Kurt Budke is in lockdown this week. Football mentality. Bar the door. Lift the gates. Don’t let anyone know what you’re doing. Budke is trying to use whatever advantage he’s got with his Oklahoma State Cowgirls in the NCAA Tournament. Because he certainly has a huge disadvantage.
OSU will play Chattanooga in Tempe, Ariz., in the NCAA’s first round, and the Cowgirls will play without superstar point guard Andrea Riley, who is sitting out a one-game NCAA suspension for hitting an opposing player two years ago. And there’s no telling what OSU will do without Riley, because for four years, she’s carried the Cowgirls. The scoring. The passing. The dribbling. When OSU has the ball, Riley is dribbling the ball 90 percent of the time. She rarely rests. She played all 40 minutes of all three State games in the Big 12 Tournament last week. Who has any idea what the Cowgirls do without Riley? How they will respond or even who will replace her? "I’ve got a little idea,” Budke said, but he’s not saying. The Cowgirls’ backup point guards are senior Ally Clardy and freshman Desiree Jeffries. Clardy has averaged 8.8 minutes a game, though most of that was playing alongside Riley. Jeffries has played just 76 minutes all season. "We’ve got an opportunity to pull out a whole new game plan,” Budke said. "We’ve talked about it as coaches already. (Chattanooga) can get all the film they want. It’s not going to matter, is it?” Our only clue on OSU’s fate is the second half of the Texas A&M game in Stillwater, after Budke benched Riley for an undisclosed locker room situation. Clardy and Jeffries both played 12 minutes total that night.