Ahead of their NCAA tournament kick-off, the 2021-22 season at the Oregon Ducks was determined by inconsistency.
At first, it was understandable with several key players suffering injuries early in the season. But even once the ducks became healthy in January, they never entered the leviathan, but some thought they had the potential to become one.
Those infractions came back to bite them when it mattered most, as No. 5 seed Oregon (20-12) suffered her first NCAA tournament exit under Kelly Greaves at the hands of No. 12 seed Belmont (23-7), 73-70 Saturday in a double Overtime in Knoxville, Tenn.
After the match, Graves took responsibility for the team’s failure to put everything together and not using the “correct triggers”. But as Oregon is still searching for an identity in the post-Sabrina Ionesco era, he also said he feels something is missing among his players.
“I think at times our players have played really well,” said Greaves. “I mean, we’ve done really well. We’ve got at least Sweet 16 every year since 2017. We’ve been out in the first round in a long time. This group hasn’t won anything. We haven’t won a buck. -12 championships. We haven’t won a The NCAA Championship in great depth.”
The Ducks advanced to the Elite Eight in 2017, Ionescu’s first year, and also in 2018 before making their first Final Four in 2019. The team was a national title contender in 2020 before the NCAA Championship was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once Ionescu and co-stars Sato Sabali and Ruthie Hebbard left for the then-WNBA, Oregon fell to Louisville at the 2021 Sweet 16. Only two players remained from the 2019-20 squad, both of whom were late to KC that year: Nayara Sabali And the Sedona Prince.
Things started getting tough this season when Nayara was a student T hina baobao and USC . transfer India Rogers They all fell due to injuries that kept them off the majority of Oregon’s no-conference list. On their return, the Oregon State showed its potential when the Ducks defeated Arizona, who advanced to the National Championship game last season, and traditional strength UConn within three days.
But signs of a possible early exit in the NCAA tournament have been around ever since, especially as Oregon struggles in the region and teams have usually caught Kelly Graves: Offensive (see: 50-point streak performances in early February). The Ducks lost five of their last 10 regular season games before losing to Utah in the Pac-12 semifinals.
In Knoxville, Oregon trailed by six in the middle of the fourth and managed to fight and force overtime thanks to Paopao 3. But once the Ducks advanced by six early in the first overtime and by four early in the second overtime, they couldn’t no You keep progressing late. Oregon went goalless in the final two minutes of the game, which culminated in Prince’s 3-point desperation attempt at the last bell that didn’t fall.
“I think we have to go back and work a little bit harder and be tougher,” said Greaves. “I think sometimes we’re not that strong. I think there have been times tonight — at one point you just say, ‘Hey, stress, let’s go.'” I know you messed up. Did not matter. We need you.’ I just think it’s happening, and I think it’s a mindset. I think we have to go back and get hungry because we are no longer chased. We chase like everyone else. “
Nyara made her turn on Saturday with 31 points (12 to 24 shots), 12 rebounds and 7 blocks, while sophomore T Hina Baobao added 18 points, but no other Oregon player had more than 9 points. 3s compared to 12 Belmont, and she made 17 turns compared to Belmont scores.
“We miss that alpha, and a lot of times if it’s coming from the coach, that leadership, we’re in trouble,” Greaves said. “We have the ability to drive and leadership shows from time to time, but that is consistency.
“If I had to sum up the entire season in one word, these are ‘contradictions’. Daily effort, game production, leadership, training. I didn’t do a great job. I wasn’t consistent either. Same with the staff.”
For Oregon to turn things around and run a deeper cycle next season, you don’t need to start from scratch. While Nyara is eligible for the WNBA draft, the rest of the freshmen can return, including Prince, who has said she will return to Eugene.
Graves earned a second-ranked ESPN recruiting category, too.
“We have to somehow either take care of that, recruit that, or empower it,” Greaves said. “We just have to do a better job.”