Trading Places Monday with Annie M. Peterson, November 11, 2019

Taking a break from your regularly scheduled programming to stand in awe of the Oregon Ducks

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This is just a one-time thing, and just for fun. But it’s because I am in Oregon, and I’m going to be covering waaaaaayyyyyyy more women’s basketball this year than ever. I’ve got two teams ranked in the top 10 in my beautiful home state.

My hoops-heavy future was made even clearer on Saturday, when the top-ranked Oregon Ducks beat the Team USA, becoming just the second college team to ever beat the national team.

Here’s AP’s story, written by our esteemed women’s basketball writer, Doug Feinberg. BTW guys, I’m a huge fan of Feinberg’s work. This guy RULES his beat while also working on the editing desk in New York.

Sabrina Ionescu scored 25 of her 30 points in the second half in the 93-86 victory, because of course she did. I’ve been watching Ionescu her entire career. She comes up big in big moments.

OK, so what does this mean? Kelly Graves, while excited about the victory, seemed to downplay it. Guessing that’s because he doesn’t want it to make his players believe they are invincible, because that can spell disaster. You know, the whole: The bigger they are the harder they fall.”

“It’s one game, it will be forgotten, it isn’t even on our record,” Graves said afterward.

But I don’t really think that’s a danger for the Ducks and especially Ionescu. If anything, now that the nation’s eyes are on them, I believe Oregon will be inspired to prove they deserve it.

I covered Oregon State’s season opener while the Ducks were celebrating the big win, and my friend Steve Gress, the wonderful sports editor for the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald, said he thinks the Ducks are going to win it all. Bold prediction, sure, but Gress knows his stuff. Follow him on Twitter at @stevegress19.

I felt a tinge of guilt that I wasn’t at Oregon’s game, but I’m in Eugene today for the Ducks season opener.

I was able to see the Beavers beat UC Irvine handily. It was my first chance to see Taylor Jones, Oregon State’s fabulous freshman. While most of the attention will go to the Ducks this year, the Beavers are really fun to watch, too. And with 6-foot-4 Jones and 6-foot-6 Kennedy Brown — both freshmen who started on Saturday — The Beavers are going to be good for the foreseeable future.

I asked Oregon State Scott Rueck about expectations and the delicate dance you sometimes have to do as a coach. It applies not only to the Beavers, but likely to the team down the road, too. Heck, it can apply to managing expectations with any team, any sport.

“This is a group that wants to win every night,” Rueck told me. “And those those rankings, those accolades, if you look at all the watch lists that Destiny (Slocum) and Mik (Mikayla Pivec) are on, let alone the ranking that our team has, it’s all noise, it’s all what you would assume. And so it just feels like it’s part of what we do. So you you can’t focus on it, you just focus on the next possession. And that’s all that matters. And we talked about that actually before the game tonight. I brought that up, not the ranking necessarily, but the expectations. And tonight, the journey starts. You know, this is the first game — we’ve played seven before tonight, including our Italy tour. But this is the first one that counts. And the only way to deal with that, is to worry about the next possession and prepare yourself for the next one, and put everything you have into that possession. And so, rankings, I love them, because that’s where you want to be.”

Well said.

Oh, and by the way, here is my favorite picture of Sabrina, which I snapped last season.

We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming next week. Thanks for indulging me, and thanks to Howard Megdal for all he does, especially for putting up with me and my silly whims.

(Editor’s note: it is an honor to indulge Annie’s flights of genius.)

And with that on to the links!

This Week in Women’s Basketball

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Gonna be brief here cuz I gotta game to cover.

AP rankings are out: Of course the Ducks stay on top, without even playing an official game. Also Feinberg takes a look at the women’s basketball landscape this week.

UConn and Louisville are next for the US Team

Since this is my first time here: High Post Hoops rocks!!! Click there.

Richard Deitsch for The Athletic is always a worthwhile read. And this from Dorothy Gentry on Skylar Diggins-Smith is very good.

ESPN makes its predictions for the season. And this on the top storylines of this season.

Tweet of the week

Five at The IX: Postgame With THE DUCKS

Here are the Ducks after the historic win!

Ionescu: I practice those kinds of shots a lot. So I wasn’t nervous really about the distance. I knew there was about five seconds left on the shot clock and I thought the shot open o I took it and it ended up being a good shot.

Ionescu: I think, before the game and the week leading up to it, watching the other games, I mean, we knew they’re the best the best team in the world, the best players in the world. So we were just going to try and stay within 20. And then as the game started and even before the game, we’re like, Let’s just give it our best shot and see where we are. Let’s not worry about the score, let’s not worry about winning or losing. Let’s just play Duck basketball.’ As the game continued to go on, we kind of forgot about who they were and what the expectations were of them beating us. And we were just trying to play our game and play it to perfection. And I think a lot of people stepped up big tonight, including our freshmen and our returners and even Minan Moore.

Hebard: We really just focused on boxing them out. We know they’re big, strong girls. So putting a body on someone, even if I don’t get the rebound, having Satou and Sab coming in and crashing, it’s definitely going to help us. And I mean, pick and roll isn’t working, so you’ve got to get it together. So, I mean, it’s just fun to be able to see it continue to work together.

Sabally: I mean, we came into the game thinking, yeah, we have a shot at this. We know we’re good, but obviously we’re staying humble about it and we know we’re not just gonna come out there and beat them by 20. But I think every team has to, no matter who you are, go into a game very confident and like don’t think anything crazy. But then as the game proceeded, we just kind of balled really well. And then the shots were falling. And then throughout the game, we were like, oh, we can really win this game. Let’s go.”

Ionescu: Diana told us to stay mad. That was what we said before the game, at halftime. We didn’t want to come out complacent. We didn’t want to come out excited that we were only down four it half. And so we came down in that third quarter and we came out hard, and we stayed mad just like she had told us. So thank you to her for helping us with that win. (Laughs).

Ionescu: I didn’t think I did enough in that first half of offensively. I think I was a little bit tentative. And so I got to two quick ones at the end of that second quarter and kind of saw the game change in the floor. The floor opened up and the game, kind of slowed down for me and my teammates. And so at halftime everyone told me to keep shooting it and be confident and get in the paint. And so in that third quarter, I just continued to try and attack the rim. And if they weren’t going to stop me, I was gonna get to the rim that my teammates made great shots and put me in a position to score.

Ionescu: There were a lot of positives that we are gonna take from this game, but there’s also a lot of a lot of negatives that we need to improve on and work on because, I mean any team that’s going to watch that game is gonna be able to try and pick us apart and do what they did. So we’re gonna have to continue to learn on the defensive end, take care of the ball on the offensive end, and continue to get better each and every game.

Ionescu: Maybe people think, you know, there’s targets on our back, but I don’t think we played like it. I don’t think we we even think about it. We’re just trying to be the best that we can every day on and off the floor. And as long as we believe that and everyone on the team believes that, I don’t think there’ll be a problem.

Sabally: I wasn’t really thinking about anything, I was just thinking about making those shots. I just stay focused, I’m always in the zone and everything just flies by. But as soon as the game stopped were like, Oh my God, what just happened? We’re were asking ourselves and just celebrating.

Ionescu: You can’t really put a word on how valuable that was for all of us, for our coaching staff and for everyone, just to see how excellence is. And being on the same court as some of those players, I’d never dreamed about or imagined. I mean, all of us grew up watching them on TV, watching them compete at the highest level and doing it day in and day out. And some of those players have been playing for years, have won gold medals in the Olympics. And so just being able to touch the same ball that they do is is a blessing for me and I know for my team as well.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Stephanie Livaudais, @Livaudais
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by The IX Team