NORMAN — The Oklahoma women are playing very well right now. The winners of four straight games, they’ve opened the conference season with a pair of wins over quality programs, West Virginia and Texas.
Further, it has all happened after senior guard, captain and the longtime pulse of the team, Whitney Hand, became the fourth Sooner and third starter to be lost for the season to injury.
Tonight, in Forth Worth, 16th-ranked OU (12-2, 2-0 Big 12) will try to make it five straight victories when it visits TCU (7-6, 0-2) inside Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Sophomore guard Sharane Campbell can’t take a lot of credit for the first of those four wins, a 70-46 victory over Cal-Riverside, but she’s clearly been in the middle of the last three and perhaps the leader of the last two.
“I have more confidence now, I guess,” Campbell said. “I guess each game I’m just getting a little better.”
Prior to meeting Cal-State Northridge, Campbell was averaging 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds. She was also getting to the free-throw line for an average 3.3 attempts per game. Since, over her last three games, Campbell has averaged 17 points, 6.7 rebounds and 8.3 free-throw attempts. Also, after missing her first 13 3-point attempts of the season, Campbell has made 6 of 11 from long range.
Two games ago, Campbell scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against West Virginia. Last time out, she got Texas for 24 points.
“I think it’s extra attention to details,” junior guard and Sooner leading scorer Aaryn Ellenberg said. “She’s been in the gym before practice and after working on left-hand drives or things she’s not as good at. So little things like that are making a difference.”
Campbell confirms she’s getting to practice early and staying late to work on developing her left hand and that it came in very handy against Texas.
Still, equally or more important than improving a singular part of her game may be the attitude behind putting in the extra work. That attitude has led to better practices and better full-court play.
“I think she’s realized that she can’t have those days in practice anymore where we have to pull her in to get her to give energy and stuff,” point guard Morgan Hook said.
It is part of the Sooners’ all-hands-on-deck approach. Senior forward Joanna McFarland is another player who has raised her game. Now, Campbell’s doing it, too.
“Now, I don’t have any choice,” she said. “I have to do this work.”
That kind of attitude hasn’t only helped her on the offensive end of the floor.
If she’s not playing defense, Sooner coach Sherri Coale wouldn’t be in a position to keep her on the floor, but Campbell has logged 31, 30 and 38 minutes her last three games after playing less than 30 in the previous 11 (and 20 or less in eight of the previous 11).
It has all worked out well for Campbell and her team.
“When she’s playing like that, we have scorers at every position and it’s OK for anybody to have the ball in their hands,” Hook said. “It gives all of us more confidence knowing anybody could be a threat.”
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org