Janessa Thropay was playing the best basketball of her Oregon State career when she injured her finger just before Pac-12 play.
The Beavers' junior post has missed all 12 conference games after undergoing surgery on the middle finger of her left hand.
It was obviously a disappointing development and one that was difficult to deal with at first. Thropay was averaging about 11 minutes a game and had made four starts while scoring 2.9 points and bringing plenty of energy to the court for the Beavers.
She didn’t want the injury to be a step back so she focused on staying as engaged as possible and to tried to keep in shape for when she was able to return to the court.
Thropay has been taking her physical therapy seriously and has been working hard to get in a position to play again.
“I’m obviously here for my team and it’s been great encouraging (them), but I definitely cannot wait until I can actually get on the floor again and give that energy and what I’ve been bringing this season,” Thropay said after Tuesday’s practice.
She is getting closer every day. Thropay suited up for the Stanford and California games last weekend but said she was a last resort.
“I was emergency status last week,” she said, adding that if everyone fouled out and the Beavers needed a fifth player she would have gone in.
“I think this week it’s going to be moreso maybe we can get her in there, maybe give her some minutes, stuff like that. We’ll see.”
Oregon State played its poorest game of the season last Friday night in a 61-44 loss at Stanford.
“We just never got comfortable and I feel like we didn’t approach it necessarily correctly just from a mindset standpoint,” coach Scott Rueck said Tuesday. “We weren’t aggressive, we were hopeful, which you can’t be against any good team. We needed to take it at them and we didn’t. And we just didn’t execute like normal and because of that we were on our heels the whole game playing from behind, which is hard.”
The Beavers, however, were able to bounce back with a crucial 82-74 win over California on Sunday.
“I think we turned that (loss) into a really gritty performance on Sunday and responded to the adversity completely differently and hit big shots,” Rueck said. “We were looking for that person to hit big shots and that wasn’t there against Stanford.”
It was good to get that poor performance out of their minds with back-to-back games against No. 3 Oregon on deck.
“I don’t think anybody on our team thinks the Stanford game is a true representation of us,” Rueck said. “I think that’s in the rear view so I don’t worry about that.”
On Monday night, the NCAA selection committee released what would have been the top 16 seeds to the NCAA tournament if the season had ended Sunday.
Oregon State was the last No. 3 seed and was placed in the Albany (New York) regional with No. 1 Mississippi State, No. 2 Connecticut and No. 4 Miami.
“If you look at what this team has done there’s no question that we’re there,” Rueck said. “If anything it ranked us lower than every other thing ranks us.”
There was some thought that with an RPI in the 30s and a strength of schedule in the 70s the Beavers may not have been one of the top 16 seeds.
“That would have been shocking,” Rueck said.
Last year, the Beavers were a No. 6 seed and had to travel in the first and second rounds. There is a bit of a difference this season.
“The Pac-12 is in some things ranked No. 1 and in some No. 2. Last year we were fifth,” Rueck said. “So when you know where the conference is then you can kind of predict where you’re going to be. I felt like we honestly should have been higher than we were in the reveal last night.”
While there is a game to be played on Friday first, the Beavers and Ducks will be on center stage on Monday as part of ESPN’s Big Monday.
The Beavers have been part of Big Monday once before when they hosted Arizona State in 2016, a 67-44 Oregon State victory.
“It’s a privilege,” junior Mikayla Pivec said. “It’s a testament to what the seniors have done in years past and how this program has done over the years. So it’s cool to be able to continue that.”
Getting to be a part of it at home is even better.
“This place is such a special atmosphere, everybody knows, everybody that plays here knows it, everybody comments on it,” Rueck said. “… The bigger the audience that gets to experience that the better for everybody.”
It’s both a blessing and a curse in some regards, however.
“It’s great, who doesn’t want to play on Big Monday?” Rueck said. “It gives us an extra day of prep but it shortens up the following week and takes away one day of practice before the following weekend.”