Shocked and Awed! How Surprised are YOU with the Womens Basketball Team?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 55 Comments

Aren’t we all a little humbled from time-to-time with outcomes we thought we knew in advance turning out to be completely wrong? Oregon’s football losses to bottom-half teams is one of those head-scratching disappointments, and who saw Colorado being undefeated? Humble pie served to the prognosticators at both ends of the table!

This year’s Women’s Basketball team is another of those big surprises for me. It it did not start that way, as I knew Head Coach Kelly Graves would have a quality group. It is what the team is evolving into that has me truly in awe.

Disclaimer: I do not know jack about basketball. But I’ve sure enjoyed watching both the men’s and women’s teams get started this season. It is likely that many of you can offer more astute commentary, and I would invite you to so do. My surprise with this women’s team is not just with an individual player or two but with every player I’ve watched. The freshmen are better already than I would have anticipated they’d be at mid-season, and the returning upper-class players are giving me hope that a deep NCAA Tournament run is quite possible for this version of Coach Kelly Graves’s squad.

Erin Boley has escaped her typecast as a three-point shooter with a surprisingly complete game this year. She still shows great range, but as astute basketball analyst duckcardinal says, “she is really good in the wash below the basket coming up with the ball and scoring.” Taylor Mikesell had the credentials, but it was not until I saw her accuracy from outside that I realized what a superb shooting guard Coach Graves has brought in as a transfer.

Gary Breedlove

Nyara Sabally gets open in any defense…

Nyara Sabally is turning into a “Ruthie 2.0” only with greater shooting range. She is unstoppable at every distance on the floor, and her driving skills are something to behold. She had been injured, and we did not expect much, so the seemingly sudden emergence of her well-rounded game has been a very pleasant surprise. Meanwhile Sedona Prince has been talked up as an upcoming force in the paint, yet that full potential remains to be realized. It is as though Sabally and Prince effectively traded places in terms of living up to pre-season expectations.

Like all, I am very, very surprised with the emergence of Te-Hina Paopao, as she can be as good as any point guard in the nation between her driving, passing and shooting skills. In short, that starting five can play with anyone in the nation, and thus has a shot at as high a result as we can imagine. The skills from each of the starting five have surprised-the-heck-out-of-me, and thus I am now dreaming big for the Ducks Women’s basketball team.

Gary Breedlove

Te-Hina Paopao is a budding superstar who can already break down defenses early in her freshman year.

As duckcardinal explained to me, “Coach Graves has done a great job parsing out major minutes for the Fab-Five freshmen.” I agree, and these minutes have improved their quality of play and consequently my confidence in the freshmen coming into big conference games. I feel a second platoon of Taylor Chavez, Jaz Shelley, Lydia Giomi and two of the freshmen could beat half the teams in the country!

I had great fun debating another Oregon women’s basketball authority, 30Duck, as to whether freshmen Kylee Watson or Angela Dugalic is the better “big.” Both have shown flashes of extraordinary plays driving to the basket and battling for rebounds. We settled our gentlemen’s debate with the conclusion that it was a good-or-good type of answer.

In short, the Women’s Basketball team has surprised me on the upside as much as the football team has disappointed me on the downside. I’d be very curious as to what the basketball fans in this community think as well.

“Oh how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove

Phil Anderson, the Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Daily Articles NO MORE on FishDuck

Please see this explanation right here… and to learn about the impact of FishDuck on so many–check the summary right here.  I will be writing intermittently on FishDuck (as the mood strikes) this summer, and a couple of times a week during the football season, and those articles and analyses will be posted here on FishDuck, and the links to my articles will also be available on the new site PuddleHuddle, when it is up soon.

New at FishDuck? Learn about the site right here!

Our 32 rules can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

Take note though, there are NO STRIKES, NO WARNINGS, and NO SLACK given. Violate the rules and you are gone, as this is what the 99% who post superb comments want. (The Ban could be for weeks, months or permanent) For the less than 1% out there who do not have impulse-control … as you write your comment that violates our rules, ask yourself, “is this worth getting banned over?”

FishDuck members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Frozen Duck

I thought there would be some drop off from last years championship team. What amazes me is that Coach Graves is still tweaking his lineups while the team is playing together and unselfishly and at a very high level. I am so excited for what this team can accomplish this (rebuilding) year. Outstanding!


BTW: Say what you will about Clay Helton but….

Jon Sousa

…but a win is a win… is a win. I was sooooo rooting for UCLA.


I am not surprised, because I expect greatness from the women’s basketball team! I live a thousand miles away, so I can’t come watch, but damn they know how to represent our athletics at the highest level. Should have been champs last year.

Majorly off-topic, but for those of us parents of girls doing sports as they grow up, watching this literally brought a tear to my eye, and I ain’t going to deny it:


On the day we celebrate the Lady Ducks, let’s raise a cheer for the first woman to score in a Power 5 Game.


That is absolutely awesome! Love it, thanks for sharing as I hadn’t had a chance to see that yet. So stoked.


This is so great. 2020 has been bad for football in so many ways. But we get this!

David Marsh

Sumlin is out at Zona… I guess Zona did find the money after all.


Something great is that the WBB Ducks are at an elite level, but so young and deep. We have at least 4 more years of Sweet 16 or better teams ahead, even with a few transfers, medicals, etc. Coach Graves has set Oregon Basketball up for a longer haul. Watching the women appear. develop and deliver against the best will be fantastic. Go Ducks WOMEN!


Charles, great article on women’s basketbal I have said and still believe this year’s team will be better than last year’s team. Do not forget we have 6’8″ post Phillipina Kyei coming next year. We will have a 6’8″, 6’7″ 6’5″ and 2-6’4″ posts next year. Quite possibly the biggest team in the nation.


Cal @ WSU is canceled. Would anybody really be shocked if Arizona, who just got beat by ASU 70-7 yesterday, ends up in the Championship Game after Larry and his staff work it all out tonight?

Jon Joseph

Move the champ game back a week!

Jon Joseph

Oh well, CU’s outstanding LB goes down and it’s CU, CU.

Jon Joseph

So long Sumlin?

7-70 vs your rival? That is not conducive to keeping your job.

But there is that pesky $7M buy out to deal with.

Of course a similarly situated SEC program, South Carolina, came with $13M plus to can Muschamp and hire ‘baby Beamer,’ a guy with no G5/P5 HC experience. And Vandy came with the $ to buy out Derek Mason. BTW, some team is going to get an excellent DC in Derek Mason. Perhaps, Derek heads back to Stanford?

Sumlin is a guy who was terrific in the G5 and caught lightning in a bottle with Johnny Football, before dropping back in the SEC W pack.

But this is Arizona football. Is there a coach out there who can get this program to a Rose Bowl, other than when the Wildcats play UCLA?


It’s a game of “win or go home”.

David Marsh

The bigger question right now is does Zona have the money to get rid of Sumlin and make another hire? Especially this year with financial difficulties on all programs.

Jon Joseph

Exactly. And add in that the AZ basketball team is about to be sent to its room.


Thanks Charles, for highlighting what is arguably the best team the Ducks have! These lady Ducks are going to leave their webbed footprint on WBB for years to come.

It is amazing the level of pure talent Coach Graves has brought in. While it hurt our “rankings” to lose the big 3 to the first round of the WNBA, the reality is that this team could be just as good if not better. And a lot of them are only freshmen! That has gotta bode well for the future.

I too, am impressed with Te-Hina. While no one will ever be another Sabrina or come close to some of her records, I think Ms PaoPao is going to leave a pretty strong resume for herself.

The depth and talent of this team is going to be fun to watch as the forge their way to unrivaled success!

Oh how we love to watch our beloved Ducks!


Without a doubt the lady Ducks are the best show the University of Oregon has put out in recent history, and it looks like this year will be no exception.

What I really appreciate about watching the ladies is they play all out EVERY GAME. They are very consistent with their effort. They still make mistakes, like all athletes do, but they play with their hair on fire every single time they hit the court.

Wish I could say the same for the other Ducks sports I like to watch (football, mens bball and baseball). I just don’t see the consistent day in and day out effort from the mens sports over the past 5 years. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of what could be from these teams but it’s not a consistent effort.

On another note, without the Ducks playing today, I am rooting all out for the Oregon homeboy Sam Noyer and the Buffaloes. I really like their team and am adopting them as my rest of the season favorite. Now if the Pac 12 can pull their head out and have the Buffs play the Trojans in the conference championship game I would really have something to cheer about, as I would love to see Sam pick apart USC and play in the Fiesta Bowl.

Jon Joseph

How about Karl Dorrell? Among other good moves, Dorrell talked Noyer out of the transfer portal and turned a safety into a very good QB.

I really hope that CU can defeat Utah today. Then, I hope the conference does the right thing and moves the champ game back a week so CU can play SC next Saturday. And, if UW is COVID cleared, the Ducks can play the Huskies for the north title.

Go Buffs!

David Marsh

The Pac-12 do the right thing????

Usuly I’m the one who is putting that hopeful stuff out there Jon and you’re the one who swoops in with the reality of it all.

Yes… I agree it would be the right thing for the pac-12 to play another week at least of regular games and then do the conference championship game.

The pac-12 gave up on the playoff when they postponed the season and failed to restart the season the same time the B1G did. So the pac-12 just needs to do what is right for them and ignore the rest of the college football world this year.

Jon Joseph

Also David, the conference needs to feed as many games as possible to ESPN and FOX. The conference if all teams had played 7 games would have not come close to meeting its game inventory obligations.

Plus, there is a paucity of bowl games for the Pac-12. Would you rather see the Ducks play UW in Eugene or Army in Shreveport?


We didn’t get the football, but the Men’s basketball team looks to keep their winning streak in Seattle going. They haven’t lost their since 2015.

Santa Rosa Duck

and the Oregon women play at Oregon State on Sunday at 4:00pm. I cannot find any TV so hopefully it is live streamed.


It’s on Pac12 Networks

Santa Rosa Duck

Charles, you are strong on womens basketball, who knew? The women are really fun to watch. Kelly Graves has created another strong team and this is the definition of reloading rather than rebuilding.

Off topic: Watching College Game Day this morning, Kirk Herbstreit said something to the effect and I paraphrase “The Pac 12 is a Power Five conference but the All American Conference may be stronger”.


Kirk might be right. Thank you Larry Scott. I’m beginning to start blaming the Pac-12 schools for not doing anything about the conference leadership and holding them accountable. There come a time when enough is enough and you have to take action. IMO we have passed that point.


Women’s BB has become the go to event for me over the last 3+ years. The fundamentally excellent basketball is really fun to watch. The only problem I see on the horizon will be all the new players getting enough minutes to stay happy and committed. Coach Graves and staff have done remarkable recruiting and teaching. Watching them play together as a team is a sight to behold. Thank God for the pac 12 network


“The fundamentally excellent basketball is really fun to watch”
That is what has won me over to watching our Lady Ducks!

“Watching them play together as a team is a sight to behold”
Which takes us back to the first quote!

If Dana’s men can learn from the women…………… out.


I think men’s basketball is faced with more difficulties than woman’s in that men players are much more open to transferring then woman players. Having stable players makes it easier to “develop” players where in men’s basketball the turnover is much larger so the coach has less time to “develop” players.

Coaching men’s vs woman’s is much different.


What is really impressive about what Graves has done with the Women’s team is that they were the Vandy of SEC football in the Pac-12 of Women’s basketball when he took over. 100’s of people in the stands, probably friends and family, and now? One of the elite teams in all of college basketball.


They want to finish what was rightly theirs. Wouldn’t it be sweet to watch these young ladies bring how the title last years squad deserved.

This would, of course, happen with the alumni on the sideline enjoying the moment more than anyone.

Jon Joseph

OT – This was a fun and interesting take Charles, thank you.

Pitt has joined BC in rejecting a bowl game this season.

Should Oregon accept a bowl bid? A number of sites have the Ducks heading to Shreveport, LA to play Army. I cannot imagine the players being fired up about tripping to Shreveport, being confined to a hotel room and having to continue with COVID testing?

THIS would be a reward for Oregon players, coaches and fans?

I say, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ Let ESPN scramble for another opponent. How about Louisiana or LA Tech?

Jon Sousa

Well, for a first, you did fine!


I would think a school would jump at anything that would offer them a way at making money, even selling cookies on the corner.

Jon Joseph

I think the only bowl game that would assure a profit for the Pac-12 participant in 2020 is the Fiesta Bowl?


I agree with you Jon. Just say no to bowl games this year.

Lick your wounds and try to come back stronger next year. This year is a bust for so many reasons.

Jon Joseph

Hats off to Coach Graves!

He appears to have done an excellent job coaching up young, new starters, integrating them into a winning system, and producing a winning team.


Yep. Chip’s tenure was a rising tide that lifted all boats.


It was entirely reasonable to have Arizona & Stanford picked 1 & 2 and Oregon 3rd before the season started. The Wildcats & Cardinal are experienced and talented teams. But it would hardly be a longshot if you bet that Oregon would finish on top of the standings for a 4th straight season.

The Big 3 are gone, so their’s no pick & roll between Sabrina & Ruthie. Nyara isn’t the smooth operator her sister Satou was, more of an unstoppable force, 9-9 in a game earlier this season. Sedona Prince injured her ankle against Colorado. She might miss the OSU game this Sunday. But the Lady Ducks will be fine.

No team in the country goes as deep as does Oregon. It truly is becoming a problem for Graves to settle on a starting 5, to give them time on the court together to develop the rhythm and continuity necessary for a deep run.

The offense is more wide open than it was last season without the Sabrina to Ruthy combination and Boley has been the impetus . No longer tethered to the 3 point line, she’s driving to the basket, taking mid range shots as well as finding teammates with passes that turn in to assists, There probably won’t be a triple double this season from a player because they’re all so good at everything!


Graves & staff have done a remarkable job with off season logistics in the Covid era. Despite significant turnover (7 of 13 players departed via graduation or transfer), training/meeting/living restrictions, and many schematic tweaks to fit the current players, the team has played like they had a full European tour together to get up to speed.

The cumulative court savvy of the five freshmen is impressive, and to this graybeard viewer, unprecedented in the women’s program, even surpassing the transformative class of 2016-17. Doubtlessly, the selflessness of the returning players has had a significant impact on this, but these young women arrived ready to play!

So far no relentless defensive stopper like Minyon Moore has emerged, and, Sabrina was Sabrina. However, the quality depth of the current team is striking, and perhaps uniquely suited for the challenges that a season of dealing with Covid may present.


“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”, The woman’s basketball team was good last year and only getting better this year. How can that be you ask ?? – – – Good recruiting and good coaching.

Football, not so much.

Jon Joseph

Shocking! Young, highly ranked recruits can actually be coached up to play winning ball? Who knew!


Graves was recently quoted that he wouldn’t say “no” to coaching a men’s basketball team.

If he stays with us could he succeed Dana? Would be be successful?


Yep, football has had good recruiting…..the coaching should be there, but something is amiss I am afraid. Effort is a variable that may be missing when comparing the women’s and men’s teams in general.