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Saving Soonerville: OU women’s success brightens up a gloomy year in Norman

by Jenni Carlson Modified: April 2, 2010 at 4:53 am •  Published: April 2, 2010

/> He wasn’t really expecting an answer, but here’s one anyway — it’s unbelievably hard to survive four must-win games in the NCAA Tournament, to play with great energy and high intensity in each game, to triumph even as the opponents get tougher and the stakes get higher.

But here’s the thing — it’s been even harder than that for these Sooners.

Sure, this is the first season without Courtney and Ashley Paris, but everyone knew they would eventually graduate and the Sooners would be without them. The coaches planned for it. The players prepared for it.

What no one planned or prepared for was the season-ending knee injury to Whitney Hand.

That fateful November day, the Sooners lost their top returning scorer, their best outside shooting threat and one of the biggest rays of sunshine you’ll ever see wearing a basketball uniform.

Still, this team found a way not only to survive but also to thrive.

And the Sooners have done it with class and dignity, hustle and tenacity. Watch this bunch play, and you see that they respect the game and love each other.

That’s why Amanda Thompson busts her backside to snag every rebound that falls within her zip code. Why Danielle Robinson flings her 115-pound body into the lane even though players twice her size stand between her and the goal. Why Nyeshia Stevenson takes one big shot after another and why she makes them.

Then, when they talk about their road to the Final Four, they say things like, "We get to spend more time together” and "We just don’t want it to end” and "I wish there were a million more games for us to play” and "You’re going to give your left arm and your last breath to make it happen.”

These Sooners are a feel-good bunch with a feel-good story.

Considering how things have gone in Soonerville lately, the Sooner Nation should feel great about that.