Sooners Advance...For Now

By Jeff Lippman - March 23, 2008

Illinois State gave a wonderful effort, but in the end, Oklahoma had too much firepower for the 13-seeded Redbirds to handle.

Point guard Kristi Cirone proved to be a stone-cold Goliath killer and showed the heart of a champion but it wasn't enough against the likes of Courtney Paris and the Big 12's Sooners. Oklahoma won 69-61 and advances to the second round.

But the underlying story in this game, to me, is Oklahoma's vulnerability. All season I've given them the benefit of the doubt. Surely, with a force like Paris, how could the Sooners go wrong?

And sure they lost some senior leadership from last year's team, but youngsters Danielle Robinson, Amanda Thompson and Jenna Plumley make up for a solid core. So it would seem.

But after a season in which they largely underachieved, picked by many to win the Big 12, they lost in both the regular season and the tournament, they are still underachieving. It's who they are. They are tragically flawed.

The team doesn't go well together. Plumley, Robinson and Thompson want to run. The Paris sisters don't really have "run" in their repertoire.

When the Paris girls are scoring, the rest of the team is standing around and watching, and if Thompson or Robinson try to slash into the lane, there the Paris sisters are clogging up the middle.

It's a vicious cycle of redundancy for the Oklahoma offense that teams are figuring out how to beat.

They got past Illinois State, sure. But next round they get the winner of SMU/Notre Dame. I think the Irish will pull that one out and if that happens, Oklahoma is in trouble. And even if they make the Sweet 16, how much further can they possibly go?

The answer is not much further. Sherri Coale's team isn't championship quality. They'll be back, but right now what's broken can't be fixed with the little time between now and their next game.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 02:08 PM on March 23, 2008

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