Will Skylar Vann play for OU in the NCAA Tournament vs. IUPUI? Jennie Baranczyk says 'it looks promising'

Ryan Aber

NORMAN — When Skylar Vann left the floor on crutches last Saturday after OU’s loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament, the chances of her playing in the NCAA Tournament — much less the Sooners’ opener — seemed slim.

As the week has gone on, though, Sooners coach Jennie Baranczyk has expressed more and more optimism that Vann would be able to go.

“We still are not 100% sure, but it looks promising,” Baranczyk said Friday afternoon before OU’s practice. “We’ll have more of an answer tomorrow on that, unfortunately, but it’s a lot more promising every day that goes by.”

Vann, OU’s second-leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, figures to be a key piece off the bench for the Sooners if they are to make a run in the tournament.

The No. 4-seeded Sooners open against No. 13 IUPUI at 9 p.m. Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.

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OU's Skylar Vann drives to the basket during practice Friday ahead of the NCAA women's basketball tournament in Norman.

Late night tip

Baranczyk understands the frustrations of OU fans on her team’s tip time for the game, especially as the mother of three children.

“They’re all going to have to nap and come in their pajamas, I think. We’ll have to get Oklahoma pajamas,” Baranczyk said. “I think that is a challenge just for our crowd and people who come from out of town, it’s a late night.”

The Sooners and Jaguars will be the last teams in both the women’s or men’s NCAA Tournaments to tip off, starting at approximately 9 p.m. 

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‘Beauty in the unknown’

None of the players the Sooners will have on the floor in Saturday’s game have played in the NCAA Tournament before.

But Baranczyk hasn’t made any grand speeches about her experience in the tournament or focused much on her team’s lack of postseason experience.

“Sometimes there’s a beauty in the unknown, and I think that’s really where we’re going," the first-year OU coach said. "There’s not, ‘OK, this is what this year was like,’ and so then you compare it to the next year. … We have no idea. I think sometimes there’s a really fun element in that, and that’s where we’re at.”

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IUPUI center Macee Williams gets ready to take a shot during Friday's practice.

Preparing for Williams 

The Sooners’ struggles with size have been no secret this season, as Baranczyk inherited a roster with little interior size and little room to add any immediately.

OU has generally been able to overcome that, though, with their pace and a heavier reliance on zone defense.

IUPUI presents a unique challenge with 6-foot-2 post player Macee Williams, a four-time Horizon League Player of the Year.

“She’s a smart player, and she’s patient with the ball, and her teammates kind of feed off of her energy and the things that she does for them,” OU’s Madi Williams said. “I’m interested to see how she compares to other bigs that we’ve played against.”

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OU announces NIL partnership

The OU athletics department announced a partnership with Altius Sports Partners to use the Altius’ NIL launch platform across the department.

The partnership includes educational workshops for OU athletes, coaches and staff on marketing, branding, financial literacy and recruiting, among others.

“Our commitment to the overall student-athlete experience at Oklahoma includes leveraging NIL opportunities, and teaming with Altius underscores that commitment,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a release. “Altius supports several preeminent schools, and we are excited to utilize the company’s expertise and resources to help us establish the best and most comprehensive strategy to keep up positioned for success in this space.”

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