Cowgirls Arrive In New Orleans

The Oklahoma State Cowgirls got an enthusiastic send off at Stillwater Municipal Airport early Thursday afternoon as their NCAA scheduled charter flight departed with a large number of Oklahoma State fans looking into the sun and waving good-bye to arguably the most successful women's basketball team in school history.

There would be no doubt about that statement if the Cowgirls (27-7) can find a way to knock off number two seed and powerhouse program LSU at 1:30 p.m. in the New Orleans Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers and SEC Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles are a strong possibility to make the schools fifth consecutive Final Four appearance.

If the Cowgirls upset the Tigers there is no doubt that sophomore All-Big 12 and All American guard Andrea Riley will be leading the way. Riley is averaging 23.5 points a game through the Cowgirls' first two wins in the NCAA Tournament, and 23.0 points a game on the season. Riley, of course, knocked down the winning free throw in the overtime win over Florida State.

While Riley is gaining more and more attention with her performance in the tournament, so is her father, thanks to ESPN. The stoic Roosevelt Riley Jr., has been getting lots of air time on ESPN.

"I talked to him about it but he doesn't really elaborate on it at all," said Riley of her father. "He will just look up at the screen (arena video board) and he won't change expressions at all. He is not really into all that publicity because that is not the kind of person he is."

Riley can't afford to be into the publicity because the man he works for and protects along with others in the Dallas Cowboys organization are into publicity. Riley is the top man in providing secrurity for Dallas Cowboys owner and successful businessman Jerry Jones. When he is not keeping Jones and other Cowboy interests secure and out of harm's way, he is working with young women like his daughter.

"Roosevelt has had one of the top AAU programs in Dallas for a long time," said Cowgirls head coach Kurt Budke. "A lot of girls owe him over the year for the opportunities he has helped them find through basketball. He is a very respected man because of the way he does it, the right way."

With his daughter that right way was by being pretty conservative with the compliments, something that had to be hard for a father to do.

"I think I owe him a lot," said Riley of her dad's influence. "I owe him to go out and play my best each night and let people know my dad taught me this and taught that about playing and being the fighter that I am. He corrects all my mistakes and he criticizes me all the time and that really helps me a lot."

Riley will tell you the only time her dad has ever told her she played a great game was after she scored the 45 points with no turnovers in the Bedlam win over Oklahoma.

"That was the first time that he told me that. Ever," emphasized Riley.

The 5-5 dynamo would like to hear her dad say it again after the game with LSU on Saturday, but she knows it's something that Roosevelt Riley needs to be ready to say to Andrea and her teammates. A one-woman team won't cut it in New Orleans.

"Andrea Riley has to have this kind of game or that kind of game and without her the Cowgirls are nothing," said Riley of what some may think. "It is not that way because we have a lot of people and they can all step up and I'm thinking they will Saturday against LSU. I know my dad knows their coach and I want to make him proud, so I will be stepping up Saturday."

If everybody steps up then the Cowgirls really could be playing for a Final Four berth of their own on Monday night.

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