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SAN ANTONIO _ Sherri Coale was standing near the end zone at Oklahoma's Memorial Stadium before the first game of the 2001 football season when Kelvin Sampson, the Sooners' men's basketball coach, walked up to her.
"Coach Sampson came up and said, `I want to shake your hand; I've never shaken the hand of the No. 1 team in the country,'" Coale recalled with a smile.
Coale is coach of the Oklahoma women's basketball team, and a national publication had just ranked the Sooners No. 1 in the nation in its preseason poll.
Championship-caliber competition may seem like no big deal at a school that has routinely fielded top-notch football and men's basketball teams.
But at Oklahoma, women's basketball had been a …