Michelle Smith WBB Feature: Oregon State's Tudor finds her shot

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In Kat Tudor’s first game back from a ten-and-a-half month rehabilitation from a torn ACL, she scored zero points.

Her teammates and coaches reminded her that she hadn’t played in a collegiate game in nearly a year. That it might take a little time to get back to where she was - one of the top long-range shooting guards in the game. They had the “little time” part right.

In the two games since Tudor’s scoreless return to the floor for the Beavers, she has quickly picked up where she left off a year ago, hitting eight of 11 3-point attempts and pushing seventh-ranked Oregon State to a 5-0 start and the championship of the Preseason WNIT. 

“Kat’s back,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. 

Tudor, the 6-foot senior wing from Woodbridge, California, is averaging 9.3 points in less than 16 minutes a game so far. She is bringing energy and inspiration to a Beavers team with title aspirations and a promising mix of veteran talent like the backcourt tandem of Mikayla Pivec and Destiny Slocum, and young faces like Taylor Jones and Kennedy Brown.

“I feel a lot better on the court than sitting on the sidelines,” Tudor said. “I have been practicing at a really high level, but it was a 10 and a 1/2-month injury. And in my first game, I had zero points and I didn’t expect that. But since then, I’ve been more relaxed. I want to be able to take advantage of a lot more things off the dribble and attacking and being in shape. And that will come. But it helps when your teammates get you the ball where you want it and the coaches run plays for you.”

Tudor’s return is all the more important to Oregon State following last Thursday’s news that junior forward Tara Corosdale is likely out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury that requires surgery.

Oregon State will head east for one of the toughest matchups of the preseason with a Friday game at No. 16 Miami (Fla.). And they will need Tudor’s perimeter game.

“She’s a huge piece for us,” Rueck said. “She just instills confidence in everyone with the way she plays. She is a consummate winner, she’s fearless and it just comes bleeding out of her every time she steps on the floor.”

Tudor’s injury occurred at the start of Pac-12 play last season, sending her into something of an emotional tailspin. She would miss 21 games. She lost more than time, but a little of her identity as well.

“It went through a lot of different moods and phases. I didn’t talk to anyone for a while, there were a lot of things going on,” Tudor said. “It’s been a process and it’s been tough. But I’m trying to turn it into more of a blessing. I need to take it and use it.”

Rueck said he watched Tudor go quiet, and struggle while not playing. But he also saw her come back, milestone by milestone. 

“Once she got the green light for one thing, and then the next thing and the next thing, her personality began to come back too,” Rueck said. “She was getting back to being Kat. Once there was light at the end of the tunnel, her joy came back.”

Not to mention her 3-point shot. It just took a little time.

Michelle Smith is a contributing writer for pac-12.com. She has covered pro and college sports for espnW, San Francisco Chronicle, The Athletic and AOL Fanhouse. She was has won several awards, including the WBCA's Mel Greenberg Media Award, presented annually to a member of the media who has best displayed commitment to advancing the role of the media in women's basketball. For previous Michelle Smith features on pac-12.com, visit the archives page.

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