Oregon State Women’s Basketball ushering in new era
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As the Oregon State women’s basketball team came out onto the court of their basketball practice facility for their annual media day, there were a lot of new faces, and a few notable mainstays that didn’t emerge from the locker room.
Gone is one of program’s all-time greats in Sydney Wiese.
Gone is defensive dynamo Gabby Hanson.
Gone is critical role player Kolbie Orum.
Gone is post presence Breanna Brown.
That group of seniors combined for a 114-26 overall record, including 61-11 in the Pac-12.
So the question is, how do you move on from such a legacy of success?
Head coach Scott Rueck, who has been one of the best coaches in the history of Oregon State athletics, notes that the team has to look forward.
“We lost a lot,” Rueck said. “For the last two years, we’ve lost nine significant contributors, and amazing people and players. But that is college sports. It’s all about who’s next up. This team is filled with winners who have watched closely what we have done. They understand what the expectations are.”
Guard Kat Tudor is expected to play a big role for the Beavers both offensively and defensively this season, and she likes where the team is right now.
“We are a young team and lost a lot of leaders,” Tudor said. “However, we are all improving every single day and we are all stepping into more leadership roles.
One of the players who is expected to take on a bigger role both on and off the court this year is sophomore sensation guard Mikayla Pivec. After having a solid freshman campaign last year, she’s ready to step onto the court as a leader.
“We lost some great leadership last year and it was cool to see how they interacted with the team and how they tried to instill their values,” Pivec said. “We are a pretty young team and everyone is trying to step into those new roles.”
When asked about what the expectations were for the season, Rueck added that this year, the Beavers have to continue to build on what has already happened over the past several seasons.
“The expectations are to come in and compete like crazy and build upon the culture that is already established,” Rueck said. “We’d love to win every game and every night, but who knows about that, it’s not something you can control, but you can control the way that you compete and if you do those things, typically wins follow.”
“It’s a new year since we lost the big players that we did,” Tudor said. “We are going to do what we do and Rueck is going to lead us to success and I know that all of us have so much heart for the game so it will take us far.”
Rueck, who just inked a contract extension through the 2027 season, this group is already showing him signs of being special.
“This team is amazing,” Rueck said. “It’s full of amazing people who chose us to be a part of what we do and be a part of our culture.”
The young Beavers were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 and will certainly have their work cut out for them in the uber competitive Pac-12 conference. OSU is ranked as the No. 17 team in the nation in the preseason coaches poll.
“(The Pac-12) is the best in the country,” Rueck said. “It has been the last two years and I don’t see that changing. I think it’s the best coached conference from top-to-bottom in the country no offense to anybody else, I just think it’s that good. You’re going to have an absolute war every night.”
In 2017-18, the Beavers will be gunning for their fourth straight Pac-12 title. It’s a tall task given the amount of losses that this group endured, but that is where the bar is set at in Corvallis for as long as Rueck is running the show.
“The goal is always to win,” Pivec said. “You can’t guarantee that it’s going to happen, but we know that the seniors and alumni of the past have set the expectation of success here at Oregon State. We will try and instill those values and build upon the foundation that was here before us. If we can win our fourth Pac-12 title, that would be our ultimate goal and we are working everyday to do just that.”