So Courtney Paris’ double-double streak has ended at 112, but Oklahoma looked very good in beating Tennessee 80-70 on Monday night here in Oklahoma City.
I know some fans (probably irritated Tennessee fans, especially) will look at the emotion Courtney showed after fouling out to end the streak and think it became too big of a deal for her. But that’s not her fault – no athlete can have such a streak and not have it come to dominate them to some degree. And it’s not because Courtney is an individually focused player. That’s the furthest thing from the truth.
Also, Courtney is not the kind of person who doesn’t notice how much the crowd responds to her. She was greatly touched by the cheers of the 12,000-plus at the Ford Center (mostly OU fans, but there were some Orange folks there in case Pat Summitt won her 1,000th game).
Afterward, what struck me most, though, was how emotional her sister Ashley Paris got about the streak ending, speaking of her pride in Courtney’s accomplishments. I wrote about it in my ESPN.com column http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/columns/story?columnist=voepel_mechelle&id=3880504 … what I didn’t mention there was that I actually got a little choked up seeing Ashley show such sisterly love. It’s just the sister thing – if you’re close to yours, you get why it hit me like that.
My friend, Daily Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson, also teased me, “You’re such a softy for the Paris twins.” It has been a joy to have these two terrific young women play here in a conference that I get to see in person so often.
The bond between twins – especially in women’s basketball – fascinates me. I have really closely followed the careers of three very successful sets of twins: the Burges at Virginia in the early 1990s, the Millers at Georgia in the late 1990s-early 2000s, and now the Paris sisters at Oklahoma.
Heather and Heidi Burge were funny and wonderfully kooky and very competitive with each other. As I’ve written before – but it still makes me laugh _ coach Debbie Ryan once joked that they both started talking from the second they woke up in the morning and didn’t stop until they fell asleep at night. They once got into a fight in practice and Ryan, disgusted, kicked them out. But you still knew they would have done anything for each other.
The Millers, still active in the WNBA, provide mirth because they are, well … kind of “Twilight Zone”strangely connected, at least to all of us non-twins. In college, especially, they were like the exact same person, times two. I’m sure to know them well, you could tell several differences … actually, I’m not sure of that at all. They both play every game like it’s pretty much their last moments on earth, and you’ve got to admire them for that.
With the Paris twins, there is more physically different between them than was the case with the Burges and Millers. And that was true even before Ashley’s trim-down this past summer. They are very similar facially, but not at all impossible to tell apart (even so, there have been quite a few times when the wrong twin was identified in a picture, something I know happened to us when I was with the KC Star.)
The Paris twins are both very, very bright and interested in a lot of things other than basketball. Like the Burges, they are native Californians. Also like the Burges, they are known for bossing each other around at times in practice.
“Today in shootaround, they were going after each other,” OU coach Sherri Coale said after the game Monday. “Like, ‘You were supposed to send her here!’ ‘Well, you didn’t do what you were supposed to do!’ ‘Well, I said switch.’ Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
“And yet, each is the other’s greatest champion. And now I’m going to cry. But being a mother, what’s better than to see that absolute love, support, admiration and encouragement you have for your sibling?”