Golden Eagles Hold First Practice of 2012-13
“Our first practice went really well,” Cussen said. “We had some first-practice jitters both with the players and with our new coaching staff, but the girls brought great energy and we had a lot of fun.”
ORU returns eight letter winners from last year’s 20-win campaign, including three-time All-American Kevi Luper and two-time All-Summit League selection Jaci Bigham. Former Summit League Sixth Woman of the Year Savanna Buck joins Luper and Bigham to form ORU’s senior class.
“I am so proud of these three seniors, and we are going to rely on them quite a bit this year,” Cussen said of the veteran trio. “They’ve had fantastic careers already at ORU, but getting to the NCAA Tournament for the first time would be the icing on the cake for that class.”
“They have done everything that has been asked of them,” Cussen continued. “And they had a great showing yesterday in our first practice.”
Monday’s practice was the first for redshirt freshman Emma Gade since December 15, 2011, when she tore her ACL in a game against Grambling. Gade had worked her way into the starting lineup prior to suffering her season-ending injury.
“Emma’s shot looks great, and I think she’ll definitely contribute in a scoring role for us this year,” said Cussen. “Her offseason workouts, especially when she was out injured, have helped her out tremendously, and I think she will play a big role for us this year.”
Velkey, a 5-9 point guard, starred for Hungary over the summer at the FIBA U20 European Championship, where she won a bronze medal. Shawnee’s Cooper and East Central’s Achilefu were each OSSAA All-State selections during their standout prep careers.
“Our freshman did a great job in their first practice,” said Cussen. “I am excited for all three girls, who I think will play important roles on this year’s team since we only have 11 active roster members.”
ORU opens their first season as members of the Southland Conference on October 29, when they host Harding University in exhibition action. The regular season begins on November 9, when cross town rival Tulsa invades the Mabee Center.