The Oregon Ducks have made a good decision moving forward with the Women’s Basketball program. In coaching circles around the country there are few names synonymous with a programs success. With Gonzaga, Kelly Graves built a program in to an NCAA Tournament contender. He took the Zags to the tournament six times and played in the Sweet 16 three straight years from 2010-2012. Oregon seems to know that they wanted in a new head coach. They signed Kelly to a six year deal making him the seventh coach in Oregon Women’s Basketball history. Graves brings a ton of experience to a program that has plenty of talent but has been unable to capitalize with it over the past several seasons.
In former Oregon Ducks Head Coach Paul Westhead Oregon did reach the WNIT Second Round this past season before losing to Washington and the Ducks started Westhead’s Oregon Coaching career with a trip to the WNIT in his first season as Head Coach in 2009. Graves also knows the difficulty of building a program.
In his first season with Gonzaga the team was 5-23 and 0-14, winless in the West Coast Conference. The turnaround took four years for the Zags to become undefeated in the WCC(14-0) and winners of the Conference. That turnaround will not be needed with the Oregon Women’s team. The Oregon Ducks have plenty of young talent led by Guard Jillian Alleyne who shattered just about every rebounding record in her Sophomore season with the team. Graves met with the team on Sunday before making the decision that coming to Eugene was the right move. With his previous success recruits will likely see Oregon as a place to play. But let me be clear, this is not a rebuilding process. .
The players are in place in order to engineer a fairly quick turnaround for an Oregon Ducks basketball team that has under performed over the last few years, be it because of coaching, injuries or a mix of both. A successful team will bring the excitement back to Matthew Knight Arena and perhaps this upcoming season the Oregon Men’s Basketball team won’t be the only ones with a sellout or two during their games.