Stillwater News Press

Sports

October 15, 2013

Cowgirls eye Big 12 title and NCAA tourney run

(Continued)

STILLWATER, Okla. —

The end result? A more athletic team that can run with just about anybody in the country, all while providing enough flash to keep fans in Gallagher-Iba Arena entertained.

“I think our strengths are our team chemistry and our athleticism,” Bias said. “I think we are very athletic this year and have a full bench that can all play.”

No doubt, the Cowgirls will need that bench this season. While Oklahoma State returns four starters — Bias, Brittney Martin, Liz Donohoe and Kendra Suttles — the one that isn’t returning was a key cog in Oklahoma State’s success.

Toni Young led the team with 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. Now she’s in New York playing for the WNBA’s New York Liberty, leaving a big hole for Littell to fill.

“That’s where we’re trying to find our identity right now,” Littell said. “When you’re a first-round pick then you’re a real talent. The thing that Toni gave us was that we had the ability to pitch the ball to her late in the shot clock and she could create her own shot. ... Not one person is going to (make up for Young), so we have to do it collectively. We have to find a way to get Brittney Martin four more points a game and Tiffany Bias four more points a game. We’re going to have to pick up that slack collectively.”

But while Young’s departure left a gaping hole in Oklahoma State’s offense, Littell is hoping an influx of eight freshmen and junior transfer Marisha Wallace will make up the difference.

While not all of the freshmen are ready to play just yet, Littell is confident a few could see some crucial minutes this season.

“We feel like (Johnson, Katelyn Loecker and Lakota Beatty) will make significant contributions early,” Littell said. “Brittany Atkins, who is a redshirt freshman, is coming back strong from knee surgery. We feel all four of them will come out strong from the get go.”

When asked whether or not that could mean another run at the Big 12 title and possibly Oklahoma State’s first Sweet 16 berth since 2008, Littell just smiled.

“You never know,” Littell said. “As always, the Big 12 is going to be a difficult league to play in. We’re very optimistic about the season. We have some great leadership and a great group of talented, athletic kids. Those things are usually a recipe for success.”

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