Women's College Basketball: Oklahoma Vs. Louisville Final Four Preview
Sunday's match-up stars two All-Americans who are both leading their teams into uncharted waters.
Oklahoma is led by Courtney Paris, the first woman to ever be named an All-American all four years of her college career. She is the nucleus of the Sooner team. Their offense runs through her on almost every possession. However, compared to past Courtney Paris teams, they don't fall apart when the more well-known Paris is on the bench.
She is surrounded by a strong core of players who are, for the first time, able to pick up the slack when the star is in foul trouble, especially with Ashley Paris playing at a high level. With guards Whitney Hand and Danielle Robinson, opponents have to pick their poison. Do they limit the Sisters Paris and leave the guards open? Or do they coat the perimeter and let the Courtney run wild in the paint?
Louisville is lead by Angel McCoughtry, who led the Big East in points, rebounds, and steals for the past three seasons. As with Oklahoma, Louisville lives and dies by McCoughtry. After McCoughtry, Louisville's next leading scorer averages 12.5 PTs, an 11 PT dropoff.
The Cardinals should match up well against Oklahoma in Sunday's Final Four game, in that their power is in the paint and their guards, seemingly, don't make or break them. Does Oklahoma double-team Angel McCoughtry and let Louisville's other forwards go crazy? Or do they try to make Louisville's guards step up and win the game?
These teams are equally matched in the paint. Both teams are defensively minded and the team with the most rebounds could be the one that comes out on top. Can Ashley Paris or an injured Amanda Thompson limit McCoughtry? Can Keshia Hines stop Courtney Paris? This matchup is incredibly intriguing.
Oklahoma has a decided advantage in these positions. PG Danielle Robinson is one of the quickest PGs in women's college basketball right now, and will Deseree' Byrd be able to stop her? It is something Purdue PG Fahkara Malone was unable to do in the Elite Eight. With Whitney Hand back to playing in her "pre-injury" form, can Becky Burke slow her down?
Oklahoma has the only coach, in this matchup, with Final Four experience. Sherri Coale led the Sooners to the National Championship in 2002, where they lost to an undefeated UConn. Louisville coach Jeff Walz is in his second season, but is one of the most promising young coaches in women's basketball right now. Advantage to Oklahoma only because of Coach Coale's 2002 run.
Oklahoma by eight.
This game will be won and lost by Oklahoma's guard play. If Hand and Robinson can play like they have the past two games, the Sooners win this game. Louisville will guard the paint and deny Oklahoma's post players open looks for the majority of the game. Whomever wins the low-post melee will earn the right to face the winner of the UConn/Stanford game in the National Championship.
Stats from from www.uoflsports.com and www.soonersports.com
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