OKLAHOMA CITY — What was happening inside made overcoming what was happening on the outside possible.
Coale is very clear – this team is special.
“We go great for a while, then all of a sudden a really tall mountain, we can’t get over it; we find ourselves in a swamp, in the middle of quicksand,” she said. “It the midst of all that, these guys continued to respect one another and care for one another. There’s just an absence of pretense that grows from that. When people are real with one another, that allows you to continue in the face of difficult circumstances.”
The Sooners learned to relish the opportunity still in front of them.
“I remember being in the film room after Whitney went down. I can’t remember now (what coach said), I lost it, but something like, ‘How great of a story is it going to be? We’ve been through all this adversity. How great of a story is it going to be when we do something special.’”
Really, the Sooners are already there. They passed special and went straight to fabulous when their best 40 minutes of the season gave UCLA nowhere to go six days ago inside St. John Arena.
Now it becomes a question of sustaining whatever it is they’ve built for one, two, three or four more games, all the while hoping it’s enough should they sustain it.
Tennessee, with all of its history, has every reason to look itself in the mirror and believe there’s no way it won’t be facing Baylor (or, miracle of miracles, Louisville) Monday night back inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Lady Vols say they’re too smart for that. Saturday, during a pregame press conference, they referred to OU as “a great team.”
The Sooners have earned many raves, but “greatness” had not yet been thrust upon them.
“Collectively, we haven’t watched a ton of film on them from the entire season,” Tennessee forward Taber Spani said, “But what they’re doing right now, that’s what’s making them great.”