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Looking Ahead: Oregon State Women’s Basketball Preview

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A way too early look at next season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Long Beach St. at Oregon St. Statesman Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Oregon State women’s basketball season ended a couple weeks ago, and since then Sydney Wiese was drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks and Breanna Brown has transferred. Gone with Wiese and Brown is the rest of a class that won three straight Pac-12 regular season titles and went to four straight NCAA tournaments. That means next season will mark the start of a new era in Beavers WBB. Let’s take a peek at what next year might look like.

Departures

All of the departing seniors were key contributors this past season, so it definitely hurts to lose four of them at once.

  • Sydney Wiese - The do-it-all point guard was a four year starter, four year All Pac-12 selection, and a senior All-American. Her step back three still haunts the dreams of many Pac-12 defenders. I’m sure I heard a rumor that her headband will be retired and raised to the rafters at Gill next season.
  • Gabriela Hanson - Gabby took on more of an offensive role this season, but it will be her hard nose defense that will be missed most. Her lockdown skills were best seen against Washington’s Kelsey Plum, who was just selected number 1 overall in the WNBA draft, in what was a crucial early season conference win.
  • Kolbie Orum - Getting bumped from the starting five early in the year could have derailed the redshirt senior’s season, but she ended up being one of the go-to players off the bench and showed a soft hand finishing at the basket. Orum did not play much prior to her senior year, so her contributions as the player first off the bench was a welcome surprise.
  • Breanna Brown - Though just a redshirt junior this last season, Brown will be graduating this year and made it known towards the end of the season that she would be looking to transfer where a grad program better suited her potential career. She cracked the starting lineup partway through the season and her energy was infectious. Her heart, defense, and right amount of nastiness will be sorely missed.

Key Returners

  • Marie Gulich - The 6’5’’ post player for the Beavs returns for her senior year after her first All Pac-12 season. Though she was primarily a scorer down low, at times she made teams pay for not respecting her shot from the elbow. I anticipate that if other players can do just enough offensively to give Gulich room to work with, "Das Hammer” may be in for an even bigger year.
  • Mikayla Pivec - The guard from Lynnwood showed why she was the Washington state player in flashes during her freshman year. Look forward to her carrying more of the offensive load, driving into the lane and finishing strong, or dishing it out to an open teammate to finish the play.
  • Katie McWilliams - Expectations were high for the South Salem standout going into her sophomore year after filling in as an emergency point guard her freshman year when Wiese was out with an injury. She struggled early on offensively in her sophomore year, but she still managed to utilize her length to make great defensive plays (look at the end of first Civil War game) and did demonstrate more accurate passing towards the end of the season.
  • Kat Tudor - Right away, Tudor showed that she could be a thorn in defenses’ sides with her quick release from three-land. Expect the sharp shooting Stockton native to take on a bigger role in next year’s offense.

Arrivals

  • Taya Corosdale, F - The Beavs snag a five star recruit from the Huskies own backyard. She’s the highest rated player (#27 overall according to ESPN) of a very good recruiting class for the Beavs. Since Brown has announced her transfer, perhaps the 6’3’’ Corosdale can fill the vacant forward spot.
  • Aleah Goodman, G - The leader of 5A powerhouse La Salle (winner of two of last three 5A Oregon state titles) makes her way down to Corvallis after an amazing high school career. Another ESPN Top 100 (#63) recruit and multiple 5A Oregon State Player of the Year arrives at a crucial time. Could she make an early impact and lessen the sting of losing Wiese?
  • Joanna Grymek, C - The 6’8’’ (yes, that’s correct) center from Poland wrapped up her junior college career as a Third Team All-American. She averaged more than three blocks a game to go along with 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Look forward to the OSU coaching staff to refine Grymek’s game and get her ready for the Pac-12.

Key Questions

  • Who starts at the point? - There will be a new floor general in Corvallis, but who will it be? The likely candidates will be McWilliams, Pivec, and Goodman. Of the returning players, McWilliams has the most experience running the point for the Beavs. At times she didn’t look comfortable, but she can distribute well and play defense. Pivec ran the point at Lynnwood during her illustrious high school career carving up opposing defenses, but mostly played at the two during her first OSU season. Goodman joins the Beavs after an impressive high school career where she was the leader of the best 5A girls basketball team. She can pass, shoot the three, and drive to the basket. One of these three needs to step up and take it. I think Pivec ends up here as her ball handling skills and strength to drive inside suit her well for the point, but don’t be surprised if Goodman ends up playing alongside her at some point.
  • Does the defense continue to roll? - Coach Scott Rueck has made a living with his team defenses, finishing with defensive statistics near the top of the conference and country the last few years, so I expect next year will be no different. The Pac-12 defensive player of the year award has gone to OSU players the last 3 years, but with Hanson gone, the role of shutdown defender is vacant.
  • Which of the newcomers make the biggest impact? - It could be Goodman if she can steal the starting point guard spot. Corosdale has a good chance to make an impact as she steps into the forward rotation, depleted by the departures of Orum and Brown. Though she will probably need some polishing, I think Grymek may have the most immediate impact due to her size and shot blocking ability.

What to Expect

The conference of champions will be a grinder yet again. UCLA returns their star duo of Jordin Canada and Monique Billings. Stanford and Tara Vandaveer can never be counted out. Then there’s Sabrina Ionescu leading the team (that shall not be named) down south. Those three teams along with OSU will likely be battling it out at the top of the league next year. Also don’t sleep on California as they return a ton of talent, particularly in Kristine Anigwe.

Last year the pre-season polls anticipated OSU to drop to the middle of the Pac (they were wrong), and I expect those polls to say the same this next season. For the Beavs to have a successful season and stay on top, they will need someone to step up and take that point guard position, Gulich to become more confident, and get the bench to contribute consistently.