I don't know how many of you have been following Cowgirl basketball, but it's still not too late to jump on board. The Pokes are an up-and-coming program in the Big 12. Kurt Budke's vision was continued after his death by his best friend Jim Littell, who has helped vault the Cowgirls to expectations of consistantly making the NCAA Tournament.
At the helm of the Cowgirls for the past four years was Tiffany Bias. She helped guide the team to a WNIT title and consecutive NCAA Tourney appearances. But this year, Littell's team is without Bias (who went on to the WNBA, winning a title with the Phoenix Mercury in her first season in the pros). Now, the Cowgirls are without an offensive power force.
Bias led OSU last season in points and scoring average (13.9 PPG), field goal attempts (12.4/G), free throw attempts (4.8/G) and free throws made. She was also second in steals (2.1/G) and averaged the most minutes played per game (there were several games where Bias played entire games and multiple overtimes with little-to-no rest).
Quick on her feet and a natural leader, Bias' presence on the court will be missed. Littell, however, has no fears about offensive and defensive production taking a toll without her, all thanks to Roshunda Johnson. From media day:
"Ro is a good point guard. She had big games last year at Purdue. She had 15 in an overtime loss to Baylor. She has a good skill set to her. She's got to get that high-intensity level at a consistency in her game every day. This has kind of been point guard university," Littell said. " You know, football was looked at for a long time as Tailback University and I think that's been a trademark of our team. Ro was a top 50 player coming out. As I said, she's got a very good skill set to her game. She can shoot the ball extremely well, has worked hard in the offseason and has some big shoes to fill."
Ro came into an immediate roll at Oklahoma State the moment she set foot on campus. Essentially, Littell was priming the young player to fill Bias' shoes when she left. Johnson averaged only 5.5 points per game last season, but recorded 37 steals and averaged a 30.8 three-point percentage (bested only by the insanely-deadly-from-beyond-the-arc Liz Donohoe). Her performances led to being selected to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
The Cowgirls are picked to finish fourth in the Big 12, but honestly, the league is wide open. Littell has repeatedly marveled at the parity in the conference. And he stressed on media day that a crucial key to the Cowgirls' success is Johnson at the point position.
She's proved her mettle time and time again during the course of last season. When Bias was in foul trouble, the point guard duties fell on Ro. She's made some big time shots in some vastly important moments, including draining the game-winning shot at TCU. She's vocal on the court, showing off her court vision and knowledge of the game of basketball.
And she has easily become the symbol for the future of Cowgirl basketball.