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March 8, 2012

Sharane Campbell

Sherri Coale

Whitney Hand


Oklahoma 70
Missouri 59

THE MODERATOR:  We're now joined by the Oklahoma Sooners, Sherri Coale and her student‑athletes.  Reminder to, when you ask questions of the student‑athletes, please address them by name so that our people taking the quotes on the telephone will know who's answering the question.
Coach, congratulations.  Your comments on tonight's game.
COACH COALE:  Thank you.  As I said all year, Missouri is not an easy team to play against.  They may have finished at the bottom of the league, but they're a lot better than their record.  It shows that they are, and we knew we were in for a fight.
They were so hot.  Continued that hot shooting touch in the first half tonight.  Credit our guys' commitment to covering three‑point shooters in the zone.  Made them use a lot of clock in the second half.
You know, Missouri just fought.  They just fought, and I thought they ran out of gas a little bit.  It was pretty obvious that they played a tough game yesterday.  They just ran out of gas down the stretch.  Robin's done a fantastic job with that team.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for our student‑athletes first, and then we'll go to Coach.  First question, please.

Q.  There's a theory out there a lot of times freshmen hit a wall at some point in their season longer than high school and stuff.  Do you think you went through this and this was a little more the person you were a few weeks ago?
SHARANE CAMPBELL:  Most definitely.  I don't want to say that I just lost myself, but I didn't.  It was more of a getting my confidence back, I would say.  It's hard to explain.

Q.  Whitney, what was the halftime speech like?  After you guys struggled?
WHITNEY HAND:  You know, I was just being really timid.  I kind of got challenged at halftime that a freshman was kicking my butt.  That's kind of hard to swallow for all I've been through.
For me personally, it was just let's go.  Goodness.  But our team really, really weren't‑‑ I didn't think we were playing that bad.  We just needed to get out quicker to shooters and knock down some shots.
We got lost in the second half just in playing and not worrying about losing, not being tight.  I think that really opened us all up and allowed us to play with a little bit more energy.

Q.  Sharane, it looked to me like Sherri had some words for you before she put you in to start the second half.  It was pretty early in the half when you guys were still a little bit back on your heels.  Was the message we've got to get you to get something going?  It looked like it might have been the case.  What do you remember about that?
SHARANE CAMPBELL:  To be honest, I don't remember at all.
COACH COALE:  Obviously, it was incredibly impactful.

Q.  That goes without saying.
THE MODERATOR:  Got a question.

Q.  Whitney, did it just feel like they were just playing loose because they had nothing to lose and this could be their last game or they were playing to keep their season going?  You know what I'm saying.  Did it look like they were just having fun out there that first half?
WHITNEY HAND:  Yeah, it definitely did.  If you watched their game yesterday, they were hitting on all cylinders.  They were pulling it when I was not expecting it.  They are playing really well.
It kind of put us on our heels the first half.  I felt they were controlling the speed of the game.  They were directing and we were responding.  I felt it changed in the second half that they were attacking, and they were turning on their heels and having to respond back to us.
THE MODERATOR:  Ladies, you did such a good job.  You don't have many questions.  Thank you very much.  We'll see you guys tomorrow.  We'll take questions for Coach now.

Q.  Sherri, as freshmen sometimes do, the season gets so long compared to what they went through in high school.  Do you think she went through a little bit of that and now is finding her second wind, so to speak?
COACH COALE:  Probably a little bit.  I think the other thing that happens is, when you're a freshman, people don't know you and don't know your tendencies, and you get to shock them a little bit.  Then you get in the middle of Big 12 conference and you play them once, and the second time they play you, they take away your strengths.
We play in a fantastic league.  Coaches do a great job of scouting.  They never had to have a counter.  Her go‑to was always good enough.  That's the case for a lot of freshmen.  She had to figure out how to counter, how she was being defended both with the ball and without the ball.
I think she's responded very well.  It's funny.  You watch kids, and you think sometimes these postseason awards don't mean very much, but you tell a kid you're the sixth man of the year in the Big 12 conference, and suddenly they go, oh, here we go.  It's kind of a countenance thing.
Sharane is often her own worst enemy.  She's very hard on herself, very much a perfectionist.  I think the validation helped her see that she's done a lot of really, really good things.  Her ceiling is really high.

Q.  How do you feel like your bigs matched up against their bigs, especially Christine Flores?
COACH COALE:  We have had a problem guarding Flores for four years.  She's been a conundrum for us because she can step out and shoot it, and she's so crafty inside.  She draws a lot of fouls.  Always shoots a ton of free throws against us.
And I didn't think we were very good at all the first half.  As a matter of fact, we were a black hole at the post spot in the first half.  But I thought KK really got us going in the second.  We were able to attack a little bit and get them on their heels.  Probably for the duration of the game, I would say their post guys won the battle.

Q.  Sherri, looking at stats and talking about your post players, obviously, a big difference in the number of free throws that were taken‑‑ and I know there will be people that will talk about officiating.  I think mostly, more than anything, that's just kind of a style difference.  Talk a bit about what you guys were doing as far as attacking the basket, getting to the line, and maybe what you were doing defensively that was keeping Missouri from doing the same.
COACH COALE:  Well, I think Missouri was wanting to ride the three‑point wave, and I don't blame them because they were going in.  When you take a lot of threes‑‑ this happened to us repeatedly.  When you take a lot of threes, you don't get to the free‑throw line as often as those guys who were throwing it to the block.  We felt like we were needing to attack.  We weren't shooting it very well in the first half at all, really from anywhere, inside or outside.
We felt our best opportunity to get points on the board early was to go inside, had some success with that.

Q.  I'll take a shot.  Do you remember what you said to Sharane?
COACH COALE:  Just challenged her about impacting the game.  I always tell her, you can change the flavor of the game.  You get to sit and watch for a little bit.  I think the mismatch was a problem for them.  She was guarding a post guy and trying to get around in front and made them work really, really hard to catch the ball, which I think took its toll after a while.
And I told her to put the ball on the floor.  We didn't feel like anybody could stay in front of her.  You just, when you say those kinds of things to Sharane, it's kind of like dollar signs roll through her eyes.  She just gets really excited.  I felt like she was focused and ready to impact, and she did.

Q.  What did you have to do to kind of calm Williams down after the way her game kind of started?
COACH COALE:  You know, KK is an interesting freshman.  She has, again, such a high ceiling.  I think both of those kids really have a chance to be great players.  KK has no earthly idea how good she can be, absolutely no earthly idea.  She tends to alibi.
I simply told her, I have no problem with you shooting.  I have a problem with you hoping.  And every shot you took in the first half was a hope.  If you want to shoot, then go shoot.  If you don't, then sit down, and I got plenty of other people that can play.  KK is the kind of kid that says, okay, and goes and makes shots.

Q.  You said all year long this is a young team which describes the roller coaster.  But when your two freshmen tonight account for half your scoring, is this part of the ceiling you talk about and what you hope to be here going forward tomorrow and in the NCAA Tournament if those two really step up?
COACH COALE:  Yeah, I think that's what we have to have.  You look at our team, and you have to be really careful how you look at that.  The reason those guys can do that‑‑ and I don't want to take anything away from what they did.  But people are not going to leave Whitney Hand.  People are going to put their best player on her and chase her all over the floor.  I would do the same thing.
People are not going to leave Aaryn Ellenberg.  They're going to follow her all over the floor.  Other guys are going to get lots of opportunity with one‑on‑one coverage with maybe not the second or third best defender on the team but maybe the fourth or fifth, and you have to take advantage of that.
Those guys getting all those minutes through the middle of Big 12 play has really put them in the position to be able to contribute the way they did today.

Q.  I was going to ask you about a sequence right at the end of the first half.  They missed a three at the end of their shot clock and the rebound was loose in the corner, and it looked like they were the only ones that pursued it.  And they got a time‑out called after that, and you were, to say the least, upset.  Right after that, I think Whitney won a 50‑50 ball near midcourt on the steal and took it the other way, and you guys score.  It looked from that point on the aggression really changed.  I'm not sure if you remember the sequence.
COACH COALE:  Oh, I remember the sequence clearly.  I think I went to the huddle and said, would you guys please go get loose balls.  I think that's pretty much how it went.
Whitney Hand, I'm telling you right now, she is worth her weight in gold.  I don't care what a stat line says.  I don't care what any percentages look like.  None of that matters to me.  From that point forward, Whitney Hand got every loose ball.  And it wasn't even her that didn't chase it in the corner.  She got every loose ball.  She got every long rebound.  She made just about every shot she took from that point forward.  She just carried herself like, you know what, I will show you.
We said all year it's Whitt and the kids.  She just said, come on, get on my back; I will show you.  It's funny how that‑‑ not funny ha ha, but funny odd‑‑ how that happens that everybody is kind of going along, and they're trying.  They're great kids.  They're trying, but they just don't realize they're not doing what they're capable of doing.
I remember clearly last‑‑ yeah, when Amanda Thompson was here, and we were at Kansas State, and we were just mucking around, and we couldn't get anything going.  We were down 14, I think.  All of a sudden, she comes in and makes this just heroic warrior‑like rebound, and everybody kind of looked at her and said, oh, okay.  And then we began to play, and we take the lead, and we win.
I thought that happened tonight with Whitt.  She ran and got a long loose ball and came up with it and was nice and tight, and everybody looked at her and said, okay, I can do that too.  That's what it looks like.  From there on out, it was joy and abandon and all those things that our team is known for.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you very much for your comments.  We'll see you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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