Oklahoma coach worries about “crazy athletic” Kentucky

Makayla Epps (Vicky Graff Photo)

Makayla Epps (Vicky Graff Photo)

2016 NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship
Second Round · Oklahoma vs. Kentucky
Memorial Coliseum · Lexington, Ky.
Sunday, March 20


Sherri Coale, Oklahoma Head Coach:

On the Virgin Islands game against Kentucky last year…
“The teams are pretty different actually even though we have so many of the same players returning. I think about first of all that is was sort of Gabbi’s (Ortiz) welcoming to big-time basketball. She was going against (Jennifer) O’Neill, a great player. We wondered how she would handle that full court press for an entire 40+ minutes. She was terrific actually. It was kind of her coming out party as a true freshman point guard.

“You know what I remember most about the game is late in the game everybody on our team had fouled out. I was going down and trying to figure out who can go in. I told my bench, if you can play, if it is legal for you to play in this game, I need you to move to the front. Because I would go to put somebody in and they would say, ‘I can’t. I fouled out.’ Our whole team was on the side in a foul situation. It was a fun game to be a part of right down to the final call at the end. It was heartbreaking and a tough way to lose one. I thought it was a great women’s basketball game. Too bad nobody got to see it because we were in the Virgin Islands.”

On Kentucky not playing 40 minutes of pressure like they saw last year in the Virgin Islands and what they see them doing different…
“Well, they still play extremely hard. I think that’s a trademark of Kentucky’s teams. They are going to get out and get after you. They just don’t stretch it for an entire length of a floor anymore. It’s not 94 feet. It’s in the half court more often than not. Their guards will pick you up and bother you in the back court. But it’s not that full fledge 94 feet of chaos that we used to see with them. I think part of that is because they have a shorter bench. Their complexion is just a little different than it has been in the past. But they still guard you like crazy. They play hard.”

On their biggest concerns against Kentucky going into the game…
“They are just crazy athletic. We don’t match up well at any spot. They’re big and they’re strong. They jump. They’re fast. They’ve got guys who can shoot it on the perimeter and post guys who can use their explosiveness to get to the rim if they can’t go over you. A couple of them have arms that look like Adrian Peterson. I’m telling you, some strong, athletic young girls. They’re a handful, especially in transition and on the glass. Those two areas they are just a handful.”

On Makayla Epps…
“She’s very confident. She gives her team a lot of bravado. She can shoot from the 3, and she can get to the rim and create. She’s just a very good one-on-one player. She’ll size you up and take advantage of whatever weakness that you present. We’ve got to guard her by committee. I don’t think we can do it mono-to-mono.”

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