Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale knows Dawn Evans' story, and wishes she wasn't trying to figure out a way to usher her quickly out of the NCAA tournament.
But the sixth-seeded Sooners (21-11) will try to do just that on Sunday when they face Evans and James Madison (26-7), the No. 11 seed with the added benefit of playing just an hour from home."I wish I wasn't playing them, because I'd be for them," Coale said Saturday at Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena, where she hopes to begin a drive to a third straight Final Four.Evans, who is battling a rare kidney disease that will someday force her to get a transplant, is one of the nation's top scorers. Though Coale said Evans may be most celebrated for the wrong skills, Coale said."As complete of an offensive player that I've seen anywhere all year long," she said. "I knew she had crazy range and I know she could create and get to the rim, but I've been incredibly impressed with her ability to pass. That may be her greatest gift of all."Evans also has a nice history at JPJ.Last year, she scored 38 points to lead the Dukes to victory on Virginia's home court, and the following day was in the university's hospital being diagnosed with the kidney disease."That character is something you build a team, a season, and a program around," Coale said.Evans is hoping Dukes fans help give the arena a home-game feel."We've played so well in this gym, and it's always extremely important to us to have that fan base that we carry everywhere, and to be 45 minutes from JMU means a lot for us," the 5-foot-7 senior said. "We're gonna try to treat it like a home court game for us."Evans, who tried out for a national team with Sooners guard Danielle Robinson, said she developed a healthy respect for her game at the trials, and expects "a fun matchup."Robinson averages 18.4 points and rarely leaves opposing players thinking they had fun."This is going to be a tough matchup for us, and we're going to have to be clicking on offense because I don't think that we can shut down Danielle Robinson," Dukes coach Kenny Brooks said, noting that she is faster with the basketball than anyone he's ever seen."It's probably going to take a few minutes to get used to the speed," he said.