Sept. 27, 2001

NORMAN, Okla. - In a poll released earlier this week, the University of Oklahoma women's basketball team tops the chart of Lindy's Preseason Top 25 Poll, a first in program history. Duke, Connecticut, Tennessee and Texas Tech rounds out the top five while six teams from the Big 12 Conference appear on list including TTU (No. 5), Iowa State (No. 8), Colorado (No. 13), Baylor (No. 16) and Texas (No. 22).

"This is a tremendous honor that people across the country think that highly about our program and players," said Sooner coach Sherri Coale. "The truth of the matter is that we have to prove it every night and every day on the floor. This season will be no different than any others in that our players have to continue to get better every day and that will be our focus throughout this season."

While it's really nice to be a preseason No. 1, what's really important is how we finish the year. I hope that in April this poll looks just the same."

Earning individual honors for OU was senior Stacey Dales (Brockville, Ontario, Canada/Thousand Islands Secondary School). She is one of five players named to Lindy's Preseason All-America first team. Other preseason honors for Dales include Women's Basketball News Service co-Player of the Year and All-America first team accolades by Athlon and WBNS. Sooners LaNeishea Caufield (Ada, Okla./Ada HS) and Caton Hill (Ada, Okla./Ada HS) were also named to the WBNS All-American honorable mention team.

Coale led OU to a school-best 28-6 overall record and first-place 15-1 Big 12 Conference mark in 2001. The Sooners repeated their NCAA Sweet 16 appearance for second year and closed out the campaign ranked seventh in the country. Oklahoma returns 11 letterwinners from last year's squad which won its second straight conference title and welcomes four freshmen and one transfer to this year's team.

Dales, 2001 Kodak All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year, had a phenomenal season for the Sooners a year ago. She averaged 16.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.4 steals and a Big 12-leading 7.3 assists a game. Her mark for assists per game ranked eighth in the NCAA. Dales also shot 47.6 percent from the field and had a team-best 1.8 assist/turnover ratio.

Caufield, who led the nation in total steals with 135, was OU's second leading scorer with 15.8 ppg. She also ranked second in the nation and led the league in steals per game, pocketing an impressive 4.0 per contest. The Oklahoma native enters her senior season holding the school's all-time record in thefts with 305 and ranks sixth in points scored with 1,499, 688 shy of the school record.

Hill, a junior, is OU's top returning rebounder with 9.3 boards per game. She led the Sooners in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 45.8 percent (27-of-59) of her shots, and ranked third on the team in points with 13.0 ppg. Hill ended the last season bettering her previous single season record for most defensive rebounds with 219. She now holds the program's top two marks in this category. The Ada, Okla., native spent the summer fine tuning her skills with the USA Women's Basketball team that won a gold medal at the World University Games in Beijing, China.

Oklahoma tips off the 2001-02 season with a pair of exhibition games on Nov. 1 against Southern Nazarene and Nov. 6 versus Oklahoma Christian. Both games will be played at the OU Field House. The Sooners will open the season against Purdue, last year's national runner-up, as one of four teams participating in the State Farm's Tip-Off Classic in Durham, N.C., on Nov. 11.

Lindy's 2001-02 Preseason Top 25 Poll

1.Oklahoma
2.Duke
3.Connecticut
4.Tennessee
5.Texas Tech
6.Louisiana Tech
7.Vanderbilt
8.Iowa State
9.Stanford
10. Michigan
11.Florida
12. LSU
13.Colorado
14.North Carolina State
15.Purdue
16. Baylor
17.Georgia
18. Colorado State
19. Old Dominion
20. Washington
21. Utah
22. Texas
23. Saint Mary's
24. Arizona State
25. Rutgers