Reasons for thanks, the sports version
Note: I continue to write some columns for The Norman Transcript, and for that reason this Thanksgiving column, in one section, is a little Norman-centric. Still, it’s a good rundown, and a bit personal at the end. Enjoy, and happy Thanksgiving.
It seems like a time to give thanks. Or, perhaps, given the forum, a time to proclaim that for which others, you know, sports fans around here, should be thankful.
Like a football team headed in the right direction, because for all the inconsistency, two losses it still feels like Oklahoma should not have lost, for the infuriating traps Jeff Lebby play calls his way into, the Sooners are still going to win 9, 10, 11 or, should they get some help from Texas Tech or BYU, perhaps even 12 games this season and that’s a lot more than six last season.
If it was amateur hour last year, it isn’t this year and there’s good reason for confidence entering next season, even in the conference of the old confederacy, where many believe they invented the game. Alas, the turnaround is real.
Like a women’s basketball team that appears to be better, perhaps quite a bit better, than a squad that last year said goodbye to several pillars of the program.
Though Madi Williams, Taylor Robertson and Ana Llanusa are no longer on the court, coach Jennie Baranczyk’s squad is 5-0 heading into Thanksgiving break event action in St. Myers, Fla.
The Sooner women are averaging 84 points per game, they’ve already upended Virginia and then-No. 12 Ole Miss on the road, both by double digits, while topping their other three opponents by an average by 36.3 points.
Maybe this season they make their first actual NCAA tourney run playing for their third-year skipper.
Wouldn’t you know, it may even be time to be thankful for the Sooner men, too.
They’ve yet to lose, too, winning their first four by a range of 24 to 39 points. No they haven’t played anybody but they will where they’re heading, on their own Thanksgiving break event in San Diego, where they’ll open with Iowa and close with Seton Hall or Southern Cal.
Most hopeful, four games into Porter Moser’s third and, should things not improve, conceivably last season, is the Sooners’ pace has improved.
In Moser’s last two seasons at OU and previous three at Loyola-Chicago, his squads averaged 53.3, 53.1, 52.2, 50.4 and 49.7 field goal attempts, each season ranking between 330th and 351st, according to teamrankings.com in Division I.
Yet, this season, against Central Michigan, Mississippi Valley State, Texas State and UT-Rio Grande Valley, the Sooners are averaging 88.5 points per contest, ranking 18th) on 59.8 shot attempts per game, ranking 155th.
It’s a start, especially if the Sooners can stay there as the opponents get better and conference play arrives.
Though we’re not in season yet, Sooner fans should be thankful they get to know what it was like to be a UConn women’s hoops fan between 2000 and 2010 — six national championship, four in five seasons — because that’s what Sooner softball has been: six national championships in 11 seasons, three in five seasons and, right now, three straight.
The program’s about to begin play in a new stadium, Love’s Field, where one hopes sportswriters will finally be allowed back in the press box.
I don’t like the move to the SEC, but for softball it ought to be fabulous viewing.
Can we be thankful for the high schools, too?
Both Norman North and Norman High were among the last eight teams standing in the Class 6A-1 football bracket and both won a playoff game.
It’s old hat to the Timberwolves and a bold step forward for the Tigers, but mostly it’s two solid seasons from the hometown teams.
The basketball’s been fabulous, too. Last March, NHS and North opened in the girls state tourney against one another, and the NHS girls reached the championship game.
On the boys side, NHS returned to the state tourney following a long absence.
I’m thankful for a daughter and son-in-law who are both quite cool and right minded and who will take care of my teeth as long as I have them.
Also, the great Gwenda, who makes life exciting and fun.
Also, each of you who allow my voice to carry, at least a little.