Scott Rueck woke up Sunday with a sick feeling and still in a bit of shock about the news he and the Oregon State women’s basketball team received the night before.
Kat Tudor would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in her left knee.
One of the thoughts that went through Rueck’s mind Sunday was if that news was really true.
Unfortunately for the No. 10 Beavers, the answer was yes.
The players and coaches are beginning to come to grips with that fact, but it has been a tough couple days.
“Obviously that’s something you never want to happen to anybody,” senior Katie McWilliams said Tuesday. “We’ve been … supporting her as much as possible and obviously it’s a hard thing to deal with.”
Added sophomore Destiny Slocum: “All we can do is support her through her journey and know she’s still a part of team just as much (as before the injury) even if she’s not on the floor.”
Rueck said as tough as it may be, the team has no time to dwell on losing Tudor, as well as Janessa Thropay, who will miss some time with a broken finger.
“First it’s getting over what we can’t control and putting our focus on what we can,” Rueck said. “Everybody has to rise, including us as coaches, to reconfigure some things without her.”
The Beavers will certainly miss Tudor’s production on the floor as she was their third-leading scorer at 12.3 points per game. Rueck said all five remaining guards – McWilliams, Slocum, Mikayla Pivec, Aleah Goodman and Jasmine Simmons – would see increased minutes and will need to help fill the void.
“We saw Destiny come with a big effort the other day,” Rueck said of her 30-point, six-assist and seven-rebound game against Washington. “I think this is a team that is capable and so when that role changes and more is demanded, they are capable of giving more.
“And they’ll need to, which in life is a good place to be. It’s uncomfortable in ways where you have to provide more for your team, it also is going to advance all of them as they step into those roles.”
One of Rueck’s concerns entering the season, and an area the Beavers have worked at improving this season, was and is rebounding.
Despite not having the dominant rebounding post of years past — Ruth Hamblin and Marie Gulich, for example — the Beavers are not just holding their own but performing up to their usual standards.
Oregon State enters this week leading the Pac-12 in rebounding margin (14.4), rebounds per game (45.4) and defensive rebounds per game (33.4).
Pivec leads the way at 8.7 per game from her guard position while Taya Corosdale is at 7.4, but is coming off an impressive weekend that saw her average 11.5 with a career-high 14 on Sunday.
Rueck said he likes where the team is at but is not close to being satisfied. He said the Beavers have let down at times and allowed other teams to stay in games with offensive rebounds.
“We’ve proven to me and everyone, I think, that when we play right and we are five people fully engaged, playing with intensity and that willingness to be physical … that we can rebound and compete with anyone,” he said. “So that’s been very encouraging.”
In addition to the rebounding rankings, the Beavers are first in three other Pac-12 team categories: field goal percentage defense (33.9), 3-pointers per game (10.9) and 3-point percentage (43.2).
Oregon State is second nationally behind Baylor (35.3) in defensive rebounds per game and second to Wyoming (43.7) in 3-point percentage. The Beavers are third nationally in 3s per game; DePaul is first at 12.3.
The Beavers’ rebound margin is fifth nationally, while OSU is ninth nationally in assists per game (19.4), 10th in rebounds per game, 11th in assist-turnover margin (1.35) and 13th in field goal percentage defense.
First taste of Pac-12
Slocum had a chance to see what Pac-12 games are like from the bench last season while she was sitting out due to transfer rules, but she got her first playing experience this past weekend.
She had 12 points and eight assists in her first conference game against Washington State, and followed that up with a career-high 30 points in Sunday’s win over Washington.
The level of intensity and competitiveness was all she expected.
“The Pac to me is the best conference in the country,” she said on Sunday. “Every single game is going to be a game you have to come out and have your best game. Because anyone can have a good game any day, any weekend and I think that’s one thing that I’ve kind of learned and watched throughout the entire year, through the adversity we faced last year in the Pac. And I know this year it’s going to be a hard fight, too, so we just have to take it game by game.”