Keeping Score: Courtney Paris talks a big game

Courtney Paris is putting her money where her mouth is: Last week, the Oklahoma senior promised a national championship to her school, or else she’ll repay her scholarship.

“I feel like we’re not missing pieces. If we play hard, we execute, we are a great team that can win a national championship,” Paris said. “If we don’t do that, it won’t be because we’re not good enough. So when you’re good enough and don’t do something, then you have to take accountability for that and that’s your own fault. We can win a national championship. If we don’t, I’ll feel like I didn’t earn my scholarship.”

It’s certainly the most audacious claim I’ve ever heard from a college athlete, but it’s just so Courtney Paris: gutsy, assured, a wee bit reckless.

The Oklahoma Daily estimates that Paris’ scholarship is worth about $64,000. It’ll take more than a few extra Schrute Bucks on a WNBA salary to pay that back. But that’s kind of a moot point. I mean, it’s not like Oklahoma would actually let her pay back her scholarship, right?

The real question is, can Oklahoma actually back up Paris’ promise? Here’s the breakdown:

Yes: The Sooners are taking one of their best-ever teams to the tournament. They should pull a top seed. They’ve played well all year against other stellar programs. Courtney was just named Big 12 Player of the Year. It’s the Paris sisters’ final dance.

No: A Paris-led team has never made it past the Sweet 16. Shooting guard Whitney Hand will be out for at least the first part of the tournament. Without a threat like Hand on the perimeter, it’s harder to open up the paint for Paris. There’s something else, too. What is that other thing that could get in Oklahoma’s way? Oh, right: UCONN.

The Huskies have won every game this season by double digits; they routed Oklahoma last time they met; and — boy, I used to hate it when Geno Auriemma said this about Diana Taurasi — UCONN’s got a little something called Maya Moore. Something tells me she doesn’t care where Paris gets the money to repay that scholarship.

Either way, I think the challenge sets an exciting tone for the tournament. And even if Oklahoma doesn’t win the national championship, Courtney Paris has built an absolute legacy for them.

Do you think Paris can deliver? Do you think she’s justified in making that kind of promise, or do you think this is the time her smack talk is going to come back and bite her?

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