Five Thoughts on the Oklahoma Women’s Basketball 2022-23 Season
The Oklahoma Sooners finished 26-7 in 2022-23 in Big 12 women’s basketball and here are five thoughts on the team and the future with the season concluded.
The Sooners have had a great non-conference run, with one notable exception — a 124-78 loss to Utah in Salt Lake City the second week of the season. It was a stunning loss on the road. But, as it turned out, Utah was one of the best teams in the nation by season’s end.
The Sooners bounced back to win their last seven non-conference games, including a 95-79 win over Florida at the Jumpman Invitational. The Sooners had a 2-1 record against Power 6 teams, an 0-1 record against Top 25 teams, and a win over future Big 12 member BYU in November and December
In Big 12 action, the Sooners ended up sharing the Big 12 regular-season title with Texas, despite being swept by the Longhorns in the regular season. OU won six of its first seven league games, followed by a two-game losing streak. Then OU won eight of its last nine in the Big 12 regular season. In Kansas City at the Big 12 Tournament, TCU pushed the Sooners to the brink in the quarterfinals before the Sooners lost to Iowa State in the semifinals.
Not winning the Big 12 Tournament may have cost the Sooners a shot at a home sub-regional in the NCAA Tournament. OU beat Portland in the first round and then fell to UCLA in a wild second-round game.
Forward Madi Williams was OU’s most versatile player all season, leading the Sooners in points with 15.7 per game. She also averaged 5.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and one steal. The return of guard Ana Llanusa was incredible, as she averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. The third super-senior, guard Taylor Robertson, set the Women’s NCAA record for most 3-pointers in a career and averaged 11.3 points per game.
Skylar Vann, the Big 12 Sixth Player of the Year for the second straight season, joined the trio in double figures, averaging 11.5 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds.
Forward Liz Scott and guard Nevaeh Tot rounded out one of the most consistent starting lineups in the Big 12. Scott averaged 8.6 points and 6.3 rebounds despite playing just 16.2 minutes per game. Tot, the point guard, averaged 7.5 points and led the team with 3.7 assists.
Aubrey Joens, the sister of Iowa State’s Ashley Joens, came off the bench to score 6.1 points. Freshmen forwards Beatrice Culliton and Kiersten Johnson gave the Sooners solid minutes in their first seasons. Guard Kennedy Tucker was the only other Sooner to average at least 10 minutes, and she got nearly 18 per game.
Everyone knew why Llanusa, Robertson and Williams were returning — it was one more run to try and get as far in the NCAA Tournament as possible. While it was disappointing for the trio to fall in the second round, they leave Norman with a legacy that’s hard to match.
The Sooners have three other seniors — Tucker, Scott, and Jordan Moser. All three have a COVID waiver if they choose to use it.
Kaley Perkins, who didn’t play this season, announced on March 15 that she would enter the transfer portal.
Who’s Staying and Who’s Coming In?
Let’s assume Scott, Tucker and Moser return. Other Sooners with eligibility remaining include Culliton, Johnson, Joens, Tot, Vann, freshman guard Reyna Scott, sophomore forward Kelbie Washington, freshman forward Kayla Cooper, sophomore guard Payton Verhulst (who transferred from Louisville at mid-season) and sophomore guard Emma Svoboda. That’s 13 players.
OU coach Jennie Baranczyk signed two players in the early period — Top 30 prospect Saraha Williams from Waterloo, Iowa, and center Landry Allen from Tuttle, Okla. Barring transfers out, the roster may be full.
Life without the super-seniors. But the Sooners have talent. Vann moves into a starting role next season. So does Joens, who has the range to fill Robertson’s shoes from the arc. Tot remains the point guard. Verhulst should contend for a starting job. Washington should be back after missing the season due to an injury. Two starting jobs look open for this young roster. OU will look a lot different in its final Big 12 season. But the style of play won’t change. Expect a lot of points.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard