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Sooners Meet With Media as Season Draws Closer

NORMAN — In the of middle preparation for the upcoming season, the Oklahoma women’s basketball team met with reporters during the program’s local media day Monday at Lloyd Noble Center.

Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale and her team previewed the upcoming season and discussed where the Sooners stand since beginning practice on Sept. 25.

The Sooners open their season on Monday, Nov. 5 with their first exhibition contest of the year against Northeastern State at 7 p.m. CT inside Lloyd Noble Center. OU kicks off the regular season at home on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. CT versus Western Kentucky.

Here’s more from OU’s local media day:


HEAD COACH SHERRI COALE

On how the team is developing its tempo:
“You have to be able to play as fast as you can play collectively. There’s a lot of learning that goes into that; learning one another, individuals learning about their own capabilities and how fast can they go, adjusting in transition. There’s a lot of individual things to figure out, but you also have to figure out one another. Tatum [Veitenheimer] and Jessi [Murcer] are getting used to Shaina’s [Pellington] speed, knowing where they can throw it where she can run underneath it and get a layup. That’s not something you just know, you just have to do that for a while and figure out what that’s like. Every day I see improvement in that area.”

On playing in the Big 12 with a smaller lineup:
“I think that what we can do is be better decision-makers, be faster decision-makers, to out-wit and out-stretch some of that length and size that we’ll see in the league.”

On integrating the freshmen into the team:
“I love coaching kids who want to learn, and these seven guys really want to learn. It has been so much fun being in the gym with them. They’re curious, they’re not afraid to be exposed and try something and fail miserably at it. They’re able to laugh at themselves a little bit then come back and fix it. It’s a process that really helps us grow. If you’re always safe and you’re afraid to make mistakes, then your opportunity for improvement is not very big. It begins with an innate curiosity, kids who want to know ‘How can I get better?’ They like taking that ownership and figuring things out, which is what basketball is. It’s a messy game where all kinds of things are happening constantly, and you have to figure things out.”

Sherri Coale

On OUs home non-conference matchup with UConn:
“We believe that at the University of Oklahoma, we’re going to have a team that can compete whatever year it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s six years from now— none of us know who’s going to be on our team in six years. We just believe that we can compete, and we want to put ourselves in situations constantly where have an opportunity to measure ourselves against the very best, and they are the cream of the crop, in every way.”

On Madi Williams’ progress so far:
“Madi’s a special player, she’s a special athlete, she’s strong. Physically, she’s as prepared for college basketball maybe as any freshman I’ve ever had. She is strong and solid and a good jumper, great runner, all those things.”


SOPHOMORE GUARD ANA LLANUSA

On her development on defense:
“I love offense, and I wanted to grow as a defensive player so I wouldn’t dread it as much, not dread getting on defense so much. I think I’ve grown a lot in it over the past season and going into the preseason, just working on staying in front of my defender and not relying on so much help this year.”

On whether Shaina Pellington’s style of play has helped that defensive growth:
“Yes. It also exposes your weaknesses a lot, but htat comes with growing. When I’m guarding Shaina or someone like Shaina, I know I have to get a bigger threshold, stay off her a lot more, and so yeah, she’s helped me a lot with that. Guarding her is a great experience to grow.”

On playing with so many freshmen:
“It’s a lot of fun. They ask a lot of questions. I still ask a lot of questions, I’m a sophomore, but it’s cool because I was a freshman not that long ago and I can be able to help them and relate to what they’re going through. They’re all going to shine this year in their own special ways.”


SENIOR FORWARD IJEOMA ODIMGBE

On being one of the leaders on the team this year:
“I think the transition has been [about] working hard to fill the shoes that came before me, because we know [Vionise Pierre-Louis] was a dominant post player, scored a lot, defensive stops, that kind of thing. So for me, it’s been about putting myself in a position where I can match her efforts, match her stats or maybe even exceed them just by working hard.”

On her offseason improvement:
“I’ve improved most with confidence, just catching and scoring. Maybe in years past I was more apt to catch it and look for somebody to kick it out to, but I think this year I’m just a lot more confident around the rim and wanting to score, getting looks to score.”

On the freshmen’s progress:
“I’m super excited about them. Just watching them grow from summer to offseason, I’ve never seen a group of girls grow and connect with each other in the way this group of girls has. It’s just exciting for me, I’m looking forward to seeing them connect in live play.”


SOPHOMORE FORWARD MANDY SIMPSON

On what she is looking forward to this season:
“Just getting after it with these girls. We have a really good group of girls this year. A lot of freshmen, so just teaching them the ropes and just having fun. I mean, this team really knows how to have fun on the court together, so just have fun.”

On how the offseason went:
“It was good. It was tough. It was definitely the toughest preseason I have ever had. A lot of conditioning because we’re going to play really fast this year, so getting used to that. It prepared us really well for these intrasquad scrimmages that we’re having and to play fast this year.”

On her goals for the season:
“I want to make sure I am a strong presence on the court as far as leadership goes, so just being able to lead the team in a positive direction and being big in the glass both on the offensive end and the defensive end.”


FRESHMAN FORWARD NYDIA LAMPKIN

On playing UConn:
Obviously, we want to come out with the W, but it’s going to be a great learning experience knowing that UConn’s one of the best teams in the country, so going into that we have to prepare mentally and also physically. It’s going to be a great experience.”

On being a freshman:
“It’s a little overwhelming and kind of scary, but unreal at the same time because this is college, you’re not in high school anymore, it’s a different level of ball, so I just try to take it in as slow as possible and grasp every concept, but I think I’ll be fine.”


FRESHMAN GUARD/FORWARD MADI WILLIAMS

On what she is looking forward to this season:
“For the season, I’m most looking forward to getting as many wins as we can with the group. I mean since we’re a young group we are all kind of feeling for the ropes right now, so it’s just a beautiful thing to get to do that with my other fellow freshmen and sophomores.”

On the offseason:
“It was tough. Coming out of high school is a big adjustment, but I think I adjusted pretty well. Other than the fact it was tough, it was good.”


SOPHOMORE GUARD SHAINA PELLINGTON

On what she is looking forward to this season:
“I’m always looking forward to the opportunity to play another season.. Different team, different atmosphere. Every team has gotten better. Every team is coming back stronger. The opportunity to compete is always something I look forward to.”

On the one thing she is most excited about:
“I always look forward to just seeing new teams and seeing how they developed over the summer. I feel like, for me, that’s something I look forward to and how I can strategize based on what they’ve improved on and how my game can work against that. It’s something I always have fun doing.”

On her personal goals for the year:
“I’m going to try to be an All-American. That’s just the first and foremost goal. I want to be an All-American. I want to have that accolade underneath my belt in my college career, so I’m really working towards that.”


FRESHMAN GUARD TATUM VEITENHEIMER

On what she is most looking forward to:
“Since it’s my first year, that’s always exciting. It’s a new atmosphere getting out there in college. But really, I’m probably most excited about playing with all of these girls. I feel like we have a very strong connection off of the floor, so it really feels like a sisterhood. Just getting out there and getting after it every night. It’s going to be fun.”

On personal goals:
“Well, Coach Coale and I set goals throughout the year. Not just her, also her son, other Coach [Colton] Coale. Just whatever we’re focusing on, reaching those as quickly as possible so that we can get to the next one because as I work on those individually, those are going to help me become a better player.


FRESHMAN GUARD JESSI MURCER

On what she has learned from the upperclassmen since arriving on campus:
“So many things. We spend a lot of time together. We really haven’t had to learn anything about chemistry because it’s all come naturally. Really the only thing has been on-court stuff. Spacing, learning a lot from Shaina (Pellington) and the point guard last year, knowing where people are going to be.”

On having any nerves:
“I don’t really get nervous like that, but it’s definitely a big opportunity so I’m excited to seize the moment and take it.”

On being close to home:
“My house is about 25 minutes north of here. It’s a really easy drive, and it’s cool because I get to see my sister all of the time. It’s nice to stay at home and represent the city I am from.”


FRESHMAN CENTER ASPEN WILLISTON

On the offseason:
“It went pretty well. It was definitely a lot of big changes compared to high school. It was really physical. We did a lot of conditioning to get ready for the season. We’re going to be a fast team.”

On personal goals for the season:
“To become a better rebounder and a better screener. That’s my personal goals honestly. And to stay healthy.”


FRESHMAN GUARD TAYLOR ROBERTSON

On how her play has transferred over from high school to practices at OU:

“It’s kind of carried over and been about as I expected. It was a little rough at the beginning because I wasn’t used to the pace. It’s a lot faster than it was in high school, but once I got a little more comfortable with that, then it got easier.”

On how excited she is to play in this offense:

“Very (excited). It’s going to be really fun and fast paced. We’re going to look to push the ball so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”


FRESHMAN FORWARD CLARY DONICA

On how her game has changed since she stepped on campus:

“I’ve definitely gotten faster and learned more of the ins and outs of the game. I’ve learned to read your defender and read the ball. You don’t really have to do that that much in high school but it’s important at this level because everybody is important at this level.”

On what she’s learned from the five retuners:

“They’re really encouraging and so humble. When they mess up, they’ll admit it. I think those are the biggest things are their humility and hard work. I think just learning how much hard work it takes and to just play your game I’ve seen from them.”

 

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