Georgia Tech-Oklahoma Preview
March 23, 2009
For The Associated Press
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -If you want to know about the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA women's tournament, just ask Georgia Tech.
By late Tuesday, the Yellow Jackets will have seen them all.
Georgia Tech will face top-seeded Oklahoma on Tuesday night in a second-round game that will send the winner to the Oklahoma City Regional. With that game, the Yellow Jackets will have run the table because they met the other No. 1s - Connecticut, Maryland and Duke - during the regular season and lost all three games.
So how do the Sooners stack up against the others?
They're somewhat like Maryland, Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said, because they have outstanding inside play with Courtney and Ashley Paris and a slick point guard in Danielle Robinson. Their post play is similar to Duke's, she added.
"I don't know that anybody necessarily compares to Connecticut," Joseph said.
Georgia Tech (22-9), a No. 9 seed, gave unbeaten UConn one of its closest games of the season, losing 82-71 in Storrs on Nov. 16. The Yellow Jackets lost at Duke 60-34 and fell to Maryland at home, 87-79.
They earned their shot at Oklahoma by overwhelming Iowa with their athleticism and quickness in a 76-62 victory Sunday night. Oklahoma (29-4) advanced with a less-than-impressive 76-47 win over Prairie View.
For all the attention the Paris twins get, Joseph believes everything about the Sooners starts with Robinson, a lanky sophomore who averages 12.8 points, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals.
"She's a difference maker," Joseph said. "She pushes the ball in transition as good as anybody in the country. She's got the kind of speed and quickness that really makes them difficult to defend."
If it's speed you want, few in sneakers can match Tech point guard Jacqua Williams, a sprinter on the school's track team. She scored 23 points against Iowa and keys an aggressive defense that leads the nation in steals and forces an average of 24.7 turnovers a game.
Tech also can counter the Paris sisters with 6-foot-5 freshman Sasha Goodlett, who powered her way to 16 points and 13 rebounds against Iowa.
"She's had big numbers throughout the course of the year," Joseph said. "Being a freshman, she hasn't been consistent. You saw (Sunday) night what she's capable of."
For Oklahoma, Tech's harassing defense will be similar to what it saw from Big 12 rival Texas A&M and that hasn't turned out so well for the Sooners lately. A&M frustrated Oklahoma with its defensive pressure twice in recent weeks, winning 57-56 on Feb. 23 and 74-62 in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament.
In that one-point loss, the Sooners committed 29 turnovers, eight by Robinson. OU turned it over 17 times and shot only 32 percent in the Big 12 tournament loss.
But OU coach Sherri Coale is grateful for having played those games because she figures they have prepared her team for what it'll face next.
"Georgia Tech comes at you with the traps -- hard, athletic traps from side to side," she said. "You have to survive that wave. Once you cross (halfcourt), they come at you again. You can never, ever relax.
"You have to survive the first part of it. We feel like we can have some success once we do survive it."
The Sooners also know they'll need a strong effort on the boards after watching Georgia Tech dominate Iowa inside.
"Our block-outs have to be as good as they've ever been - and our guys know that," Coale said.
The same goes for Tech in dealing with OU's inside play. Courtney Paris needs only 14 rebounds to become the first college player, male or female, to accumulate 2,500 points and 2,000 rebounds.
"More than likely, it's not about the first shot she takes," Williams said. "It's about boxing her out and not letting her get offensive rebounds and putbacks."
Paris already owns a slew of records. Her mind's on something else at the moment.
"I'm just thinking about one more win to go to Oklahoma City," she said.
The Sooners should get a lift from the expected return of forward Amanda Thompson, who missed Sunday night's game because of a sprained tendon in her left foot. Thompson averages 7.4 points and five rebounds and brings an extra dose of toughness.
"Against the athleticism of Georgia Tech, it would be great to be able to use her and I think we will have an opportunity to do that," Coale said. "How long she can go, no one knows."
Georgia Tech again will be without leading scorer and rebounder Alex Montgomery, who was left at home to rehabilitate a knee injury.
"The thing we miss most is her toughness," Joseph said. "She sets the tone for us on the defensive end and offensively taking the shot."