The Huskies and Sooners are in the midst of a four-year home-and-home series that continues this season in Connecticut. UConn has won the first two, 106-78 at Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 30, 2008, and 76-50 in Norman, Okla., on Feb. 15, 2010. Geno Auriemma and Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale have expressed interest in continuing the series after its scheduled conclusion in 2011-12.
Last season: The Sooners (27-11) advanced to the Final Four in San Antonio where they were defeated by Stanford in the semifinals. It was Oklahoma's second straight national semifinal loss.
The Sooners were defeated by Louisville in St. Louis in 2009. But just getting to the Final Four last season was a minor miracle for OU. It entered the season needing to replace four-time All-American Center Courtney Paris and her twin sister, Ashley. Then five games into the season the Sooners lost sharp-shooting guard Whitney Hand to a knee injury.
Who's Gone, Who's Back: The Sooners will miss three core seniors, Nyeshia Stevenson, Amanda Thompson and Abi Olajawon, the daughter of NBA Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajawon. Abi Olajawon is currently playing for the WNBA's Chicago Sky. But their returning players are excellent, particularly senior guard Danielle Robinson, a likely preseason All-American.
Robinson was a State Farm Coaches' All-American, an Associated Press third team selection and a finalist for the State Farm Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Nancy Lieberman Award. She was named to the Big 12's All-Defensive Team for third straight season, averaged 21 points in the Big 12 Championship and was named to the All-Big 12 championship team. She was also named to the Final Four All-Tournament team after scoring 23 points with six assists and career-high six rebounds in a national semifinal loss to Stanford. She won a gold medal with USA Basketball at the World University Games in Belgrade last July and was invited to practice with the USA Select Team this spring.
Hand, a sophomore, is one of the nation's top three-point shooters. The Sooners also welcome back senior Carlee Roethlisberger, sister of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.The recruiting class includes posts Jacqueline Jeffcoat (6-3) and Nicole Griffin (6-6) and guards Aaryn Ellenberg, Morgan Hook and Alexann Yancey.
What's at stake: The Big 12 may now be the most competitive conference in the nation. Baylor, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Texas and Iowa State are all premier programs. So Oklahoma will have to continue to work hard to keep its national footing intact.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun