What's gone wrong: Oregon Ducks women’s basketball sitting well below .500

Feb 9, 2024; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Kelly Graves.
Feb 9, 2024; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Kelly Graves. / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The once prominent Oregon women’s basketball team has fallen to the bottom of the Pac-12 in just a few years. With the same head coach at the helm and star recruits still coming to town, what has caused the Ducks to fall off their previous pedestal?

Kelly Graves is in his tenth season with Oregon and suddenly, his winning ways aren’t enough to push the Ducks to a 50 percent winning percentage.

Currently, Oregon has a rather young team. With star underclassmen like Chance Gray and Grace VanSlooten leading the way, the team doesn’t have much experience under its belt.

The Ducks sit at 11-16 overall and are on a nine-game losing streak. Their biggest losses have come in conference games and they only have two Pac-12 wins all year. So, what explains the drop-off in conference success?

It isn’t the youth of the roster nor Graves losing his ability to win.

The team has shown growth throughout the season, improving both its shooting percentage and defensive numbers as the year has gone on.

However, the competition across the board in the Pac-12 is stronger than ever before. Half of the conference is in the top 20 nationally and some of the best players in the country are on a Pac-12 roster.

No. 3 Stanford Cardinal

Head coach Tara VanDerveer has broken the NCAA all-time winning record with the Cardinal this season and her winning ways have paid off for Stanford.

So far this year, the team has only lost to then-No. 15 USC, then-No. 5 Colorado, and Gonzaga. VanDerveer and the Cardinal are on the way to a top-five finish this season and a sure ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Stanford and Oregon are set to face each other in their final regular season game.

No. 7 USC Trojans

The team only has four losses on the season and JuJu Watkins is leading the Trojans to the top of the national stage as she averages nearly 30 points per game.

Watkins also has 13 conference freshman of the week awards and three Pac-12 Player of the Week awards so far this season. The Trojans defeated the Ducks in both matchups so far this year.

No. 9 Oregon State Beavers

Raegan Beers has helped her team match the success of the USC Trojans. Beers leads the Beavers in points, rebounds, and steals this season as her team has broken into the top ten nationally.

With just three losses, Oregon State has dominated in conference play, especially against the Ducks. Oregon dropped both games this season to the Beavers.

No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes

Despite losing their two most recent games, the Buffaloes have had a dominant season. Defeating nearly everyone in its path and only losing to top-25 ranked teams, Colorado is set to go dancing in March.

Aaronette Vonleh, Frida Formann, and Jaylyn Sherrod are each averaging at least 13 points per game and Quay Miller is putting up an impressive 8 rebounds per game. The Buffs have already defeated the Ducks twice this season.

No. 12 UCLA Bruins

The one chink in UCLA’s armor came when they dropped a game to the unranked Washington State Cougars. Despite the team’s unexpected loss, the Bruins only have four other losses this season.

All five starters are averaging double digits in points and guard Lauren Betts leads the team in points, rebounds, and blocks so far this year.

Oregon lost by a combined 45 points in its two matchups against the Bruins.

No. 18 Utah Utes

The Utes have shocked the world with their highly impressive 2023 season. With wins over then No. 8 Colorado, No. 2 UCLA, and No. 6 USC, they have had upset after upset to boost their ranking.

Alissi Pili and Ines Vieria have combined to dominate the offensive end of the court with a combined 39.4 points and 8.8 assists per game. Gianna Kneepkens and Jenna Johnson add a combined 28.1 points on average. 

Despite Oregon keeping the game within 10 points in their first matchup, the Ducks lost both regular season games to the Utes.

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