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Michelle Smith Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Feature: Oregon State's Aleah Goodman

Mar 1, 2021
Oregon State Athletics
Aleah Goodman knew it was her turn this season. To be a leader, a tone-setter, the player that other people were going to look to for confidence and calm on the floor and off.
The Oregon State senior, who was the league’s first-ever 6th Player of the Year back in in 2019, started to doubt that she was going to be able to pull it off. The Beavers have a young team, they were trying to start a season in the middle of a pandemic and COVID-19-related pauses have taken their toll on the OSU schedule.
“A part of me was thinking ‘Oh geez, I’m trying to lead and we are struggling,” Goodman said. “My instinct is to look within first, I was thinking ‘Am I not communicating well enough, is there something I need to do better’.”
But head coach Scott Rueck took his most experienced player aside and told her, “We are OK, we are going to get through this and we are going to be fine.”
“She has a coach’s mind and she is so capable of leading,” Rueck said. “I have never doubted whether she would be a good leader or not. She’s been fantastic. She says the things that need to be said, but she’s also relentlessly positive.”
Rueck’s reassurance that Goodman needed to settle both herself and her team.
As the Beavers faced a 29-pause in the season after going 1-5 to start Pac-12 play, Goodman, Rueck and redshirt junior Taya Corosdale met frequently to talk about keeping the team connected and in a good space, both mentally and physically.
“You can’t get rhythm and momentum when you are not playing games,” Goodman said. “In practice, you can only do so much, and it’s hard to translate Pac-12 games into a practice. Nothing gets you prepared for that.”
But behind Goodman - who is averaging 16.8 points per game and has shot 57.1 percent from three-point range over her last seven games - Oregon is finding both rhythm and momentum.
The Beavers have now won six of seven, including last weekend’s big sweep over USC and UCLA, and now Sunday’s win over Oregon in Eugene and, after two straight road wins over ranked teams, are positioning themselves well for the postseason. 
Over its last seven games, Oregon State has shot nearly 50 percent from the floor, while holding its opponents to 36 percent shooting.
Goodman, meanwhile, is filling her stat sheet. She ranks second in the Pac-12 at 5.0 assists per game, and leads the conference in three-point percentage at 52.6 (third in the nation). Both are career-highs. Last week’s 20-point, seven-rebound, nine-assist game against the Bruins propelled her to national espnW player of the week honors as well as Pac-12 Player of the Week. She followed up with 20 points on Sunday against Oregon, her seventh 20-point performance of the season.
Goodman said she knew she would have to be consistent this season if her team was going to be successful.
“I knew that this year things were going to fall on me, that I had to pick up my game and find different ways to score,” Goodman said. “At the beginning of the year, I was thinking ‘Oh my god, I have to do all of this’.”
But again Rueck stepped in.

“He told me that I didn’t need to take all of this on my shoulders, that I needed to become a player that could score or distribute and get teammates open,” Goodman said. “I didn’t need to take on all of that pressure.”

“She’s been outstanding, but I’ve trusted her in big situations since the beginning of her freshman year,” Rueck said. “She is somebody that has the skills and the mindset and that knack for the big moment.”
There are more of those coming, starting with the Pac-12 Tournament and hopefully an NCAA berth.
“We know we are good, that we can hang with anyone,” Goodman said. “We are young, but we knew that by the end of the regular season that we wanted to be one of the top teams and I think we are peaking and getting our momentum at the right time.”