The Sooners look forward to a 32-match slate featuring seven teams that reached the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Six of the seven NCAA qualifiers advanced to the second round of the tournament, including Elite Eight participants Washington State and Big 12 foe Nebraska. OU begins the season Aug. 29 in Pullman, Wash., with the Cougar Challenge and closes the campaign with senior night against Colorado inside the Howard McCasland Field House on Nov. 28.
"Our main goal when we put together a schedule is to prepare for the Big 12," said Mahi. "Our focus is to continue to improve in the Big 12 because that provides us the best avenue for making the NCAA Tournament."
Oklahoma's pre-conference tournament schedule will take the Sooners coast to coast in the span of three weekends. OU opens the Cougar Challenge against Washington State who finished 2002 ranked No. 7 but lost five seniors from its Elite Eight squad, including its top four attackers and top defensive specialist. Mahi's squad will follow the Cougars with battles against Wichita State and San Fransisco.
OU will face Drake, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Lipscomb and Louisiana-Monroe the following weekend (Sept. 5-6) in the Chatannooga Invitational. The Sooners close the tourney slate at the Liberty University Invitational, where they'll face Elon, East Carolina, Morehead State and host Liberty.
The Big 12 Conference slate features five teams that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2002. OU will face Red River rival Texas in its first home match of the season on Sept. 24. OU faces five-time Big 12 defending champs Nebraska in Norman on Oct. 4. The match with the Huskers is the first of a three-match home stand during which the Sooner also face Iowa State (Oct. 8) and Kansas (Oct. 11). Kansas State and Missouri, both 2002 NCAA Tourney participants, travel to Norman for consecutive matches Nov. 15 and 19.