NCAA Tournament 2001 - Sooners will meet Oral Roberts in opener



Sooners will meet Oral Roberts in opener

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma women's basketball team won't have to do any packing for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament this year.

The Sooners were made the No. 2 seed in the West Region on Sunday and, as expected, will play host to the first- and second-round games later in the week.

The Sooners (26-5) will play Oral Roberts University (20-10) in their opening game. The other teams coming to Norman are seventh-seeded George Washington (22-9) and No. 10 seed Stanford (18-10).

The NCAA berth is Oklahoma's second straight under coach Sherri Coale, who is in her fifth season with the Sooners.

"We're not nearly as giddy (as last year), but excited nonetheless," she said. "I don't ever want to get to the point where we take it for granted you're in that tournament and you don't celebrate it."

The only question during last year's selection show was whether the Sooners would be made one of the top four seeds, and thus get to play the first two games at home. They wound up being the No. 5 seed in the Midwest and were shipped to West Lafayette, Ind., where they upset then-defending champion Purdue in the second round to reach the Sweet 16.

There was no doubt Oklahoma would be one of the top four seeds this year. They won the Big 12 title outright and won 17 straight games before losing to Iowa State in the conference tournament championship game Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo.

The Big 12 placed seven teams in the NCAA field, more than any other conference. Three of those teams were made No. 2 seeds.

"When you look at the bracket and see seven teams from the Big 12 Conference are in the big dance and three of them are No. 2 seeds, you see the significance of what we did against that schedule," Coale said.

Oklahoma is familiar with two of the three teams coming to Norman. The Sooners beat Oral Roberts 87-56 in the second game of the year, in Tulsa, and beat Stanford 102-98 in overtime on Dec. 27 in Norman.

"It's kind of funny we would potentially meet two teams we've already played," Coale said.

She said it's hard to overstate how nice it is to be playing at home. A year ago, the Sooners lost their first game of the Big 12 tournament, but Coale said that turned out to be a blessing because it allowed her team to rest before hitting the road in NCAA play.

This year, the Sooners made it to the conference tournament championship.

"We'd been in Kansas City for five days," Coale said. "If we had to turn around and pack our bags and fly out somewhere on Tuesday or Wednesday, we would be exhausted."

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They're No. 1: UConn, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Duke

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 Coach Sherri Coale talks with the ESPN crew after Oklahoma draws the No. 2 seed in the West.
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