Greetings from up north, C & R! Yesterday, the Cardinal gave us a win that was hard fought and intense for a full 40 minutes. Oregon State was on the attack and showed that a program on the rise can draw a good crowd to a women’s hoops game, even on the same afternoon as the Super Bowl. The OSU faithful brought their kids and wore their orange fleeces into Gill Coliseum, an old-school gym with bleachers, rafters, and giant jock pictures on the walls. That crowd stomped its feet, clapped its hands, and stayed in the game until the final buzzer. After watching University of Oregon play last Friday, in the hush of a gleaming, but relatively empty arena, yesterday’s down-home contest was a breath of fresh air.
Whenever I watch the Cardinal play OSU, I see OSU coach, Dave Rueck, jog over to Coach Tara’s half of the gym to share an enthusiastic greeting. The guy is young, smart and hungry—excited to talk shop with the likes of a VanDerveer. He came to OSU three seasons ago as a Division I rookie, in the midst of a program-wide implosion and a rash of player defections. The leading scorer, the leading rebounder, and a handful of others had fled. Rueck was forced to hold an open try-out just to complete the roster. Kids from community college, kids working jobs three and four years out of high school, and one 47-year old showed up in practice jerseys. (I’m not picking on the 47-year old; I heard she was really good). What emerged was a freshman-heavy squad with only one player who had in Div. 1 experience. Three seasons later, Rueck has a stable of loyal fans, top Oregon recruits who were willing to forego offers from other schools, and last year’s Pac 12 Coach of the Year title.
Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike scored 32 points and pulled in 18 rebounds (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Amber Orrrange was Chiney’s foil. She added an assortment of perimeter jumpers and scored 12 points. She had three steals and converted one to a full speed, coast-to-coast lay-up. On another, in the second half, she snatched the ball, took it all the way down the court, drew in two OSU defenders deep under the basket, and then executed a perfectly timed dish to Chiney for the lay in. And perhaps most importantly, Orrrange had eight assists on the day, a sign of healthy communication between the perimeter and the paint. Bonnie Samuelson had four 3-pointers—two of which were scored in crucial back-to-back Cardinal possessions (snap!).
Toni K and Jos Tinkle added hustle to a great defensive effort. If we can squeeze some more consistent points out of them, we will be ready for tournament play. Final score: 65-45. Go, Cardinal. Go, Pac 12.
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