One of the biggest question marks entering the women’s basketball season for Oregon State was who would replace Marie Gulich in the post.
While the No. 8-ranked Beavers (7-1) have yet to find one player to fill that void, they have been successful using a four-person committee through the first eight games into the season.
And each brings something different to the position.
Senior Joanna Grymek started the first two games, junior Janessa Thropay got the nod in the next four and junior Maddie Washington has started the last two. True freshman Patricia Morris has also seen some limited action in a reserve role.
“It doesn’t really matter to me and I don’t really think it matters that much to them,” coach Scott Rueck said of who gets to start each game. “They know that they’ve got a job to fill that spot, and they’re doing it. We’ve done it to this point by committee and who knows how it will shake out.”
This multi-player platoon is something new for Rueck, but so far it has worked.
Rueck said all he asks is that each one continues to improve and be what the team needs.
As a foursome, they are averaging 15.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
“It’s an interesting thing not only for us but for our opponents to prepare for,” he said. “You’ve got four different looks that are going to come at you at a different point of the game. And they all play slightly different.”
The Beavers have also had to make adjustments on offense depending on who is in the court in that position.
“Now I’m seeing our team adapt to them and learn to play with each of them in a unique way,” Rueck said. “With Jo on the floor, OK this is the pass you throw to her, this is the pass you throw to Maddie, this is the pass you throw to (Janessa), this is the pass you throw to Trish.
“It just takes time.”
Dominating the glass
Oregon State may not have the height and size it has had in the past with the likes of Gulich and Ruth Hamblin, but the Beavers continue to be a strong rebounding team.
In the last two games, Oregon State has dominated in that category, outrebounding La Salle (68-22) and Santa Clara (63-16) by a combined 131-38.
Both performances set the Pac-12 record for rebounding margin (46 then 47) in a game.
At one point in Sunday's fourth quarter, Mikayla Pivec was outrebounding Santa Clara 13-12. All 11 players had at least two rebounds against the Broncos.
Pivec leads the way from her guard position at 9.4 per game.
“That has been a point of emphasis and this team has taken that to heart which proves their competitiveness,” Rueck said. “It’s so fun to coach a team that wants to be great and this team clearly wants to be great.”
Too many turnovers?
If there was one area to nitpick in Sunday’s blowout win over the Broncos it would be the 20 turnovers the Beavers committed.
It’s the most for a single game this season and the second straight game the Beavers have set a season worst in that category — they had 19 against La Salle in a 100-46 win..
Rueck blamed some of Sunday’s issues on Santa Clara’s zone, something the Beavers don’t see often.
He said the main cause of turnovers is decision making, something the Beavers have done well at most of the season.
“Turnovers come from obviously focusing on the wrong thing or being surprised by something,” he said.
Rueck said the Broncos typically extend their zone to the 3-point line and bring the bottom row higher than a lot of teams do.
“Because of that every catch is typically, hey I’m used to playing against a 2-3 zone and I’m used to being open,” he said. “Now I’ve got two people running at me so that causes some indecision and indecisiveness.
“So for us it’s just getting comfortable, it’s looking at each situation, learning from it and coaching their eyes. That’s the biggest thing I focus on is what are you looking at? We talk a lot about that.”
Five Pac-12 teams are in the top 17 of The Associated Press poll this week with Oregon State holding steady at No. 8.
Oregon, which was No. 3 before suffering its first loss at Michigan State on Sunday, dropped to No. 7.
Stanford (No. 11), California (13) and Arizona State (17) remained the same from last week as there was little movement in the top 20.
Utah and USC also received votes.
Texas A&M, who the Beavers will face on Saturday at the Maui Jim Maui Classic in Hawaii, received votes and would be No. 27.