After a trip back to the Sweet Sixteen, Oregon State lost a couple of key contributors in Katie McWilliams and Jo Grymek, but seem ready for another deep run. Currently, the team is in Italy as part of a bonding trip with some exhibition games. During this offseason Building the Dam’s John Severs and Leo Castaneda had a discussion about who might be in the next starting five.
JS: There are three big names we can slot in right away. Destiny Slocum will be back at the point, Mikayla Pivec will hold down one of the other guard positions, and Taya Corosdale will be at forward. That leaves two questions. Who gets that last guard spot, and who’s at the 5?
There are a lot of options for that starting guard position. One of the big questions for the Beavers this season is when will Kat Tudor be ready to return. Tudor has starting experience, starting every game of the 2017-18 season before taking a reduced role last year before her injury.
LC: If Tudor is out, the Beavers could go with Aleah Goodman in that third guard spot. She can focus more on being a scorer off the ball when she’s on the court with Slocum. I doubt this is ultimately what Coach Scott Rueck does since she is the primary option to backup the point, but she did start three games last year alongside Slocum and Pivec, though with mixed results.
It’s anybody’s guess who starts at the second frontcourt spot. I could see Coach Rueck plugging Madison Washington back into the starting lineup for her defense. She ended the year strong with three quality starts in as many NCAA Tournament games. Janessa Thropay could also get back into the fold after an injury shorted her season. She started four games early in the non-conference slate last year.
There also the possibility one of the freshmen coming in step up and take that spot.
JS: I don’t think you’re going to find a player to fill the exact role that Joana Grymek filled, but there are a few ways you can try to match her production. Maddie Washington could supply the same rebounding numbers Grymek provided given more minutes, and while she’s not the blocker Jo was, she’s still got a big defensive presence. She also has significant starting experience, having been in the starting 5 almost 20 times last year.
She’s not quite an elite scorer, and while I’m sure she’ll improve this year, I’m curious as to whether you think there’s a player on the team who could be a big post scoring threat. I’d love to see Andrea Aquino in that role if she’s healthy. She scored 17.1 PPG in her final high school season, and we know she can dunk.
Of the incoming recruits, I’m really excited to see what Kennedy Brown can do. She has all the tools to be an excellent offensive and defensive 4 or 5 a la Marie Gulich. With Brown, Taylor Jones, and Jelena Mitrovic coming in, it’s going to be interesting seeing this team move from perimeter focused scoring to having such an interior presence. I don’t think any of them will start right away, but I think there’s a good chance they all get significant looks early in the season, especially during the WNIT Tournament.
LC: It will be interesting how this frontcourt shakes out. I keep forgetting how much height is coming in! Aquino (6’9’’) will be making her debut after a redshirt year. Then the aforementioned Brown (6’6’’), Jones (6’3’’), and Mitrovic (6’9’’) have size too. Though I’m wondering if Mitrovic won’t be playing this year since it appears she suffered a leg injury a few months ago (according to her Twitter account) and afterwards was seen on crutches. She might be looking at a redshirt year.
As far as who may be able to be a scorer in the post, I think Brown has the ability to contribute there early on. I wouldn’t be surprised if she comes in and puts up some numbers on some of the weaker non-conference opponents. I think she’ll surprise people with her range. My next guess would be Washington. She came in last year with some Gulich-like moves that I hadn’t seen from her, so if she can make those shots a little more consistently, that could open up more opportunities for others.
So with all these post players that seem to be coming into the fold, do you think it’s possible that Rueck implements a line up featuring just two guards and then three forwards?
JS: I don’t know if we’ll see it right away, but that seems to be the way the team is trending at the moment. This team seems like it’s going to be extremely flexible unit. I think the season will start with 3 guards, with how good Slocum, Pivec and Tudor have been they’d be crazy not to, but if the new forwards are as good as they appear to be, we could see a very different starting at the end of the season.
To wrap things up, I think this is the starting five for the start of the season. Slocum, Pivec, Tudor, Corosdale, Washington. What about you Leo?
LC: My guess is close to yours with the exception of Tudor. If she was healthy, then I would definitely agree that she’s in there. Since I doubt she will be on the floor for the opener, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say there is going to be the third person in the frontcourt for the Beavers. It will be difficult keeping a McDonald’s All-American in Brown or someone with Aquino’s size off the court. My guess is we’ll see Brown out there with Pivec, Slocum, Corosdale, and Washington.