NORMAN — The most frustrating part of this season for Oklahoma women's basketball coach Sherri Coale was her team's ability to play its worst at inopportune times.
Like OU's 25-point loss to Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 last Saturday.
“We had that game in our gun chamber all year,” Coale said Wednesday. “The one we played against Notre Dame, the one we played against Connecticut, same game we played at Waco earlier this year. We had the game where we lost confidence, where we froze, where we half-wayed everything that we did. We couldn't quite sellout to whether it be the game plan or a particular play.
“And the frustrating part for me was that I wasn't able to purge that game from our system.”
Despite the graduation of two-time All-American point guard Danielle Robinson, the Sooners will bring back a team capable of making another deep run into the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman guard Aaryn Ellenberg proved to be a lethal scorer from the outside, averaging 16 points a game while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range.
Freshman center Nicole Griffin came out of nowhere late in the season to anchor the Sooner frontcourt, scoring a career-high 18 points in the loss to Notre Dame.
And another year should do wonders for shooting guard Whitney Hand, who had to sit out a year-and-a-half with a knee injury before returning for conference play. And even then, Hand only was able to play at about 60 percent, Coale said.
But in order to get further into the tournament, the Sooners will have to work on purging “that bad game” from their repertoire.
“People will get well and people will grow up, and that goes a long way in purging that game from our system,” Coale said. “As young guys mature in both their approach and ability to sustain concentration. As Whitney's able to practice and we're able to create some sense of confidence and stability there, in terms of reaching out and hanging on to our leader. There are a number of things that I think time will cure.
“The other way we work to purge that game out of our system is we do just that — we work. We get in the gym and compete. We get in the weight room and we compete. We get out on the hills and we compete. We fight, and we figure out how to have that sense of resolve that no situation can take away. I think you can do that.
“I think you can build that in the offseason and I think this young group will do that."