In dealing with off tomorrow evening for a spot within the Candy 16, UCLA and Oklahoma appear like opposites, on paper.
The guard-heavy Bruins characteristic a star senior in Charisma Osborne, and 5 gifted freshmen, lead by scoring machine Kiki Rice, who have been the No. 2 recruiting class coming into this system. With eight newcomers, they labored to study one another, and had some stumbles within the midst of Pac-12 play. However within the convention event they took down favourite Stanford within the semifinals to advance to the championship recreation, the place they misplaced to Washington State.
In opposition to Massive Sky champs Sacramento State in recreation 1 of the NCAA Match final evening, UCLA performed looser and extra relaxed than they’d all season in working to a 67-45 win. All however one of many 10 who took the ground scored, and so they executed and defended constantly from wire to wire.
The Sooners characteristic a veteran trio that has performed collectively for 5 years below two totally different coaches: Madi Williams, Taylor Robertson and Ana Llanusa. They’ve a solid that may shoot the lights out, and which is great in transition.
Within the semifinals of the Massive 12 Match, Oklahoma stumbled. In opposition to Portland within the first spherical this weekend, they let the Pilots’ protection stifle their rhythm, and it took till the second half of the sport for them to lock in and play their very own recreation. The Sooners received, 85-63.
Each groups have been ranked many of the season, and have virtually an identical data. However the Bruins performed South Dakota State and Tennessee early, after which took No. 1 South Carolina to the restrict earlier than the nationwide championships pulled out the win. Oklahoma coach Jennie Baranczyk mentioned that adjustments the sort of workforce that their opponents are.
“I don’t know for those who can really depend UCLA’s freshmen as freshmen, so let’s be actual…..they’re so gifted,” Baranczyk mentioned. “We aren’t going into this recreation saying, we’ve expertise and subsequently we’re simply going to point out up and the expertise takes care of itself. You’ve set to work, and it’s March, and anyone can do something.”
She mentioned generally there’s a profit for youthful gamers in “simply enjoying.”
“That’s the place I’m hoping on this recreation tomorrow, it’s going to be an incredible recreation for girls’s basketball, but it surely’s not a youth versus expertise. What (the Bruins) have had as expertise is fairly darned good for a primary yr.”
UCLA coach Cori Shut has her personal considerations about their opponent, who she watched play within the recreation previous to theirs.
“Once you take a look at their shot chart, they approach they assault up the fitting facet of the ground in transition and skip to the opposite facet of the ground, the success that the have with simply that motion, is over 50 % of their offense,” she mentioned. “It’s exceptional how rapidly they assault in transition and the way nicely they discover shooters.”
Shut mentioned protection shall be key for the Bruins.
“They have a number of weapons who know learn how to stretch the ground, who’re versatile. So I’m nervous about a number of issues by way of stopping them, but it surely begins with transition (protection) and ends with rebounding.”
Gamers have taken a cue from Shut, who has urged them to have enjoyable. Rice, who mentioned she has dreamed of enjoying within the NCAA Match all her life, mentioned she was excited going into the event, and is prepared.
“I believe all through the season, my confidence has gone up, as I’ve bought extra expertise enjoying video games,” she mentioned. “Understanding what my workforce wants from me, studying the sport – it comes from that.”
Shut mentioned the distinction between the workforce they have been even six weeks in the past and who they’re now could be that they realized learn how to cope with varied kinds of adversity in recreation conditions.
“I believe our id is extra solidified,” she mentioned. “We labored actually, actually exhausting at that. It hasn’t been straightforward, however we’re extra assured in who we’re, and once we are at our greatest.”
The Sooners have excessive vanity due to their familiarity with one another.
“Since we’ve been enjoying collectively for thus lengthy, we’ve this connection that not a number of different groups have,” Robertson mentioned. “We already know what one another goes to do earlier than we even do it, and it simply makes enjoying very easy.”
No. 4 seed UCLA and No. 5 Oklahoma tip Monday at 7 p.m. PT on ESPN2.