My favorite quote from the NCAA women’s basketball season so far this year comes from Oklahoma center Courtney Paris: “I met with Coach and we talked about me playing a little bit harder.”
This is the same Courtney Paris who extended her double-double streak to 100 on Sunday in a complete route of Arkansas State. Paris scored 19 points in the first half, and eventually ended up with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Paris didn’t break any NCAA records with her 100th consecutive double-double. No, she broke that record three years ago. Now, every game, she just moves the bar farther and farther out of reach for every player who comes after her.
After Sunday’s game, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale told reporters, “I thought Courtney was as good out of the blocks as she’s been all year. She really began the game playing hard and demanding the basketball.”
I think Courtney is as good on the block as any player in NCAA history. In years past, Paris has been overshadowed a bit by the players coming out of national championship-winning programs. This year, with the perpetual upsets among top 25 teams, the spotlight is hers alone.
She’s the only player, male or female, to have 700 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks in a season. She holds the single season rebound record (539). And, frankly, her double-double streak is the stuff of legends.
Two seasons ago, in Colorado, a reporter asked Coach Coale about Courtney having a tough night because she only had 17 points. Coale’s response was perfect:
You know, we got off the plane and on the bus and drove to our hotel here, and we’re all like, “Oh, my God, look at the Rocky Mountains! They’re incredible!” But how many of you guys who live here even looked at them today? You don’t even know they’re there. You’re so accustomed to them that you don’t appreciate them. I think we have to fight to not be numb to things that are fabulous, just because they’re right in front of us and we get used to them. What we have in front of us in Courtney is something none of us may ever see again.
If she keeps playing the way she’s been playing, there is no end in sight to her double-double run. The Player of the Year trophies are practically already on her shelf. Yes, Courtney Paris, do try playing a bit harder.