Pitt Women's Notebook: Big Ben part of Sooners' fan base
Pitt's Pepper Wilson, right, works against Selena Nwude during practice yesterday in Oklahoma City. The Panthers play Oklahoma tonight.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma forward Carlee Roethlisberger knows that blood is thicker than water, so she's fairly certain that her famous big brother -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger -- will be rooting for the Sooners tonight even though they are playing a team from his city -- Pitt -- in a Sweet 16 matchup.
• Matchup: No. 4 seed Pitt (25-7) vs. No. 1 Oklahoma (30-4), approx. 10 p.m. today, Ford Center, Oklahoma City.
• TV/radio: ESPN2; WBGG-AM (970)
• Pitt: In the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season. ... 5-2 all time in NCAA tournament games. ... Senior Shavonte Zellous has averaged 27.5 points per game in the tournament. She has 729 points this season, a school record. ... Coach Agnus Berenato has 397 career wins.
• Oklahoma: In the Sweet 16 for the seventh time, but the Sooners are only 1-5 in Sweet 16 games and have not been past this round since the 2002 season. ... Beat No. 16 Prairie View (76-47) and No. 9 Georgia Tech (69-50) en route to Sweet 16. ... Leading player is center Courtney Paris, who averages 16 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. ... Carlee Roethlisberger, younger sister of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, is a reserve forward.
• Hidden stat: Oklahoma shoots 48 percent from the field but only 33 percent from 3-point range.
"Of course he's going to root for me," Carlee said yesterday with a laugh. "I mean, at least he better root for us! No, seriously, he's always been a big supporter of mine and he's always rooted for me and my teams to do well, so this will be no different."
Carlee Roethlisberger is only a sophomore and she is a reserve, but she has played an increased role late in the season because of injuries and she scored 18 points in the Sooners' first two NCAA tournament games.
"That's been nice, to start creating my own identity," she said. "I mean, I'm so proud of my brother and all he's accomplished and it never really gets old being referred to as 'his little sister,' but even he tells me, it is time to make a name for myself and accomplish some things on my own, and that's what I try to do."
Roethlisberger is not the only player with a famous last name and good bloodlines on the Sooners.
Two of the starters are Ashley and Courtney Paris, the twin daughters of William "Bubba" Paris, who was a standout offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers from 1983-1990. And junior reserve center Abi Olajuwon is the daughter of former NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon.
Also, starting guard Whitney Hand is the daughter of former major league pitcher Rich Hand, forward Carolyn Winchester's father, Mike, was a punter at Oklahoma and played on the 1985 national championship team, and forward Amanda Thompson's cousin is former NBA player Bryon Russell.
One other player with an interesting family tie -- guard Jasmine Hartman is the granddaughter of J.C. Hartman, a former Negro League all-star who later became the first African-American player for the Houston Astros (Colt 45's).
First Published March 29, 2009 12:00 am