might put her team over the top is her mentality. Courtney Paris has the will of a champion and the heart of a dreamer. That’s a rare and powerful combination. No doubt Paris made her bold prediction Wednesday night because she believes in her teammates and what they can accomplish, but the truth is, she believes in no one more than herself. Paris didn’t back off her guarantee after the microphone was off and the spotlight was out. She said she’d been thinking for some time about what she was going to say on Senior Night, and she was absolutely committed to fulfilling her promise. Paris wants a national championship. Want another promise? Watching these next few weeks should be as every bit as much fun as her Senior Night speech. Jenni Carlson: 475-3314. Jenni Carlson can be heard Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. on KEBC-AM 1340.
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