Pac-12 12 Things: Oregon on the road, Anigwe in OT, Gylten and Huff gelling in Utah


This week in Pac-12 women’s basketball, we’ve got an Oregon-heavy look back at the past week, Utah sweeping the weekly awards, Cal escaping in OT against St. Mary’s and a fellow Pac-12 program certain to be happy with Oregon State’s loss in Hawaii to Texas A&M.

1. Satou’s avoidable foul trouble

Michigan State put together a fantastic effort to upset the Ducks after falling in a 12 point hole early. Satou Sabally picking up two early fouls and a third right at the start of the second half didn’t help.

Kelly Graves has played three guard lineups featuring Sabrina Ionescu, Maite Cazorla and freshman Taylor Chavez together. But when they don’t and Sabally is on the bench, their spacing gets dicey with multiple non-shooters out there together.

Graves played it safe, sitting her for about six minutes after picking up her second and four another four to end the half. We’re going to hear about their (lack of) depth all season long. But Sabally has to move beyond these kind of lapses.

She’s the first one back but bailed out an out of control drive, then seconds into the third set herself up to pick up that third by failing to get into a stance.

2. Oregon’s sweet off-ball action

Not every team has as many high level 3-point shooters as the Ducks. But nothing is stopping teams from inserting these simple off-ball actions into their offense. First Ruthy Hebard sets a flare screen to free Erin Boley for an open triple. Then Hebard sets Ionescu up for a trey out of some ‘Hammer’ action. Note Sabally screening for Chavez at the same time as a secondary option.

3. Why Erin Boley is much more than a spot up shooter

The transfer forward scored 24 points and shot 6-of-12 from deep against the Spartans. Watch her footwork to get into those shots. Lots of players can shoot that well in a game on standstill 3-pointers. Very few will take that many of those kind of attempts—in transition, backpedaling out to the arc, picking and popping quickly to receive a bullet pass on the move.

I wasn’t sure if Boley’s shooting would tip the scales of games quite like Lexi Bando’s (47 percent on 127 attempts in 2017-18). Boley’s might be better. How do you matchup with her and Sabally? With Boley taking so many of these shots on the move, there isn’t an easy choice there.

4. Satou bounces back

She’s too good not to bounce back. Thankfully for Oregon, that came right away against a very skilled South Dakota State bunch—some really tough 3-pointers, a heady back cut and a quick post up of a smaller guard.

5. A great read by Sabrina Ionescu

Just another play for the best player in college basketball. She didn’t just made the split-second decision on how to use that screen. She knew her defender would get nailed by that screen, opening up a window to turn and fire to Hebard right at the rim.

6. Slocum to Pivec connection for OSU

Mikayla Pivec has a lot of strengths that mesh well with Destiny Slocum. Pivec can beat people on a close out as more of their secondary playmaker of sorts. She’s also a smart cutter. Slocum is quick enough against man or zone to collapse the defense and open up seams for Pivec to dive to the rim:

7. Pac-12 Player of the Week: Megan Huff, Utah

She dominated making the simple plays in the team’s win over BYU and looked like the biggest, fastest and strongest player on the court doing so. With more shooting around her this season, Pac-12 play can’t come soon enough. Team’s probably won’t be able to sit in a zone against the Utes, meaning Huff will have ample opportunity to go to work from all over the court.

8. Pac-12 Freshman of the Week: Dru Gylten, Utah

Gylten has a really nice feel as a passer, helped by her 5’10” frame. She let go of this one to Huff on the break as she was even with a defender:

Note also how Utah’s nominal center is able to grab and go to start the break. This team is really going to create some problems for the teams at the top.

9. Kristine Anigwe, post passer

Anigwe shot just 9-of-24 in this one, but you can only smile at that lefty hook big to big pass. Then the step through facing a double team to find Kianna Smith in overtime in the corner may have been the play of the game.

10. Kristine Anigwe, defending all over the court

Saint Mary’s really challenged her with players that she had to guard out at the 3-point line. There were some plays where they got the best of her to be sure, but when her technique was sound, we got a glimpse of how much she’ll be able to spook people with her athleticism and long arms.

She generally did a good job of staying vertical closer to the basket and still made them feel her when they tried to post up her teammates.

11. The Week Ahead

What a week of games to wrap up non-conference play: Stanford plays at No. 9 Tennessee on Tuesday, then Oregon hosts No. 5 Mississippi State later that evening on ESPN2.

Washington will get a crack at the Bulldogs two days later and the Cardinal will have their hands full with Buffalo’s Cierra Dillard on Friday. Cal gets UConn on their home floor on Saturday, where they’ll aim to hang tough after getting drubbed 82-47 in Storrs last season.

12. Why Wednesday matters even more for USC

Texas A&M just beat No. 8 Oregon State on a neutral floor in Hawaii. USC travels to College Station this week. Because of that outcome, the stage is really set for them to come away with a resume-builder, something they famously lacked last season.

Previous editions of the column: Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1