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Old 01-10-2018, 08:53 AM   #1
bluesooner17
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Default Finding the basket more

OU’s Maddie Manning riding hot scoring streak into Lubbock

Maddie Manning heard all preseason about how she needed to score more. That narrative has followed her around the past two seasons, she admits.
Something is starting to work.

Manning led OU with 22 and a career-high 25 points, respectively, in the Sooners’ past two games, scoring 20 or more points in two straight outings for just the second time in her career.

Averaging 14.5 points, two points above her mark last season, she is just shy of co-leading the team in scoring with center Vionise Pierre-Louis ahead of OU’s game at Texas Tech (6 p.m., Wednesday).

This is what OU’s coaching staff hoped would happen for the graduate guard.

“I was a little in-and-out early [in the season],” Manning said. “We were changing the way we were playing often and I was kind of dealing with a little bit of sickness, which made it hard to go. But it helps when my three-ball is going in. Just hitting a couple of those, the numbers go up automatically. I was playing well in other ways, but I was shooting the three horrendously.”

She is 6 of 11 from long range the past two games.

“It just makes the defense more honest. You’ve gotta be out on me, so it helps me get to the rim easier and it opens my teammates as well,” Manning said. Manning’s 18.3 scoring average through four Big 12 games ranks eighth in the league. She hasn’t been known for assertiveness, but in the early part of Sunday’s 96-82 loss at No. 20 Oklahoma State on Sunday, she scored five of her team’s first seven points, canning a long jumper, then stepping out and burying a 3-pointer.

It was contagious. OU jumped to a 28-22 lead before a disastrous second quarter helped OSU seize control.

“I’ve been focusing on scoring more. … But more than anything I’ve been focusing on getting my team ready and starting those first couple possessions off the right way,” Manning said. “We had a great first quarter in those aspects. I think we need to play defense better, but as far as our energy and being connected, we were really connected from the start.”

There is a correlation between OU victories and Manning’s strong outings. The Sooners are 12-5 all-time when she leads in scoring. No current player has a better track record.

Her shift to point guard — the position that allows Manning to get “lost in the game,” she says — bolsters her ability to score.

“When I got moved more on the ball, they wanted me to be a scorer from that position. They didn’t want me to be a distributor, necessarily. They wanted me to make plays and decisions coming off of screens, and part of that is scoring,” Manning said.

Texas Tech fired head coach Candi Whitaker on New Year’s Day. The struggling Red Raiders (69, 0-4) are led by interim coach Shimmy Gray-Miller and forward Brittany Brewer, who averages 11.1 points.

OU (7-8, 2-2 Big 12) might not need a huge performance from Manning in order to leave Lubbock with a victory.

But it’s in the Sooners’ best interest for Manning’s hot streak to continue.

“It changes everything. I think the way people defend us is affected a little bit, but more than that it’s the way her teammates feel when they’re on the floor,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “That when we need a basket she’s capable of going and delivering that.

“That’s pretty much been the thing we’ve been searching for all year, who’s that guy when we’ve gotta have a basket? Who’s that guy? And she’s been that the last few games.”
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