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WBB: Day One Practice Report

Oct 2, 2013

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The 2013-14 Oregon State women’s basketball season officially got underway on Tuesday afternoon, as the team took part in its first practice of the year in Gill Coliseum.

“Day one of practice is a day we look forward to for a long time,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “This is a group I’m really excited about. To know our season is underway and that it’s a two-and-a-half hour workout where we’re going to be challenging the team, seeing what they’re made of and testing them in ways we haven’t had the opportunity to yet was great. I loved the competitive spirit and everything I saw today.”

The 11-member squad ran through several drills during the session, covering everything from the basics to more specific offensive and defensive principles. The practice was held in Gill so the OSU Basketball Center could be prepared for Thursday’s Tip-Off Dinner.

A young team this season, the Beavers will feature nine underclassmen alongside the elder stateswomen of senior Alyssa Martin and junior Ali Gibson. That duo, which has started each game of their Oregon State careers, will be relied upon for leadership and guidance, especially as the team’s four freshmen acclimate themselves to the rigors of Pac-12 women’s basketball.

Martin returns to her team as the Pac-12’s active leader in 3-point field goals with 127, which is third all-time at Oregon State. Gibson isn’t far behind, with 96 career makes from deep, tied for seventh in OSU history.

“As an upperclassman I’m trying to take more of a leadership role,” Gibson said. “Obviously this is Alyssa’s senior year and we want to win for her. She’s been here three years and she deserves that. I feel like taking the freshmen and sophomores under our wing and telling them what we’ve been through, both the successes and failures, can help us accomplish great things this season.”

Combining that experience with another one of the nation’s top recruiting classes has increased the enthusiasm and expectations for Oregon State women’s basketball.

A year after landing a recruiting class ranked as high as 17th in the nation, Rueck and his staff has brought in another highly-regarded group to Corvallis in Breanna Brown, Gabriella Hanson, Kolbie Orum and Sydney Wiese. Brown and Wiese are the third and fourth top-100 recruits to choose the Beavers in the last two seasons, joining current sophomores Jamie Weisner and Samantha Siegner.

“We’re really excited about our freshman class,” Rueck said. “All four bring such dynamic backgrounds, a couple of them have international experience and they’ve all won a lot.”

The aforementioned six join a quartet of sophomores that played a big role on last year’s OSU squad in Weisner, Siegner, Ruth Hamblin, Deven Hunter and Khadidja Toure. That group, led by the Pac-12 All-Freshman performer Weisner, was responsible for nearly 50 percent of the Beavers scoring a year ago and only look to get better with a year of experience under their belts.

Those five will also be counted on to apply the lessons learned last year to the success of this team. Rueck believes that experience will also pay dividends in terms of leadership in 2013-14.

“When you only have one senior and one junior you obviously point to the two that have been here the longest for leadership,” he said. “But what I love about this group is that it’s coming from everywhere and there are certainly times for each person to step up. I love the example our upperclassmen are setting. Our sophomores went through so many things last year that they’re displaying it too. This is a highly-functioning group of mature 18-22 year-olds. That is what is attracted to Oregon State and our program and that is what I believe we have now.”

OSU will look to improve in a couple of specific areas mentioned on Tuesday, rebounding and offensive mentality. Four of the conference’s top five rebounding teams from a season ago all earned trips to the NCAA Tournament. Rueck also wants to be able to field a lineup of five that wants to put pressure on a defense.

Both goals seem to be feasible, as Oregon State returns more than 75 percent of its offense from a season ago, including its top three scorers. Defensively in 2012-13, the Beavers were 16th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a school-record 34.6 percent from the floor, and 11th in the country and first in the league in blocks per game (5.5).

Twelve regular-season games will be televised on the Pac-12 Network in 2013-14, highlighted by a Dec. 29 home game against Notre Dame. The season starts with an exhibition against Saint Martin’s on Saturday, Nov. 2 and the regular season tips off against Corban on Friday, Nov. 8. Single-game tickets and special packages will be available on Monday and can be purchased by visiting www.beavertickets.com, calling 1-800-GOBEAVS or visiting the Oregon State Athletic Ticket Office located in Gill Coliseum.

Below are quotes from the first official practice of the 2013-14 season.

Head Coach Scott Rueck

On impressions after the first practice…
“Day one of practice is a day we look forward to for a long time. This is a group I’m really excited about. So the first opportunity to get on the court, know our season is underway and know it’s a two-and-a-half hour workout where we’re going to be challenging the team, seeing what they’re made of, testing them in ways we haven’t had the opportunity to yet and seeing where leadership is coming from was great. I loved the competitive spirit and energy. We’re a young team so we have to learn at a high level and we have to learn quickly. We’re dependent upon leadership for that. I loved everything I saw today and it was a great day in Gill.”

On where leadership will come from this season…
“When you only have one senior and one junior you obviously point to the two that have been here the longest for leadership. Alyssa Martin has been a three-year starter for us, been through everything and seen it all. We’re dependent on her leadership, her guidance and her example. Ali Gibson is starting year three here and a two-year starter for us who has made so many big plays for us over the past couple of seasons. But what I love about this group is it’s coming from everywhere. There are certainly times for each person to step up. I love the example our upperclassmen are setting, but our sophomores went through so many things last year that they’re displaying it too. This is a highly-functioning group of mature 18-22 year-olds. That is what is attracted to Oregon State and our program and that is what I believe we have now.

On the freshmen class…
“We’re really excited about our freshman class. All four bring such dynamic backgrounds, a couple of them have international experience and they’ve all won a lot. Gabby Hanson comes to us from Troy High School and has played with the Swedish National Team in her age divisions. She’s a dynamic, versatile guard that can play the ‘1’ through the ‘3’ for us. Sydney Wiese out of Arizona, the Player of the Year in the state, is a combo guard. She can play the point or the wing and is one of the best shooters in the country. I don’t want to put pressure on her, but she is. Kolbie Orum brings toughness to us from Maple Ridge High School in British Columbia and international experience, playing for the Canadian National Team in her age group. She can play the ‘4’ and the ‘5’. Bre Brown comes from Bishop O’Dowd, which won at an unprecedented level in California the last couple of years. She’s just a fantastic defensive post player that has all the tools to become an elite center in the Pac-12. I’m really excited about all of them and have seen a lot of great things already.”

On what this year’s team needs to improve on…
“I think defense is one and I think having five scorers is another. We need five people that want the ball and want to put pressure on a defense. I don’t think we had that a year ago and I think we struggled because of it. We need to score more points, but you can’t do that if you don’t have the ball and that’s one of the things we talked about today. If you look at the top rebounding teams in our conference last year four of the top five went to the NCAA Tournament. That’s not coincidence. That’s the way to get it done. You need possessions. For us, matching the physicality in our conference and playing at 100 percent of our athleticism is where we have to grow and the standard we have to play at all the time.”

On Thursday’s Tip-Off Dinner…
“Tip-Off Dinner was new to us last year and one of the highlights of the year. Inviting our fans to come and meet and hang out with our team – that’s my favorite part of this whole deal – to have a team that is worthy of fan involvement and is a group of people that our whole community can be excited about. That’s who they are. For our fans to get to meet them and get excited about our season with us, what’s better than that? The only thing better is doing it in a facility like we have and the Basketball Center is a phenomenal facility. I can’t wait for Thursday.”

Senior guard Alyssa Martin

On the first practice…
“The first practice went really well and was really competitive. Everybody was really excited to be out here and finally be able to practice as a whole team and with coaches.”

On the make-up of this year’s team…
“We’re young right now, but I think this is a chance for everyone to grow up quickly. We all get along really well and I think it’s going to be a good year.”

On her role this season…
“As the only senior, I see myself bringing wisdom to the team. I have three years of experience. I want to be in a leadership role, bringing it every day and setting the tone in practice.”

On the biggest positives from the day’s workout…
“I think we are already communicating a lot better than we have been. We are picking up stuff quickly and I think we all are just really excited to get going.”

Junior guard Ali Gibson

On the first practice…
“I think it was a great first day of practice. We’ve all been excited to get in the gym since spring. I feel like we’ve all been ready and it was very competitive today. Everybody was into it and focused.”

On what this team is focusing on…
“We’re working a lot on rebounding. I think that is the main goal. I remember coach saying that in our conference four of the top five teams in rebounding made the NCAA Tournament and of course that’s a big goal of ours.”

On the freshmen…
“I think they’re great players. They’re developing really well and have come in with the mindset that they want to play, they want to get better, they want to compete with us and I think that makes the team better overall.”

On her role this season…
“As an upperclassman, I’m trying to take more of a leadership role. Obviously this is Alyssa’s senior year and we want to win for her. She’s been here three years and I feel like she deserves that. I feel like taking the freshmen and sophomores under our wing and telling them what we’ve been through, both the successes and failures, can help us accomplish great things this season.

On how this summer’s international experience has helped the team…
“I think that international experience has been great for everyone. I think it’s helped Ruth a lot with competitiveness and mental strength. She has a lot of confidence, which is great for her because you need that in the post. Jamie, of course, had a great outing with Canada and that’s shown. It’s evident. She’s becoming more of a leader because of her style of play. Gabby is a young player and it’s good to get that kind of experience early. Myself, I think it’s just helped with playing different competition. A lot of the people I played with were older and had WNBA experience.”