Coale, VanDerveer preview Saturday's matchup

See inside for quotes from OU head coach Sherri Coale, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, Sooner center Courtney Paris and Cardinal guard Candice Wiggins on Saturday's Sweet 16 matchup. Pictured above: Coale looks on during Wednesday's practice. OU and Stanford will tip-off at 1:30 p.m on Saturday.


On whether OU is the favorite in this matchup
"Oh, I guess a little bit, probably, because we are the higher seed. But you can look at the men's NCAA Tournament or even the women's as of yesterday and see that it doesn't matter so much. I don't know how much difference there is in the two teams. When Stanford beat us the last time, they were a seven seed. I don't know that it matters. They're a very good team and we've been playing well. We've just got to go out there and do what we've been doing."

On the fact that her players seem to be loose and not nervous about the Sweet 16
"Our guys are real. I encourage them to be who they are. We have an eclectic bunch of kids and they are relaxed with themselves and each other. It's really a pretty special deal. I don't sense that they are nervous or in awe. Sure, our guys are excited because it's a new deal for them to be in the Sweet 16, but they're more than happy to talk about it. The limelight doesn't unnerve them."


On Stanford
"I grew up in that area so it's a big deal to be playing them. A lot of the players that I played against or grew up watching are on that team, so it's gonna be fun. Candice Wiggins and I played against each other twice in my four years of high school for the state championship. And I watched Brooke Smith shoot that hook shot in high school and she seems to still be shooting it well in college."

On OU's guards
"The great thing is when one of them is not going well, the other one is coming in and hitting threes like Kendra (Moore) has done or Britney (Brown) is driving to the hoop and dishing it off. They're just tough and playing with confidence. That's the most important thing. Our guards don't back down from people. I think we'll be just fine against Stanford."


On Courtney Paris
"My sophomore year, I played Courtney in the state finals and my senior year we played them. So when I was a sophomore and she was a freshman, we beat her team, and then when I was a senior, they beat us. And the past few years, I've played with her on the USA team, the under-19 team and this last year. So I got a chance to play against her and then I got to know her. She's just the most positive person. I can't really describe how sweet of a person she is. Genuinely humble and even though I spent a total of like seven or eight weeks with her, she never was in a bad mood. She's always so funny and well-spoken and cheerful. But on the court she changes, she really got a competitive fire about her that is, I think, very fun for people to watch."


On Courtney Paris being named a Naismith Finalist
"Well, I think it's well deserved. I think she's a fabulous freshman. I've known Courtney since she grew up out here and watched her throughout her high school career, but she's really improved. She shows great poise, she is a tremendous player and a really bright face in the future of women's basketball."

On OU-Stanford Rivalry
"I said to Sherri when we saw each other in Denver, what's up with them putting us in the bracket together all the time? I think we were in the same bracket in Boise, Idaho and then obviously we came to Norman. And we were in the same bracket when we went down to Tempe and now this one, so I think it's like four times in the last six years. And other times we have played Oklahoma. It started for us when we recruited Sarah Dimson (from Norman High). And honestly, I want to talk to Sherri and see if we can keep it going – not necessarily in the NCAA, but with them having Courtney and Ashley from this area, maybe they want to come out and we can do a home and away."

On how to guard Courtney Paris
"We've got to look at some different ways to defend her. That's a compliment to not just Courtney, but first of all, I think the other players on their team. You can't just focus on Courtney because they have tremendous talent around her. I think the coaches have done an excellent job of developing schemes that take advantage of all their players' strengths. There are certain things our team really has to focus on and hopefully, it's not giving them any second shots and getting back to take away the easy baskets, some of the basic stuff. But at this point, there's not a whole lot of stuff that you can change in what you're doing."

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