Pac-12 12 Things: What we learned about Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State; Civil War Preview

PALO ALTO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Oregon Guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) shoots over Stanford Forward Maya Dodson (15) during the women's basketball game between the Oregon Ducks and the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion on February 10, 2019 in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PALO ALTO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Oregon Guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) shoots over Stanford Forward Maya Dodson (15) during the women's basketball game between the Oregon Ducks and the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion on February 10, 2019 in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Civil War has arrived.

This week in Pac-12 women’s basketball is headlined by civil war weekend between Oregon and Oregon State. Here’s what we learned about the top three teams in the conference, who squared off in the Bay Area last weekend.

Slocum finding open threes

Destiny Slocum struck twice from deep against Cal by canning 3-pointers, just maybe not as you’d expect. These weren’t pull ups set up by a crossover or her signature behind the back dribble. She drew a switch, kicked it out and relocated beyond the arc for clean looks on the catch.

More guards ought to hunt these kinds of shots. The best looks against a switching defense don’t have to come via isolations. Bigs that don’t regularly guard shooting threats are more susceptible for ever-so-brief lapses. Exhale for a split-second to survey the scene or switch back a beat too late and Slocum will jet right out for one of the easiest shots she’ll get all night.

Goodman sparks a run

Aleah Goodman sparked a late second quarter run after the Beavers had fallen behind by double figures, drilling a tough 3-pointer running around some screens and engaging Kristine Anigwe in pick and roll just long enough to give her big time to roll to the basket.

Expect the absence of Kat Tudor to really be accentuated this weekend against the Ducks. I fully expect Oregon to lean on their various zone defenses, largely in part to ensure Slocum won’t see many driving lanes. But the additional workload required of Goodman since Tudor’s injury bodes well for the remainder of this season and beyond.

We’re rarely talking about the many things Goodman can do as a ball handler in addition to her wonderful spot up shooting. We’ve reached a point where she simply is doing them on a regular basis, making her team much more difficult to defend even in the aftermath of Tudor’s season-ending injury.

Another fun OSU set piece

This is a fun set from Scott Rueck. Two stacks formed at each elbow and the guards popped out simultaneously to opposite wings. Cal didn’t nail the communication as it unfolded. Two players following one is exactly what Rueck needs some of his play calls to encourage.

They sorely miss Tudor’s versatility as an on the move 3-point shooter. Slocum and Goodman can create plenty for themselves. OSU needs to force defenses into scramble mode to create more open triples for Mikayla Pivec, Taya Corosdale and Katie McWilliams to take down the Ducks.

Don’t forget about Dodson

Tuck this sequence away from Maya Dodson in Stanford’s blowout loss to Oregon.

She played that pick and roll perfectly, showing herself to encourage the pass then going up to swat the shot attempt upon its release.

Her first four games back from injury: Cal, Cal, Oregon State, Oregon. How’s that for getting thrown right back into the fire? That’s extremely valuable game tape she’ll be able to go back to in the coming months as she aims to further develop her face up and low post game.

Ionescu dealing in the lane

Nothing was stopping the two main cogs in the most potent pick and roll combination in the country on Sunday. What more can you say? Stanford is a top-10 defense and when Ruthy Hebard wasn’t bulldozing people in the post, Sabrina Ionescu punished the Cardinal with her ability to score efficiently in the lane when an opponent takes the other stuff away.

Hebard establishing new norm

Stanford’s switching completely discombobulated Oregon State on Friday night. The biggest difference between Friday and Sunday? Ruthy Hebard didn’t just find some success scoring with her back to the basket. She stomped all over Stanford with her back to the basket, even going right through Dodson on several occasions.

The final margin got so ugly because the Cardinal turned in an awful offensive performance. Oregon influenced some of it, but more scores would have given them more chances to fuel their defense and get deeper into the game without facing such a big deficit.

Though Stanford may not see Oregon the rest of the season, my biggest takeaway from that game only emboldened my position that no team in college basketball can throw a defense at Oregon that they won’t be able to handle.

Pass of the week: Maite Cazorla

There are a few different ways teams have tried to slow down the Ducks. Hebard’s 2018-19 campaign to date all but eliminates switching as a viable option. The other thing I can’t get over in trying to play devil’s advocate with this team: Maite Cazorla can still carve you up even when you do manage to load up on Ionescu.

How many times have we seen this movie already? The Ducks may go scoreless for a few possessions as a team mounts a run. They put so many threats on the floor at once that it’s just too easy to forget that they have another guard that can run pick and roll and make a play to score out of it regardless of how it’s defended.

Takeaways for Stanford after the 40-point loss

  • The Cardinal would really benefit if all of their shooters around Alanna Smith could speed up their release. The Hull twins need some time to get their shot off, as do Alyssa Jerome and Shannon Coffee.
  • The aggression of Kiana Williams still waxes and wanes, seen in alarming contrast last weekend against the Oregon schools.
  • They need DiJonai Carrington at her absolute best as a driver and playmaker against top tier opponents to get to the foul line and create some of those looks for others.
  • Smith missed some quality looks. We didn’t need this outcome to teach us that Stanford won’t fare well against a top-10 opponent without their best player having an efficient scoring night. Oregon didn’t do anything she hasn’t seen before; none of their players are particularly troubling matchups for her.
  • It may help in the long run for the Cardinal to focus on their offensive struggles in that game over worrying too much about Oregon’s offense. If they turn in even an average performance by this season’s standards, the final margin probably gets cut in half. They still got housed on their home floor, a troubling contrast to a dominating win two days prior over the Beavers.
  • I think Tara VanDerveer may need to make a really bold move defensively if her team sees the Ducks again. I’d be interested to see what would happen if they put Smith on Ionescu. It would also help to find a way to keep her closer to the basket over chasing Erin Boley or switching onto Ionescu, both stripping their best defensive player of much of her power altering and contesting shots.

Stanford’s switching bogs down the Beavs

Stanford all but wrote a book Friday on how to best contain Pivec and Slocum.

First, they utilized more switching to prevent Slocum from getting downhill coming off a ball screen. Switching alone doesn’t guarantee stops. You need to prevent Slocum from turning a corner, or else you’ll open yourself up to kick outs to open 3-point shooters.

Then they defended Pivec with their chest first and their length second. They played her to drive, stayed down on fakes and forced shots over their outstretched arms.

Both guards are good enough to score over good defenders. There is no perfect approach. But Stanford didn’t open themselves up to mistakes that would get them in foul trouble or force them to leave OSU’s spot up shooters in order to send help at the rim. Both Lacie and Lexie Hull continued to impress with their feet and discipline on the perimeter.

OSU small lineup concerns

Among the chief concerns in going with the Corosdale at center lineup: Pivec had to start the game on Alanna Smith. Pivec works hard, she’s physical and can really clean up on the glass. Just not against Smith. Pivec has no chance, and Corosdale is overmatched physically against many back to basket scorers as well.

OSU will likely need to rely on zone defenses, which they may not be eager to do. How much of that will we see this weekend against the Ducks? I think they need to turn to that lineup regularly to keep pace offensively with some of the top teams.

There’s still some time for one or more of their centers to continue to grow. Joanna Grymek has played with more confidence, and Patricia Morris has been getting more run. Rueck’s utilization of his bigs will be the most intriguing storyline of civil war weekend because of what those players mean to their ultimate success in March.

More of Maite

Cazorla made nice reads throughout their Friday win at Cal to get all the way into the lane to score, not an easy task with Kristine Anigwe in the area.

Three of the four buckets were quick finishes in two ways that will really bother opposing coaches: early in the shot clock and early on the release to minimize the chance for a big to come across and alter the attempt.

More love for the bigs

Enjoy this reel of blocks by Alanna Smith and Maya Dodson from over the weekend. Both have tremendous timing and arms that always seem to end up being longer than you’d think.

Unfortunately, Ruthy Hebard spent part of the Cal game in foul trouble. Another consequence of this season’s regular season schedule: We’ll only see Hebard and Anigwe square off once unless they meet in the postseason. Hebard went right at her for a bucket to start the game. Anigwe’s face up game was on display later on including a left handed drive and pull up jumper.

Previous editions of the column: Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1

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