Pac-12 Feature: Wiese finds new perspective

Oregon State Athletics

Sydney Wiese’s junior season didn’t go quite like she anticipated.

The Oregon State all-conference point guard sustained a hand injury and missed eight games in the middle of a season that is supposed to set new standards for the Beavers program. And coming back was a little more complicated than just hopping back into the lineup.

Wiese said she learned a lot by watching during those eight games, during which time the Beavers fell 62-61 at Notre Dame and 71-51 at UCLA, going 6-2 overall.

“It was a good opportunity for me to be a leader in a different way, to see things from a new perspective being on the sideline,” Wiese said. “I learned a lot. I had a lot of good talks with (freshman guard) Katie (McWilliams). She got really good minutes and gained a lot of experience, and everyone stepped up in a big way.”

Scott Rueck, in his sixth season as head coach of the Beavers, said that bringing Wiese back into the lineup after eight games – she was injured on Dec. 21 and returned to the lineup against Colorado on January 24 – was tougher than he anticipated.

“It was tricky,” Rueck said. “It might have been more difficult. When you are replacing someone in the lineup, that’s obviously what you have to do. But bringing her back, it was ‘How do we start this? Do we bring her off the bench? What’s the right thing to do?’”

Rueck said Wiese handled the transition back to the lineup well. But Wiese was coming back to a team that was playing great defense and Rueck said he talked to his point guard.

“She had to understand that our defense was winning us games,” Rueck said, whose team leads the country in field goal percentage defense at 32.0 percent.  “In order for us to win, she had to play better defense. She raised her level defensively because our team had.”

Rueck said Wiese’s return has raised the Beavers’ offensive game.

“She has really gotten us into the flow,” Rueck said. “She’s really moving the ball up the floor, getting us into the offense quickly. I think we really saw that over three days in Seattle [at the Pac-12 Tournament]. I feel like we have the best of both now.”

The 6-foot-1 Arizona native ranks second on the Beavers roster in scoring at 12.8 points a game, 5.8 rebounds a game and has a team-leading 117 assists. 

Rueck says his junior point guard plays with a flair that he has to harness from time-to-time.

“It’s a balance and we walk a fine line,” Rueck said. “I don’t want to control her too much. There’s a wild hare in her that wants to go and push and take a chance. But sometimes, we need high percentage shots and simple plays. Sometimes, Syd gets bored with that.”

Last season, the Beavers lost two of three games to close the season and then were upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Gonzaga on their home court.

Wiese said that winning the Pac-12 regular-season title and the tournament title is not enough for her team.

“I think the different mindset that we’ve had all year is just never relaxing and always staying hungry,” Wiese said.

Michelle Smith is a contributing writer for pac-12.com. She has covered pro and college sports for espnW, the San Francisco Chronicle and AOL Fanhouse.  

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