Depth is the Sooners' Strength

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 08, 2013
 Preseason WNIT Round One: Stetson at No. 11 Oklahoma | Friday, Nov. 8 | 7 p.m. CT
 Live Webcast
 Chad McKee & Lyndsey Cloman
 Radio  KOKC 1520 AM
 Brian Brinkley & Colton Coale
 Postgame Media | Replay
 Buy Tickets  OU Athletics Ticket Office | 1-800-456-4668
 Live Stats
 Pregame Info  Game Notes (PDF)

NORMAN, Okla. -- When OU point guards Morgan Hook and Maddie Manning suffered injuries in the Sooners’ preseason scrimmage, Sherri Coale didn’t have to look too far down the bench to find a suitable replacement.

Spencer, Okla., native and Northeast Academy alum T’ona Edwards was ready to take the reins of a team with Final Four expectations and guide the path as long as needed. Edwards was extraordinary in the team’s exhibition opener, dishing 12 assists to go with eight points and seven rebounds.

Coale called it: “probably had the best opening out of a freshman we’ve ever had.”

And the off-the-cuff remarks held up in the film room and through the next few days of practice.

“She was really good,” Coale said. “She made good decisions in transition, she played aggressive defense, she organized her team -- she did a lot of really good things.”

Edwards was certainly no stranger to impressive performances. The 5-foot-5 guard averaged 16.7 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals to lead the Northeast to a 30-0 record and a state championship in her senior year. But this was unexpected.

“It was a weird feeling,” Edwards said, “because I was a late signing. I would never imagine coming in here and starting my first game. Coach was very pleased about me starting. She kept a lot of confidence in my heart coming in, and that’s basically all I needed to push over the hump and perform like I did. It was a shock, but now that it’s over, the focus is doing what I can do to help in the next game.”

The next game comes Friday at 7 p.m. as the Sooners begin their season hosting a Preseason WNIT game against Stetson, a team the Oklahoma veterans viewed up close at their NCAA First and Second Round visit to Columbus, Ohio, last season. However, the Sooners’ success in 2013-14 relies upon their depth, mostly completed by five freshmen.

“The rest of the freshmen, we all had our nervous breakdowns,” Edwards said. “We came in during the summer and got all those bugs out. We actually started to know what our roles our and began contributing. We’ve relaxed now and are just ready to go out and perform.

“Last year’s team was so strong because players would go down and they would just keep playing. They got all the way to the Sweet 16. I think we can do that and much more this year because of our depth and great athletes that came in. We can have a good run this year."

 Projected Starting Lineups
10  Morgan Hook
5-10 | SR | Lowell, Ark.
      22 Jama Sharp
5-7 | JR | Mooresville, Ind.
 9.9 3.3 5.3   8.6 4.0 2.6 
3  Aaryn Ellenberg
5-7 | SR| Las Vegas, Nev.
       10 Brianti Saunders 
5-4 | FR | Hilliard, Fla.
18.7   3.3 2.0     -
 24 Sharane Campbell 
5-10 | JR | Spencer, Okla.
       1 C.J. Coddington
5-10 | JR | Davie, Fla.
10.0  4.3  1.2     3.2 1.3 1.0 
1 Nicole Kornet 
6-1 | SO | Lantana, Texas
      3 Cherisse Burris
5-10 | JR | Blue Springs, Mo.
4.3  2.4   0.5   8.6 4.4 0.8
4  Nicole Griffin 
6-6 | SR | Milwaukee, Wis.
       24 Sasha Sims
6-0 | SR | Fayetteville, Ga.
11.3  4.9  0.9    12.0 4.1  0.9

• Oklahoma was voted the Big 12’s preseason favorite, earning five of 10 first-place votes by coaches. Aaryn Ellenberg was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team and is on watch lists for the Wade, Wooden and Naismith Awards.
• True freshmen T’ona Edwards and Gioya Carter shared point guard duties for OU’s exhibition opener after injuries during the team’s intrasquad scrimmage (Oct. 25) knocked the top two on the depth chart. Senior Morgan Hook suffered a dislocated thumb (right hand) and missed the Nov. 2 game. Redshirt freshman Maddie Manning’s season ended a second-consecutive year with a torn ACL (left knee).
• The Sooners advanced to their 10th NCAA Regional Semifinal game, and sixth in the last eight seasons, with a 78-73 first-round win over Central Michigan and 85-72 second-round win over UCLA. OU competed in its 16th NCAA Tournament, and 14th consecutive, the nation’s seventh longest active streak and 13th longest in history. Oklahoma was a No. 6 seed for the third consecutive year.
• OU suffered season-ending injuries to four players, including three starters before conference play began in 2012-13. OU added two volleyball players to its roster at mid-semester. Still the Sooners advanced to their 10th Sweet 16 Appearance in program history, the ninth under Sherri Coale.
• Aaryn Ellenberg set OU’s single-season record for 3-pointers made with 115 as a junior. Ellenberg made two 3-pointers against West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament to match and then pass Erin Higgins (2003-07) for Oklahoma’s career record, now 284. Now a senior, Ellenberg is chasing the NCAA record of 392 set by Kansas State’s Laurie Koehn.
• In 2012-13, the Sooners were 19-0 when leading at halftime; 4-12 when tied or trailing; 23-1 when their field goal percentage is higher than their opponent’s; and 20-1 when holding their opponent to 40 percent or lower field goal shooting.

Friday's games begin the opening round of the 2013 Preseason WNIT.

Oklahoma is one of 10 teams in the 16-team field that competed in the NCAA Tournament last season. The field also includes Georgia State, Gonzaga, Idaho, IPFW, Louisville, Loyola Chicago, LSU, Mount St. Mary’s, North Carolina A&T, Quinnipiac, Saint Joseph’s, Stephen F. Austin, Stetson, Tennessee-Martin, and Wichita State.

The Preseason WNIT features a three-game guarantee format. Second-round game will be played Nov. 10 and 11 and semifinals Nov. 14. The championship game, to be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network, will be Nov. 17. Teams that lose in the first two rounds will play consolation games on the second weekend, Nov. 15-16.

First Round      Preseason WNIT     First Round
Oklahoma           Louisville
Stetson           Loyola Chicago
Wichita State           Quinnipac
IPFW  Second Round  Semifinal  Championship  Semifinal  Second Round North Carolina A&T
Tennessee-Martin  Sunday, Nov. 10  Thursday, Nov. 14  Sunday, Nov. 17  Thursday, Nov. 14  Sunday, Nov. 10 St. Joseph's
Georgia State           Mount St. Mary's
Gonzaga            LSU
Idaho           Stephen F. Austin



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