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OU women's basketball: Taylor Robertson's profile, depth issues and Courtney Paris' coaching key in 2020-21

Oklahoma's Taylor Robertson (30) makes a basket last season against Baylor at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma's Taylor Robertson (30) makes a basket last season against Baylor at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

NORMAN — OU women’s basketball is coming off a 12-18 season that ended with an eight-game losing streak.

It was the Sooners’ second consecutive losing season after 20 consecutive winning years.

OU opens its season at home Wednesday against Houston (noon, Fox Sports Oklahoma):

Here are three things to watch as the Sooners hope for a turnaround in 2020:

1. Taylor Robertson’s profile

Robertson has been the biggest bright spot of the last two seasons, setting an OU and Big record last season with 131 3-pointers and shooting better than 44% from beyond the arc in the last two seasons combined.

“Taylor Robertson is the best shooter I have ever been on the floor with, and I’ve been on the floor with some unbelievable shooters,” Sooners coach Sherri Coale said. “I think of Whitney Hand, Aaryn Ellenberg, Erin Higgins. I’ve just never seen anybody shoot it with the consistency that T-Rob does. It’s partly her skill set. It’s partly her unflappable emotional make up. She never gets too high, never gets too low and so she always has access to that sweet spot.”

Coale said Robertson’s shooting abilities mask the other areas of her game, especially areas where she made big progress last season.

“She’s not a flashy athlete by any stretch of the imagination,” Coale said. “But she does have athlete’s eyes and she makes great decisions and she’s crafty and clever and she has a high IQ, understands the game. She’s a terrific basketball player that I hope starts to get some national buzz around what she does.

“I know that our team has to perform better for her to do that.”

2. Thrown into the fire

The Sooners have three freshmen on the roster — 6-foot-3 forward Heavenly Greer, four-star guard Neveah Tot and guard Skylar Vann, a former Deer Creek standout whose father, Bryatt, led the Sooners in scoring in 1992-93.

Those three better be ready to play significant minutes.

With a pair of players transferring out and some others opting out for 2020-21, the Sooners have only 10 players on their roster and one, Ana Llanusa, recently underwent surgery and will miss the season.

So all three freshmen figure to get a chance to play.

“They’re going to have to learn on the fly and play a lot,” Coale said.

With an abbreviated non-conference schedule — the Sooners play just five games before opening Big 12 play Dec. 10 at Kansas and will play Bedlam rival Oklahoma State for the first time Dec. 15 — those players need to be ready to contribute quickly.

Though depth is thin, the Sooners do at least return five players who started a combined 125 games a year ago.

3. Paris’ impact

Courtney Paris was one of college basketball’s most dominant presences during her days with the Sooners.

In the offseason, Paris joined Coale’s staff after her playing career ended.

At 6-foot-3, Greer is the tallest player on OU’s roster, which should give Coale some more options in her rotations.

Mandy Simpson was the tallest regular starter last season at 6-foot-1, and she returns.

While Paris figures to make an immediate impact on the Sooners’ post players, she figures to also help boost OU’s recruiting, especially on the interior.

OU women's basketball schedule

Nov. 25: vs. Houston (noon)

Nov. 28: vs. Gonzaga in Sioux Falls, S.D. (5 p.m.)

Nov 29: vs. South Carolina in Sioux Falls, S.D. (2:30 p.m.)

Nov. 30: vs. South Dakota in Sioux Falls, S.D. (5 p.m.)

Dec. 6: at Georgia

Dec. 10: at Kansas

Dec. 13: vs. Texas State (2 p.m.)

Dec. 15: vs. Oklahoma State (7 p.m.)

Dec. 29: vs. Arkansas - Pine Bluff Norman

Jan. 2: vs. Kansas State

Jan. 6: at Texas Tech

Jan. 9: vs. TCU

Jan. 12: at Texas

Jan. 16: vs. West Virginia

Jan. 19: at Iowa State

Jan. 23: at Baylor

Jan. 27: vs. Kansas

Jan. 31: at Kansas State

Feb. 3: vs. Texas

Feb. 6: at Oklahoma State

Feb. 9: vs. Iowa State

Feb. 14: at West Virginia

Feb. 17: vs. Texas Tech

Feb. 20: vs. Baylor

Feb. 24: at TCU

Ryan Aber

Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The... Read more ›