Hoops Season is Here
FRIDAY'S GAME BASICS
The Sooners play the first of two exhibition games as they host Central Oklahoma on Friday at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center. Oklahoma is 29-0 in exhibition contests since 2000.
OU is beginning its 22nd season under head coach Sherri Coale and finished 23-10 last year. The Sooners return three starters from last year’s squad that earned the program’s 18th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Central Oklahoma is coming off a 25-8 season under head coach Guy Hardaker.
ON THE AIR
Friday's game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma with Chad McKee, Brenda VanLengen and Megan McDonald announcing. The contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network with Brian Brinkley and McKenna Treece calling the action.
Tickets are available for $5 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. OU students will be admitted free with a valid school I.D.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
• No. 22/21 Oklahoma plays the first of two exhibitions on Friday as it hosts Division-II member Central Oklahoma. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. CT from Lloyd Noble Center. The contest will air on SoonerSports.tv with Chad McKee, Brenda VanLengen and Megan McDonald calling the action.
• The Sooners completed the 2016-17 season with a 23-10 overall record (13-5 Big 12; third place) and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament (No. 6 seed) for the 18th consecutive year. The Sooners return three starters from last year's squad: graduate student guard Maddie Manning (12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg); senior guard Gabbi Ortiz (8.9 ppg, 3.7 apg) and senior center Vionise Pierre-Louis (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg).
• Along with three starters back from last year’s team, the Sooners welcome three newcomers to their roster: Ana Llanusa, Shaina Pellington and Mandy Simpson. Llanusa was Oklahoma's 2017 Gatorade High School Player of the Year, while Pellington guided Canada to a bronze medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup. Simpson, the first women's basketball player to sign from the state of Idaho, was a three-time all-state selection at Boise High School.
• Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale begins her 22nd year at the helm of the OU program. Coale has a 465-227 (.672) record at OU and has led the Sooners to three Final Four appearances, four Big 12 Tournament titles and six Big 12 regular season championships.
• The Sooners enter the season ranked in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Poll. The Sooners check in at No. 21 in the USA Today Preseason Poll. OU is No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll. The Sooners have been ranked in the AP Poll for 39 consecutive weeks (tied for the 10th-longest active streak in the country).
MOST EXPERIENCED TRIO IN THE BIG 12
• OU's Maddie Manning, Gabbi Ortiz and Vionise Pierre-Louis enter the 2017-18 season as the most experienced trio in the Big 12 Conference.
• Manning, Ortiz and Pierre-Louis have combined to play in 295 games and score 2,448 points. Manning and Ortiz have played in 99 career games, while Pierre-Louis has made 97 career appearances.
• All three are on the verge of crossing the 1,000-point plateau for their OU careers. Manning has scored 837 career points, followed by 824 by Pierre-Louis. Ortiz has registered 787 career points during her first three seasons at OU.
Senior center Vionise Pierre-Louis was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team.
• OU’s signing class of Ana Llanusa, Shaina Pellington and Mandy Simpson looks to make a major impact on OU’s lineup during the 2017-18 season. The trio was ranked as a top-15 signing class by ProspectNation.com.
• The top-ranked player in Oklahoma, Llanusa was rated as the No. 3 guard/No. 20 overall by Prospect Nation and the No. 8 guard/No. 32 overall by ESPN HoopGurlz in the 2018 signing class. The Choctaw, Okla., native finished her career as the all-time leading scorer in Oklahoma state tournament history after leading Choctaw High School to the 2017 state championship. Llanusa, who earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors, finished her career with 2,249 points.
• Pellington brings a wealth of international basketball experience to OU’s roster after guiding Canada to a bronze medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup over the summer. A 5-7 guard with explosive speed, Pellington was ranked the No. 5 international prospect by Prospect Nation in 2017. The Dunbarton, Ontario, native started six games at the FIBA U19 World Cup, averaging 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest.
• The first player from the state of Idaho to sign with the Sooners, Simpson quickly caught the eye of OU’s staff as a fearless rebounder. At Boise High School, Simpson was a two-time first-team all-state selection and recorded a double-double with 16.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest.
PREVIEWING CENTRAL OKLAHOMA
• Central Oklahoma finished the 2016-17 season with a 25-8 record and 13-6 mark in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play. The Bronchos are led by head coach Guy Hardaker, who is in his 12th season. The Bronchos participated in the 2017 NCAA Divsion II Tournament, falling in the first round.
• The Bronchos were picked fourth in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association preseason poll. Senior guard Melinda Murillo, a first team All-MIAA selection a year ago, returns after averaging 14.4 points a game last year.
• The Sooners will play their final exhibition on Tuesday, Nov. 7 as they host Southwestern Oklahoma State. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest +. OU defeated Southwestern Oklahoma State, 111-73, in an exhibition matchup on Nov. 4, 2015.
• OU opens the regular season on Friday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. CT against Belmont at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners have won 18 out of their last 19 home openers at Lloyd Noble Center dating back to the 1999-00 season. OU is 33-7 all-time in home openers.
• When the Sooners face Belmont on Nov. 10, OU will also honor the jersey of Courtney Paris during a ceremony at halftime. Paris, the first four-time AP All-American in women's basketball history, led OU to three Big 12 regular season titles, two Big 12 Tournament titles and to the 2009 Final Four. She finished her career as the program's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, while setting the NCAA record with 112 consecutive games with a double-double.