Oct. 21, 2001
NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma women's basketball coach Sherri Coale and team are excited about the completion of the first week of practice and having their own practice facility. For the first time, both the men and women basketball programs have their own practice courts due to the newly renovation Lloyd Noble Center.
"Things are going really well right now for us," said Coale. "We are loving our new practice gym and this facility will be amazing when it gets completed. It's awesome! We have a new floor, new rims and new nets how can we not love this place."
Coale has already seen the additional court pay off as a number of players are staying after practice to work on individual drills, practice foot work or just shoot an additional 100 free throws. This hasn't been possible in past years because the men's team would take the floor right after the completion of the women's practices.
"For a player to have the opportunity to stay after practice an work on individual things is really important," said Coale. "It allows them to work on things that they might not of done well in during practice. You don't want to wait until the next day because you may forget what you were doing wrong. We have not had that opportunity before and it's priceless."
In addition to the practice court, Coale and staff are anxious for the completion of their new lockerroom, training, weight and film rooms.
While work is still being done on those areas, the team continues to work through the distractions of daily drilling, plastic flapping in the wind and hammering throughout each practice. "We are working on our mental toughness because there are people drilling right beside us, people coming in and out of practice and a ton of other distractions, so everyday that we are working out we are also working on our mental toughness but it's been worth it. This facility will be amazing!"
The facility isn't the only thing that has Coale excited. She added four freshmen and one transfer to the roster this season. "We are getting a lot accomplished, we have five new kids so there's a lot of teaching going on but the players are going extremely hard," said Coale. "I have been please with the energy that they have brought to each practice and how hard they are competing and how much they are learning."
There are a few players that have already made an impression on Coale in the first week of practice. "I have been really impressed with Dionnah Jackson, a freshman out of St. Louis, Mo.," replied Coale. "We knew she was talented but she has shown that she's a quick learner and has been able to digest all the information that we have thrown at her this week."
Jackson comes to Oklahoma with solid credentials and a tremendous amount of talent. She was voted the Player-of-the-Year in the state of Missouri last season and left Parkway West High School as a two-time All-State, all-metro, all-conference and all-district selection. Jackson was also a St. Louis American Fab Five first team honoree as a junior and senior.
Other players that have impressed Coale have been seniors Rosalind Ross, Stacey Dales and LaNeishea Caufield. "Rosalind has looked really, really shape and strong this week," said Coale. "However, she still has the issue with her knee but this time last year she could hardly get through an entire practice. We had to be real careful in how we used her a year ago. This year, she hasn't missed a beat. I'm really excited about that. Plus she has that confidence now, she's not a newcomer anymore. She knows our program, our players and our goals."
If it's possible, Stacey Dales just keeps getting better and better. She's shooting the ball better than I've ever seen her shoot it and LaNeishea has her engine back. She has a spark about her that I haven't seen for a while."
In the first week of practice, Oklahoma worked mainly on defense. "I really think we will have to do more in the full court this year and we will be able to do that because of our speed," said Coale. "It's really fun to watch them practice and the way they get up and down the court, so we will utilize that. We have had a lot of players look good in our full court extended defense, so I'm excited about that. I think our players are excited about trapping, moving around and taking some risks."