COLUMN: Paris’ guarantee makes tournament more interesting
Courtney Paris didn’t need some sort of shtick to leave her mark at OU, but now she has it anyway.
As if Paris, one of college basketball’s most dominant players, didn’t make enough headlines by her game, she’s turned some heads with her words recently also.
After OU’s 61-49 victory over Texas Tech Wednesday night, during Senior Night festivities, Paris guaranteed that if the Sooners didn’t win a National Championship in 2009, she would pay back her scholarship to OU.
Those are some bold words.
Bold words that are even bolder when you consider the circumstances.
During the Paris era, the Sooners have historically underachieved in the NCAA tournament. There have been talented teams before, and Paris has been dominant since she arrived, but the Sooners have yet to advance past the Sweet 16 during her three years.
The Sooners are currently without freshman guard Whitney Hand, their biggest outside threat, and although she may return early on in the tournament, there’s no telling how long it could take her to return to form after sitting out four weeks.
And then there’s the fact that Connecticut stands squarely in the Sooners’ path to a national title.
Surely you remember the Huskies. They’re the team that beat the Sooners by 28 in November. They’re the team that is undefeated and won every regular season game by double digits. They’re the team that has put together arguably the most dominant regular season in recent history.
They could cause some issues for OU.
I understand why Paris would make the claim. This year’s Sooner team is probably the best since she has been at OU. They have a more complete team than in the past, multiple improved players from last season and were one last-second shot away from finishing conference play undefeated.
But still, the odds are stacked against Paris. While she was probably riding high on Senior Night, she may have had second thoughts once she got home. Paying back more than $60,000 on a WNBA salary won’t be easy.
But the guarantee is good for OU women’s college basketball.
While the women’s team has its fair share of fans, it has often been, especially among students, behind the men in popularity.
But now Paris has given those fans who don’t normally tune in a reason to watch the Sooners in the NCAA tournament.
Whether her prediction comes true doesn’t matter — she’s going to make history either way. She will become either the Joe Namath of OU, somehow following through on a crazy guarantee, or she will always be known as the athlete who paid her scholarship back to the university.
Either way, it makes for an interesting March. And I’m definitely pulling for a UConn/OU championship.
-Steven Jones is a language arts education junior and the Daily’s sports editor.