“You know, people always talk about how you’re going to know what the right college is for you because you’re just going to feel it, and when my mom and I visited Oklahoma University for the first time, we looked at each other and we were like this is it. This is the school for me.”
Nearly 11 years removed from her time with the Lady Sooners, and Indiana Fever guard Danielle Robinson can’t help but recall her team’s back-to-back Final Four runs in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2010.
“It was special,” Robinson replied. “To go to one Final Four is amazing, but to go back-to-back was incredible. Every year was different. Everyone’s journey was different, but we got there through all the ups and downs of the season. It was a different vibe, a different level of competition, just a different type of intensity.”
Robinson says her senior year and final tourney run in the 2010 NCAA Tournament still holds some of her favorite memories.
“There was game against Notre Dame in the second round and my teammate, Nyeshia Stevenson,” Robinson said with a sentimental smile. “She hit a shot with a Notre Dame defender right in her face, and nailed it, which sent us to regional semifinals to face off against Kentucky.”
“Then against Kentucky, we came out and they were killing us with their [defensive] press and [head] coach [Sherri] Coale was like, ‘do you want to just go start the bus?’ – and my teammate, Amanda Thompson was like, ‘just tell us what to do. Like, we don’t want to hear any of that. Just tell us what to do.’”
“From then on, it was like a turning point. We won by 20 that night.”
During Robinson’s time at Oklahoma, many fans felt that the Lady Sooners became their very best selves while playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Part of the reason was Robinson’s consistent leadership and competitiveness.
A two-time All-American while at OU, Robinson became just the fourth player in women’s NCAA history to cross the 2,000-point, 700-assist and 300-steal marks in a career (Nancy Lieberman, Dawn Staley, Courtney Vandersloot).
She was also a three-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection, a four-time member of the All-Big 12 Defensive Team and a finalist for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation’s top point guard.
“I look back and I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without those experiences and without those teammates and coaches. We were actually able to have a 10-year reunion last year and to look back on those times, you’re like, dang, we went through it at times, but we enjoyed it all for sure. There’s nothing like it and to able to have different teammates and people that are still in my life is something that I’ll never get tired of talking about.”
With so many young women currently experiencing their own journeys in this year’s NCAA tournament, Robinson just encourages all players to embrace the journey.
“Embrace the journey,” Robinson stated. “Every year is different. Every game and quarter is different, so make sure that you’re making the most of that opportunity because it’s special and not everybody gets to go to the tournament.”
“So, whether you play in one game, three games, six games, just enjoy and embrace that journey.”