OU Begins Trek With No. 20 DePaul

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 10, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 3 Oklahoma women’s basketball team begins the 2006-07 season with the State Farm Tip-Off Classic at the Lloyd Noble Center Sunday. The Sooners will face No. 20/19 DePaul in the second game of the day at 2:30 p.m. Central. The opening game will showcase No. 9 Georgia and No. 12/11 Rutgers at noon.

Both games will be televised live on ESPN2 (Cox channel 37 in OKC) with Jon Sciambi (play-by-play), Kara Lawson (color) and Debbie Antonelli (sideline) on the broadcast of both games. OU fans can also catch the game on KOKC 1520 AM with the voices of Sooner basketball Brian Brinkley (play-by-play) and Tara DeGiusti (color).  Live stats for both games will be provided on SoonerSport.com.

 Game Notes PDF | Live Stats 

All session ticktes remain at $10 for adults and $5 for childen. General admission season tickets are also still available at the low cost of $95.

Oklahoma enters the game having won 14 straight regular season games, dating back to a 75-71 loss at Ohio State on Jan. 9, 2006.  The Sooners tuned up for the regular season with a pair of decisive exhibition wins.   Preseason consensus All-American Courtney Paris averaged 21. 5 points in the exhibition season, but was out rebounded by her sister, Ashley Paris, who averaged 12 boards per contest. 

DePaul has also won a pair of exhibition games over Lewis College (93-83) and Chicago Challengers (92-67).  The Blue Demons, who lost their leading scorer Khara Smith to graduation last season, have been led offensively by junior forward Carprice Smith and her 19.5 points per game.

After Sunday the Sooners hit the road for six consecutive games and will not play at LNC until Dec. 10.

Setting The Scene
Event: State Farm Tip-Off Classic
Date: Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006
Location: Norman, Okla.
Tipoffs: Noon & 2:30 p.m. Central
Venue: Lloyd Noble Center (12,000)
TV Talent: Jon Sciambi (PBP), Kara Lawson (Color), Debbie Antonelli (Sideline)
Webcast: Live stats on SoonerSports.com
Radio: KOKC and Yahoo! Radio (1520 AM)
Radio Talent: Brian Brinkley (Play-by-Play) & Tara DeGiusti
Tickets:  (800) 456-GoOU

Player To Watch
Sunday is a dream debut for Oklahoma freshman Amanda Thompson. The 6-0 forward is a Chicago native who attended Whitney Young HS.  Thompson, who was a McDonald’s All-American last season, regularly played on the DePaul campus during open gym hours and is familiar with the majority of the Blue Demon roster.

Previewing DePaul
The DePaul Blue Demons went 27-7 in 2005-06 and reached the Sweet 16 in the San Antonio where they fell to eventual Final Four participant LSU.   Four starters return from the Sweet 16 team, but the Blue Demons will be challenged to replace graduated center Khara Smith and her 17.5 points per game.

Junior guard Allie Quigley is the leading returning scorer (15.0 PPG) and 3-point shooter (60 made) on the roster.  Fellow retuning starter Jenna Rubino also averaged 12. 4 points last season.

DePaul head coach Doug Bruno is entering his 21st season at the helm of the program. He has a 375-217 (.633) career record .  Last year he led the Blue Demons to a third place tie in their first season of play in the Big East Conference.

The Blue Demons struggled to put away Lewis College in their first exhibition, a 93-83 win.  Quigley led DePaul with 25 points, while Caprice Smith netted 19 points and 12 rebounds.  DePaul was hampered by 26 turnovers compared to Lewis’ 28.

DePaul cruised to an easy 92-67 win over the Chicago Challengers in their second exhibition of the season. Smith came up big again with 20 points and 14 boards.  She averaged 19.5 points and 13 rebounds in the exhibition season.  The Blue Demons also cut their turnover total down to 16.

DePaul only has two players taller than 6-1.  Felicia Chester and Natasha Williams are both 6-3 but did not play in either exhibition.

DePaul’s losses last season came to San Francisco, Notre Dame, UConn, Rutgers, West Virginia and the aforementioned LSU.  They were ranked all season and reached as high as No. 10 in the coaches poll.

Sunday will mark the first meeting between the two insitutions.  All-time OU is 3-6 against the Big East.

Buy Tickets | Signing Class | OU Rolls | News Wire

DePaul Connections
* DePaul head coach Doug Bruno is the current President of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and Sherri Coale is the vice president, in line to be the president this off-season.

* Amanda Thompson has played during open gym time with nearly every returning player on the DePaul roster.  She played with or against Rachael Carney, Ciara Johnson, Caprice Smith, Diedre Naughton and Holley Medley during her high school or AAU seasons.

Oklahoma freshman Nyeshia has become a fan favorite almost as quickly as she sprints down the court on a fast break.  The ultra-athletic forward shined during the exhibition season and flashed an all-around game that surprised even the OU coaching staff.

Stevenson posted averages of 13 points, 5.5 rebounds, two assists, one steal while shooting 76.8 percent from the field and 50 percent form three point range. 

The 5-9 rookie who primarily played in the post as a prepster learned quickly that she can use her unique blend of speed and length to dribble and drive past most defenders.  From there she expanded her arsenal and nailed a handful of outside shots.

Tip-Off Classic History
OU has played in the Tip-Off Classic two previous times.  The Sooners faced Purdue during the 2001-02 season in Durham, N.C.  OU won that contest 80-75.  The following season, OU faced Tennessee in Knoxville and lost 94-68.  This season marks the first time that OU has hosted the Tip-Off Classic.

Paris Leads AP Preseason All-Americans
After leading the country in rebounds last season, Courtney Paris led all players with 47 of a possible 50 votes for the AP preseason All-America Team.

It’s nothing new for Paris to dominate other players, but she was among an elite and experienced field this time.   The Sooner sophomore center gained more votes than North Carolina’s Ivory Latta, Stanford’s Candice Wiggins, Maryland’s Crystal Langhorne and Tennessee’s Candace Parker.

“That’s pretty exciting,” said a rarely understated Paris. “I am not sure how to respond to such an honor.  It motivates me to live up to expectations and to improve on the standards I set last season as a player and as part of my team at Oklahoma.”

In 2005-06 Paris became the first true freshman named to the AP All-America Team since its inception in 1995.  She was a consensus All-American and the USBWA National Freshman of the Year.

Preseason Pub
Courtney Paris is featured in the current issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids and will be feature in the December issue of Slam Magazine (news stands late November).
Paris’ Preseason Awards:
Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year
Preseason All-Big 12 First Team
Player of the Year Watch List - Wade Trophy, Wooden Award
Preseason First Team All-American -
AP, Athlon Sports, CSTV.com, CBSSportsline.com,
Street & Smith’s and ESPN.com

The Double-Double Streak
Courtney Paris, who lead the NCAA with 33 double-doubles last season, has recorded a double-double in 28 straight games.  The streak began against UCLA on Dec. 5, 2005.

Thompson on ESPN Freshman List
Sooner forward Amanda Thompson was selected by ESPN.com analyst Nancy Lieberman as freshman to watch.   Here is what the basketball legend wrote about the Sooner rookie:

“The Sooners are loaded but get even deeper with the addition of this explosive player who already has a college body. Thompson is also excellent off the dribble-drive and is a great passer and shot-blocker.”

Preseason Success
* Oklahoma is 15-0 in exhibition games since 2000.
* OU broke a one year old exhibition attendance record with a crowd of 7,642 for the Lake Truck game.  The previous mark of 5,342 was set in its exhibition game against Oklahoma Christian last season.

Experimental Rules
The NCAA Rules Committee is enforcing two experimental rules
during all Division I women’s basketball exhibition games and sanctioned events, including the State Farm Tip-Off Classic.
The 3-point line has been moved back nine inches (20 feet, 6 inches from rim) and is marked by a three-inch line. Players can shoot a legal 3-pointer from beyond or on top of that line, but the shot will be worth two points if any portion of the foot crosses the inside of the line.

The second experimental rule is the 10-second backcourt rule that
is utilized in men’s game. Teams have 10 seconds to get the ball across half court after a made basket or change in possession.

Experimental Effect?
You would not have known the 3-point line was moved back in OU’s exhibitions.  The Sooners were 12-29 from long range, good on 41 percent of their tries.  Erin Higgins, who has an affinity for long range 3’s, was 7-of-9 from deep. 

No back court violations were called on either team, although neither employed full court pressure.

The Experience Factor
A couple notes on the level of experience OU has on its roster.

* Between eight players, including six seniors, OU has 344 career starts.  Sophomore Carolyn Winchester is the only upperclassman that has never started a game for OU.

* The combined consecutive starts of the returning starting five of Britney Brown (25), Chelsi Welch (23), Erin Higgins (6), Leah Rush (86) and Courtney Paris (36) is 176.

* Since earning her first start at Texas A&M during her freshman season Leah Rush has started 86 straight games.

* Erin Higgins had started 77 straight games before senior night last season when she gave up the honor to then-senior Laura Andrews.

* Leah Rush, Erin Higgins, Chelsi Welch, Erin Higgins and Courtney Paris already appear in the OU career record books a total of 14 times.

Home Court Advantage
OU posted a 12-1 record on its home floor, the Lloyd Noble Center, in 2005-06 and owns a 89-19 (.825) mark since the start of the 1998-99 season.  Under Sherri Coale, OU is 95-34 (.736) at LNC. All-time, OU is 255-103 (.712) at Lloyd Noble.

Season Ticket Update
As of Thursday, Nov. 9, Oklahoma has sold 6,600 season tickets, which includes selling out the entire lower bowl (5,000) as reserved season tickets.  The sales have raced past the program record of  4,013 set last season.  The current total does not include the 300 seats in the lower bowl that are held for students, which were routinely filled during the 2005-06 season.

General admission season ticket sales remain strong and fans are encouraged to purchase those tickets prior to the start of the season.  GA Season Tickets cost $95. 

Group and single game ticket sales are also on sale.  Single game GA tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children. The lone exception is the State Farm Tip-Off Classic (two games for one price), which costs $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Last season OU set numerous attendance records including season ticket sales (4,013), average attendance (7,630) and single game attendance (12,112 vs. Baylor on Feb. 12).

OU Debuts at No. 3 in Coaches & AP Polls
OU appeared at No. 3 in both USA Today/ESPN Preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll and the AP preseason Poll.  Both rank as the highest preseason ranking in program history by either outlet.  The unofficial magazine and internet polls that had come out over the last month had the Sooners slotted anywhere from No. 2 to No. 6.  In 2001-02, OU was No. 4 in the Associated Press preseason poll, which had been a program best.  That same year OU was No. 5 in the Coaches poll.  This marks the seventh consecutive season OU has been in preseason poll.

For the second consecutive season Britney Brown, Erin Higgins and Leah Rush will serve as team captains for Oklahoma.  The captains were voted on and selected by their teammates.

Sophomore forward Carolyn Winchester was inactive with a mild concussion against Missouri Western but is expected to be cleared to play against DePaul. Senior Krista Sanchez was limited to four minutes due to a shoulder injury.  She is expected to play on Sunday, but will continue to wear a shoulder harness.

Paris Only Needed a Half...
Courtney Paris recorded a double-double in a single half on 10 occasions (4 first half, 6 second half) last season, including OU’s second round NCAA game against BYU when she had 11 points and 10 boards at halftime.

Her three other first half double-dips came against Texas (second meeting), UCLA and SMU.  Her second half double-doubles were against New Mexico (twice), Illinois, Michigan State, Texas (first meeting) and Baylor (second meeting).  As usual, Paris shined in the brightest spotlight with five of these double-doubles coming against ranked teams.




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