Sooner women will be better in 2003-04

The return of Hill and Higgins should make Oklahoma a Big 12 and national contender again next season

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma's season ended Sunday night with a 71-61 loss to George Washington, but they will be back even stronger in 2003-04.

The Sooners should be much better next year when redshirt senior Caton Hill returns from knee surgery, along with redshirt freshman Erin Higgins. Hill could be an All-American forward next year and Higgins was close to beating out Big-12 Co-Freshman of the year Chelsi Welch early in the season. Higgins is rehabbing her second ACL injury and if she can stay healthy she will be the Sooners best three-point shooter.

Dionnah Jackson and Maria Villarroel return along with Welch, Higgins and Stephanie Luce at guard for Head Coach Sherri Coale. Ardmore point guard Kendra Moore comes in after rehabbing an ACL injury. If healthy, Moore can come in and start at the point. That would help the Sooners' turnover problem and move Jackson to her more natural position at shooting guard. Jackson would still have to play the point some, but Moore can give Jackson some freedom during games.

Beky Preston improved a great deal for the Sooners and that improvement should continue heading into her sophomore year. Preston and Hill will be a tough duo for opponents next year. All-American Leah Rush of Amarillo, Texas, brings tremendous talent to the Sooner team next year and will help immediately. Six-foot-three Casey Walker is also coming off major knee surgery, and was showing outstanding low post skills before suffering her injury. If healthy, she will provide tremendous depth for the Sooners.

The Sooners hope to sign a JUCO post and top five forward Tiffany Thompson of Trinity Valley, Texas, who was at the game tonight. The Sooners are slight leaders over Purdue and Texas Tech. Also, don't count out Antoinette Wadsworth. She played well tonight and appears to be finally getting over her torn ACL. She is small in the post at 5-11, but if he plays with emotion like she did tonight she can be a factor inside.

Six-foot-one Krista Sanchez of Springdale, Arkansas is a versatile player who can play the wing or post up. She is very athletic and considered one of the top 50 players in the country.

The young players should be greatly improved next season and the Sooners should be ranked in the top 20 at the beginning of the year.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories