NORMAN, OK—It has only been one game for Oklahoma women's basketball team, and McPherson alum Taylor Robertson has already made her mark as a Lady Sooner. Last Friday during the OU's home opener against Western Kentucky University, Robertson scored 24 points off the bench in the Sooners' 90-83 victory over the Hilltoppers. The Sooners shot 42.4 percent from the 3-point line.
Not surprisingly, Robertson shot eight 3s, which tied for the fourth most 3-pointers in a single game, and a single-game record as a freshman. The former Miss Kansas Basketball also contributed with six rebounds and two assists. She was named Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Week on Tuesday.
There were nerves for the former 2017 Gatorade-of-the-Year player, however, once she found her rhythm and flow of the game, there wasn't anything stopping her once she finds her sweet spot.
"I was pretty nervous, but as soon as we started playing a little bit, going up and down in a couple trips, the nerves just went away a little bit, and I just got locked into the game. It was just a lot of fun," Robertson said.
Bullpups' head girls basketball coach Chris Strathman, couldn't came at a better time as he took some time off to travel to Oklahoma University to see his former star player. He also got the chance to see how the Sooners' head coach Sherri Coale run her team during the week of preparation. He also watched the men's practice and saw former college basketball great, now head coach for University of Houston, Kelvin Sampson speak to the team afterwards.
Strathman had the best seat in the house as he witnessed his former star player put on a show in an OU uniform for the first time. It may come as a shock for the people in Norman, but for Strathman, it was no surprise at all. That's all he knew from Robertson for all these years of coaching her.
"We knew Taylor was going to play quite a bit based on what she had told me, and also how much she played and how well she played in their exhibition. She had also indicated that she had been playing pretty well in their closed scrimmages versus other college teams, where no fans or media were allowed," Strathman said. "When Western Kentucky was in a zone and stayed that way pretty much the entire time, that was just a recipe for Taylor to have a big game because she was going to get some good looks."
Robertson is no stranger in shattering records because that's all she did when she was a Bullpup. Averaging 23.9 points a game, Robertson set the school record for points per game (24.3), field goal percentage and she is McPherson's all-time leader in scoring with 582 points. She led the Bullpups to the state championship last season when they defeated Bishop Miege High School in overtime.
The Sooners recruited seven freshmen this past offseason. There was never any concerns for Robertson when it comes to seeking minutes. She knew that her main focus was her transition from high school to college, and playing at a high level, knowing that the flow of the game is different.
"Every single person is talented in their own ways, and it's good competition at practice, and we always push each other to get better, and that's only going to help us," Robertson said.
Luckily for Robertson, Coale has taken advantage of Robertson's strength. In their exhibition game, Robertson shot seven 3s and scored 21 points against Northeastern State on Nov.5. That was the confidence Robertson needed when entering the game.
"Whenever she tells me to shoot, and let it fly with confidence, it just gave me a boost, knowing that she knows that I can shoot it," Robertson said. "I'll just take what the defenders gives me, whether it's me shooting or driving, or making an extra pass to my teammate or setting someone else up,"
"For now, they are really using Taylor Robertson) to spread the floor and she has a very green light from the 3-point line," Strathman said. "The main thing she is not doing now that she got really good at for us was attacking, creating and also getting herself to the free throw line. They have much different personnel so they need her to play that spacer role, and no one can do that better than Taylor."
Strathman was with Robertson's family after the game, but haven't seen much of Robertson because she was too busy signing autographs to the fans and speaking to the media members. Even though Robertson has found success thus far with only one gameunder her belt, she has a long way to go according to Strathman.
"Taylor would be the first to say that she hasn't arrived yet because she is smart enough to know that her shooting is no longer a secret and everyone will have her highlighted on the scouting report. Just like high school, it took all of one game for teams to figure that out," Strathman said. "Now teams will start to adjust the way they guard her and will run her off the 3-point line as much as possible. Regardless, her presence on the floor makes her teammates better because of the space she creates as people have to know where she is at all times."
Strathman might not return to Norman for awhile as he focuses on his Bullpups' team, but he is planning a road trip to Manhattan with his players as they are looking to see Robertson again when the Sooners take on Kansas State on Jan.5. He also wants to see Mandi Cooks eventually, who plays at the University of Texas of San Antonio, but that might take some time, yet he will see her at one point in her college career as a Road Runner. Regardless, Strathman remains in contact with all of his former players he coached.
"I will follow all of their results and stay in touch with both of them through text messages, and they can always know I am just a phone call away if they need anything," Strathman said. "Freshmen have a lot to adjust to and it is not just basketball. They have a lot of demands on their time away practices and games. I help our former players in these situations any way that I can."
As for Robertson, she's enjoying her lifelong dream as a Sooner. A dream she and her late father has cherished all through her childhood in McPherson. She loves walking around campus and hanging around local spots in Norman. She also believes there's a comparison between OU and McPherson, knowing that they are both sports towns.
"I know in McPherson a lot of people are passionate and supportive of the sports scenes," Robertson said. "I feel that way is the same in Oklahoma too. Just on a bigger scale in college instead of High School. I still feel the same energy from it."
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports