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Shoot-a-thons at daybreak turned OU's Whitney Hand into a sharpshooter

by Jenni Carlson Modified: April 3, 2009 at 4:49 am •  Published: April 3, 2009
NORMAN — Whitney Hand had an early-morning routine throughout high school that was simple.

Wake up before 5.

Arrive at the gym before 6.

"And I’d shoot until my arm fell off,” she said.

The Oklahoma sharpshooter would have to make 300 shots before she left the gym.

"Not occasionally,” her father said. "Every morning.”

Just because Hand’s routine was simple doesn’t mean it was easy.

That she has become one of the Sooners’ go-to players as a freshman is no surprise. That she is one of the most dangerous weapons on a Final Four team is no accident.

She worked her way here.

The making of this sharpshooter began when she was only 5 or 6 years old. With six children, Rich and Susan Hand decided to save some of their drive time and sanity by enrolling daughters Jordyn and Whitney in the same sports. Never mind that Whitney was two years younger.

"And I didn’t tell her she was two years younger,” Rich said, chuckling. "She elevated.”

Hand and her father spent an untold number of hours working on her game. She shot. He rebounded. She worked. He tutored.

They refined that straight-up, dead-eye shot.

"Stay in that tunnel,” he would say.

And she would listen.

Hand decided when she was in sixth grade that her dream was to become a basketball player. A really good basketball player.

She recognized that her dad knew what it would take. He grew up the son of a plumber in Seattle, a kid who spent hours throwing tape balls against the fence, but he became the No. 1 pick in Major League Baseball’s supplemental draft in 1969.

"It would be foolish for me not to follow,” Hand said.

Not that she always liked what her dad had to say.

"There were days in the driveway where I wanted to throw the ball back at him and go inside,” she said, "and he wouldn’t let me until I was done.”

Like the time right after Hand had just started playing summer basketball. All the girls on her team thought they were good enough to shoot threes, but they were too young and too little to get the ball to the rim without straying from their fundamentals.

Rich told her not to shoot threes because it would mess with her form.

Whitney shot threes anyway.

Not long after, she struggled to hit anything.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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3-Louisville vs. 1-OU
→When: 6 p.m. Sunday

→Where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis

→TV: ESPN (Cox 29)

→Radio: KOKC-AM 1620

→Tickets: The Women’s Final Four is sold out, but a limited number of all-session tickets costing $162 are available on

Whitney Hand’s numbers
→Points per game: 9.1 (fifth on team)

→Field goals: 103-257 (40.1 percent)

→3-pointers attempted: 158 (first on team)

→3-pointers made: 59 (first on team)

→3-point shooting: 37.3 percent

→Free throws: 27-33 (81.8 percent)

→Season-high points: 22 vs. Pittsburgh in Sweet 16

→When: 8:30 p.m. Sunday

→Where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis

→TV: ESPN (Cox 29)

→Tickets: The Women’s Final Four is sold out, but a limited number of all-session tickets costing $162 are available on


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