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.
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.
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)
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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