Sherri Coale's Sooners have struggled on the road this season and Tuesday's test doesn't get easier.
Life is different on the road. Just ask Sherri Coale.
On Saturday after their shortest road trip of the season, Coale's agitation at losing to the Cowgirls was more than evident when addressing the media. She fielded a question about taking this loss harder than others this season, and she was quick to ask when anyone in the room had even seen an OU defeat in person. Because, really, there was only one previous loss this season in the state of Oklahoma.
"Have you seen us after any of our other losses?" Coale responded. "I'm just curious, because I think one was in Nashville, one was in Fresno ... so... what are you comparing it to? We want to win every game we play and we're not ok with losing. Ever. We'll be alright. We'll show up on Tuesday and play Kansas State, I promise you."
She has a point there.
Oklahoma is 10-5 thus far in the season. Of the Sooners' losses, four of the five have come on the road. They've lost in Nashville, Fresno, College Station and Stillwater. Their lone road win was at New Mexico in the second game of the season., a 58-56 squeaker. Adding in the sole home loss to Ohio State, OU averaged 63.2 points in their defeats. This same squad averaged 84.4 points per game in their five home wins.
"Being on the road is definitely different than being at Lloyd Noble. When you have 10,000 fans who are cheering for you and it's a nice, comfortable, safe environment," Coale said about OU's home base. [For the record, she wildly exaggerated the early season attendance numbers as the Sooners are averaging 6,140 fans in their six home games.]
"When you're on the road and no one is cheering for you, it's a different environment. It's a different environment to get up at 7:30 and get on a bus and go to a game. It's different to play at 11 o'clock in the morning. There are all kinds of things that are different."
The Sooners will have more "different" to deal with tonight when the team tips off at 7 p.m. CT in the Little Apple of Manhattan, Kansas to face upstart Kansas State. The 23rd-ranked Wildcats share the conference top spot with the undefeated Baylor Bears at the only two Big 12 teams to start the year 4-0.K-State is 13-3 overall with early-season losses to non-conference opponents Hofstra, Purdue and UNLV.
Incidentally, the Wildcats were picked ninth out of 10 teams in the Big 12 during the preseason coaches poll. Their low preseason perception came despite the fact that K-State finished the 2011 season fourth in the league, and the team returned core components in senior leaders Brittney Chambers and Jalana Childs, coupled with senior Tasha Dickey, a transfer from Arizona.
OU appears to be sorely missing the leadership and skills of the phenomenal Danielle Robinson on the court, but will have history on their side. The Sooners have won the last eight games against K-State including last season's 53-45 affair. However, history hasn't been kind to OU this week, as they had beaten Oklahoma State eight times in a row before falling on Saturday 66-63.
Despite the surprise from some local media members about the successes and failures of this year's OU team, Coale is very secure in knowing this is a rebuilding time for the Sooners.
"We're a work in progress. That is not a secret to anyone on the planet," Coale said of her team. "We are learning and growing and figuring things out, and it's not going to always be like this. We'll just get back to work tomorrow and get ready for Kansas State on Tuesday night.
"And the sky has not fallen."