Paris still sees room for improvement

Oklahoma freshman phenom Courtney Paris talks about her terrific start to the 2005-06 season.

The 20th-ranked OU women's basketball team will play two games in three days starting with Oral Roberts at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Bertha Teague Classic in Stillwater, and then host No. 23 UCLA on Monday. Leading the way for the Sooners will be true freshman Courtney Paris, who is averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds a game.

Paris, who has already twice she has been named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week and Big 12 Player of the Week twice this season, recently sat down with OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: You have hit the ground running and things are going well for you. What do you think of the awards and great publicity that you have received thus far?

CP: "I just think it is good for our program and women's basketball in general, especially in a place where there are other sports like football. We are at a place (OU) where we think women's basketball can really be big and I just think it is a great thing for our team and for our sport."

JH: There are a number of great players in this conference, but you have already been honored twice. You must feel like you are playing pretty well at this point?

CP: "You can ask Coach (Sherri) Coale and all my teammates and they will tell you that I have a lot to learn. I guess that still is an upside in that I can still do positive things, but then get to practice and there is still so much that I don't know. Every day at practice I learn something new. I am very excited because this is just my first year, and I am excited to see what I am going to look like my senior year."

JH: Have you seen some defenses thus far that teams have thrown at you that you haven't seen before?

CP: "I have seen the double- and triple-teams before, but in high school you have girls half the size and half the height. Now there are girls as big and strong as me and it just makes things that much tougher. I am learning how to work around it."

JH: Is this the first time in your life that you are going up against some athletes that are at least as tall as you? Or did you face that in International basketball playing for the USA?

CP: "I think USA Basketball was really big for me because there were girls out there my size or maybe even a little stronger. I definitely faced a lot of competition out there, but there are some big girls here in college, and as we go along this season we will face bigger and stronger girls. I feel like I will be ready for them."

JH: Yeah you know at some point you are going to face girls 6-5 to 6-7 right?

CP: "Definitely, I am about 6-6 with my shoes on so... No, I am just kidding! "

JH: Well, you have been quotedg as saying that you have asked your dad if you are going to get bigger, because you want to get bigger?

CP: "No, I am happy with where I am. I am good."

JH: What is readily apparent about you and Ashley both is your athletic ability. We all know that both of you had size and were good basketball players, but none of us knew how athletic you were. Isn't your athletic ability the major reason why, at 6-4, you can play against girls 6-6 or bigger?

CP: "I think a lot of that credit goes to our strength and condition coach — Tim Overman. He has put a lot of time in us. I don't want to reach the point where people are saying that I can run for a big girl, I want them to say that I can run well in general. I think that is important to me. As long as, with the basketball stuff, I develop a lot of agility and quickness I think I am only going to get better in my years here."

JH: What is the biggest adjustment you have had to make thus far in college basketball?

CP: "I think working hard and working on the little things like boxing out where you swing through and find a man. I am so used to my size that I have always just gone after the ball. I think I can play basketball well, but there are little things that can definitely make me a better basketball player."

JH: Coach Coale told me the same thing about you needing to learn how to box out.

CP: "Of course she would say that. Coach Coale has to know tha it is small steps that count. She is right, because there is so much to learn. We have great leaders like Beky Preston, who is really helping us through all the small things. We are only seven games in so we are going to get it."

JH: You and Ashley have both been in the starting line-up the last few games. So, in your opinion, how is that working out?

CP: "I think it has been an adjustment for me because I am so used to being the main big body in the post, and whenever she is in we are going triple-posts. I think that is going to be great for us in the long haul. It has been an adjustment, but I think that is going to be another weapon that this team is going to have. We are getting a chance to work on it."


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