It’s one thing to chase a championship. It’s another thing , entirely, to do so with your teammate’s heart in your hands. We pursue excellence not only with one another but for one another. It is the ‘why behind the what’ that fuels our journey creating a connection that lasts far beyond the confines of a season. Ours is a collection of individuals who are bound for the outer edges of things. People who refuse to settle—on the court, in the classroom, in our community… in their lives.
A team of uncommon people wound in an uncommon way.
2015-16 Oklahoma Women's Basketball mini plans are available now. Pick any six games, $30 for general admission in the upper concourse, or $50 for reserved seats in the lower bowl.
* Excluding Texas Tech
Sometimes, song lyrics may hit the nail on the head, capturing perfectly the bond between two people. In this case, it is the story of the uncommon bond between a college basketball coach and a pre-teen girl. A bond that not even death can break.
“Oh my heart is tangled all around you.
When you've got trouble I've got trouble, too.
Oh my life is arm in arm with you.
When you've got trouble I've got trouble, too.”
“One of the things that makes our program unique is not just the number of relationships that we have with both current and past players, but the depths of those relationships. I think our guys do an extraordinary job of winding themselves around one another while they’re participating here, and so those relationships continue long after their eligibility is over and they’ve graduated from the university. They really become a part of one another’s lives, and the coaching staff is a part of those players’ lives as well."
- Head Coach Sherri Coale
Coach Coale and the Fast Break Club hold an annual golf tournament at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Course to help raise money for the women's basketball program.
You don't do something until you get it right. You do it until you can't get it wrong. Coach Coale and her Sooners are back in the gym preparing for the upcoming season.
“You can’t choose what attributes and skillsets you’re born with, but you can always work hard, and if you’re willing to do that good things will happen. I think uncommon effort is being willing to put it all on the line every day, whether that’s in the classroom or in the community or on the court."
- former Sooner Lauren Shoush
The Oklahoma Sooners are committed to helping the community that supports them. Playing for the University of Oklahoma means being in the headlines, but it also gives Sooner student-athletes an opportunity to give back to Norman and the surrounding communities. Sherri Coale and the women's basketball team capitalize on this opportunity with the same passion OU fans bring to the local arena or stadium. No team in the OU Athletics Department has made more of a commitment to volunteer service that the women's basketball team. In fact, Coach Coale's squad is arguable as active as any team in the nation. This year was no different as evident in the squad winning the CHAMPS/Life Skills Team Competition.
"It’s never just about what you do. Players have to work on weaknesses, and they have to build on strengths, but just doing the right drills and hitting the right reps is not enough. What separates the extraordinary from the rest of the pack is how they do what they do. They have an uncommon focus when they work. It’s about where their attention is placed, it’s about where their awareness lies...what those bound for greatness see and feel separates them from everybody else."
Head Coach Sherri Coale
The Sooners belief year-in-and-year-out is that they too can stand on the highest stage; be in the classroom, on the court or in the community. In 2014-15, despite only holding three upperclassmen on a squad of 15, Oklahoma battled through a challenging non-conference slate to achieve many different successes. Their belief in their teammates and coaches had them...
Oklahoma entered into the 2014-15 season picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 Conference in the preseason poll. The Sooners were looking to replace three starters who averaged nearly 50 percent of their scoring in 2013-14, including Aaryn Ellenberg, the second leading scorer in OU history and the 10th leading 3-pointer shooter in NCAA history. OU opened Big 12 play winning its first seven contests and ended the league season with a 13-5 mark and claimed second place. Oklahoma held a four-game lead over third place finishers Iowa State, TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas. The 13 league wins were four more than the Sooners finished with a season ago (9-9) and were the most wins since the Big 12 went to a 18-game round robin format in 2011-12.
En route to its 21-12 record in 2014-15, the Oklahoma women’s basketball team defeated four top-25 squads, including two teams then ranked in the top-5. The Sooners first victory over a top-5 team was a 70-59 victory over then-No. 4 Texas, Jan. 14 at the Lloyd Noble Center. The second top-5 victory was a 68-64 upset of then-No. 3/3 Baylor, Feb. 25 in Norman. The victory was OU’s first over the Lady Bears in 10 meetings and snapped Baylor’s 25-game winning streak. The win over the Longhorns was the first time OU had defeated a top-5 ranked team since 2008-09. The 2008-09 season was also the last time OU earned two top-5 victories.
This season marked Oklahoma’s 16th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 18th overall. The Sooners streak is the sixth longest active streak in NCAA Division I women’s basketball. Two program’s had their streaks end this season; Georgia’s streak of 20 straight years and Vanderbilt’s streak of 15 consecutive. Below is the current longest active streaks:
1. Tennessee – 34 years (1982-2015)
2. Stanford – 28 years (1998-2015)
3. Connecticut – 27 years (1989-2015)
4. Duke – 21 years (1995-2015)
5. Notre Dame – 20 years (1996-2015)
6. Oklahoma – 16 years (2000-2015)
Since the 2000 season, Oklahoma has reached the Final Four three times (2002, 2009, 2010), including participating in the 2002 National Championship game. The Sooners have also reached the Sweet Sixteen six times (2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013).
The Sooners are determined to achieve the ultimate goal and boy do they have the talent and depth to reach the National Championship in 2015-16. Oklahoma returns...
Oklahoma was the youngest team in the 2015 NCAA Tournament with 12 of its 15 players either a freshman, sophomore, redshirt sophomore or first year member with the team. OU held five freshman, four sophomores, two redshirt sophomores and a senior who was playing her first season after a stellar four-year tennis career.
Being so young means the Sooners return nearly all of their squad for the 2015-16 season. Oklahoma only graduates four-year starter Sharane Campbell-Olds and senior captain Whitney Ritchie. Campbell-Olds averaged 9.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 26.9 minutes per game in 2014-15, while Ritchie, who scored 12 points for OU, added leadership on and off the floor and an abundance of enthusiasm.
Oklahoma now returns 11 letterwinners, including four starters and adds a redshirt freshman and one incoming freshman for next season. The Sooners return 87 percent of their scoring – nearly 64 points per contest – and 85 percent of their rebounding – 32.1 boards a game. They also return eight players who averaged 10.0 minutes or more per contest.
The Sooners leading returning scorers are Peyton Little and Kaylon Williams. Little, a junior-to-be, averaged a team-best 12.6 points per game in 2014-15 and sank a team-leading 56 3-pointers. Williams, a senior-to-be, chipped in 12.2 points per contest and a team-best 6.6 boards per game.
One of the players returning in 2015-16 is the reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year Gabbi Ortiz. The point guard, who also was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman team, started every game at point guard for Oklahoma as a true freshman and helped the Sooners to their second-place finish in the Big 12. She contributed 8.2 points and 3.7 rebounds a game while ranking eighth in the Big 12 in assists (3.6) and assist-to-to turnover ratio (1.4) and 10th in 3-pointers made per game (1.5). In league contests, the rookie averaged 3.4 assists and had a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. She picked up two Big 12 Freshman of the Week honors. Ortiz was the sixth OU player to be named Freshman of the Year and the first since 2009 when Whitney Hand was tabbed.
Another returning player for Oklahoma in 2015-16 is Peyton Little, tabbed the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year this season. The guard started 31 of 33 games in her first year of play for the Sooners after transferring from Texas A&M. She led the squad and was ninth in scoring with 12.6 points and pulled down 3.2 rebounds a contest. In conference games, Little improved her scoring average to 15.1 points which ranked sixth. She led the Big 12 in free throw percentage (.860) and second in 3-pointers made per game (2.2). On the year, Little led the Sooners with 56 total 3-pointers made.
Copyright 2015 University of Oklahoma Intercollegiate Athletics
Compiled and written by Oklahoma Athletics Associate Director of Media Relations Liz Smith.