Top-25 Throwdown

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 14, 2013
 Preseason WNIT: No. 25 Gonzaga at No. 11 Oklahoma | Thursday, Nov. 14 | 7 p.m. CT
 Live Webcast  Sooner Sports TV
 FS Southwest Plus/FCS Central
 Bob Carpenter & Billy Tubbs
 Radio  KOKC 1520 AM/KREF 1400 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. -- For the Preseason WNIT Quarterfinal, a team that finds its strength in its transition speed and perimeter shooting takes the court at the Lloyd Noble Center.

And the Sooners must find a way to defend them.

No. 11 Oklahoma hosts No. 25 Gonzaga Thursday at 7 p.m. in a battle of teams with like identities on the court.

“Transition offense, shoot the 3, a real high IQ -- those are their strengths,” OU head coach Sherri Coale said. “They’re similar in that they understand what their emphasis is and they play to their strengths.”

Gonzaga won the West Coast Conference last season and lost just one senior. The Bulldogs lost in the NCAA First Round last season, but have been a rising star in women’s college basketball, appearing in three straight Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight in the three previous seasons with Courtney Vandersloot running the point.

“She just created so many problems because of her ability with the ball in hand to create so many shots for herself and others,” Coale said. “And they don’t really have anybody like that because who does? They’re quintessential Gonzaga, though. They’re smart, tough, play hard, play together. All that stuff that’s hard to defend.”

With guard play at a premium on both ends of the court, the X-factor may be post defense.

Oklahoma’s bigs understand the importance of their job in transition, especially with coordination of the defense.

“Communication is big for a post,” OU redshirt-sophomore Kaylon Williams. “Running back and getting that full-check out, letting them know they have a shooter on the left or the right so they can anticipate a close out and take that shooter away. In the process, you’re telling them which side they have coming.”

Gonzaga will be the first team Oklahoma has played this season that can match their height advantage. The Zags have four players standing 6-foot-3 or taller, including two 6-5 players in the frontcourt. Finding position first will be imperative.

“If you’re the first post down,” OU senior Nicole Griffin said, “you’re ahead of the player you’re guarding and have time to bump that guard out to their matchup, and then guard the other post.”

The matchup will be OU’s most challenging of the year so far, but with a potential Preseason WNIT title match against either No. 5 Louisville or No. 14 LSU, a road-trip to UCLA and a home stand against No. 2 Duke all coming in the next 30 days, the Sooners can announce their place among the teams to watch.

 Projected Starting Lineups
10  Morgan Hook
5-10 | SR | Lowell, Ark.
      34 Jazmine Redmon
5-9 | SR | Spokane, Wash.
 11.0 3.5 8.5   3.5 2.0 5.5 
3  Aaryn Ellenberg
5-7 | SR | Las Vegas, Nev.
       3 Haiden Palmer 
5-8 | SR| Moreno County, Calif.
19.0   3.5 0.5    18.0 6.0 1.5
 24 Sharane Campbell 
5-10 | JR | Spencer, Okla.
Keani Albanez
5-10 | JR | Santa Barbara, Calif.
17.0  6.0  0.0     13.5 5.0 0.0 
1 Nicole Kornet 
6-1 | SO | Lantana, Texas
      33 Lindsay Sherbert
6-0 | JR | Temecula, Calif.
4.0  5.5   0.5   7.0 7.0 1.0
4  Nicole Griffin 
6-6 | SR | Milwaukee, Wis.
       44 Shelby Cheslek
6-5 | SO| Pullman, Wash.
9.0  8.0  0.0    3.5 3.5  1.0

• 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  Oklahoma        Louisville Loyola Chicago
Wichita State  Wichita State        Quinnipac Quinnipac
IPFW  Second Round  Semifinal  Championship  Semifinal  Second Round North Carolina A&T
Tennessee-Martin    Oklahoma vs. Gonzaga  Sunday, Nov. 17 Louisville vs. LSU    St. Joseph's
Georgia State  UT Martin        St. Joseph's Mount St. Mary's
Gonzaga   Gonzaga        LSU LSU
Idaho           Stephen F. Austin



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