Why Oregon is suddenly the center of women's college basketball
It used to be the state of Tennessee.
But now, it seems that the state of Oregon is suddenly the mecca of women's college basketball.
The Oregon and Oregon State women's basketball teams, once Pac-12 afterthoughts, have turned the state of Oregon into not only the home of cool athletic shoes, but also a hot destination for some of the best high school girls basketball recruits in the country. And that has turned both teams into national powers.
Oregon, which went to its first Final Four last year and just signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, including Maine West star Angela Dugalic, is currently the No. 1 team in the nation in the Associated Press poll. Oregon State, which went to its first Final Four in 2016, is No. 7.
"Things just happen that way. That's sports," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said of the strange coincidence that both of Oregon's flagship universities are coming of age in women's basketball at the same time. Bruno's Blue Demons, ranked No. 19 in the country, faced Oregon State last week and lost, 98-77.
"It's recruiting, recruiting, recruiting," Bruno said of the success at Oregon and Oregon State. "Oregon this year is just head and shoulders above everyone else in terms of talent and that's just recruiting. And Oregon State is not far behind. They've got great guard play and they have a lot of size at Oregon State."
Oregon State this season features an imposing frontcourt that includes 6-foot-4 Taylor Jones, 6-foot-6 Kennedy Brown and 6-foot-7 Patricia Morris.
Meanwhile, Oregon boasts the best player in the country, point guard Sabrina Ionescu, a stat-sheet stuffer who is the NCAA's all-time leader in career triple-doubles.
Ionescu was eligible, due to her age, for the WNBA draft in the spring after her junior season, and women's basketball fans in the state of Oregon were on the edge of their seats waiting for her decision. To their relief, she returned for her senior season because she wants a shot at an NCAA championship.
That seems to be a very plausible scenario as Oregon just defeated the USA women's national team, which features WNBA stars such as Diana Taurasi, in an exhibition game.
"Sabrina is really special," Bruno said of Ionescu. "She's got that Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi quality about her, just an instinct and competitiveness that is really special."
End of a run: It's over for the Irish. For now.
A 12-year run by the Notre Dame women's basketball team in the Associated Press Top 25 poll ended this week when it fell out of the poll for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
The Irish had been ranked for 234 consecutive weeks, the third-longest streak behind Connecticut (492) and Baylor (302).
The fatal blow was Notre Dame's losses at home last week to Tennessee and Michigan State. It was the first time since 2008 that Notre Dame, which won the national title in 2018, lost consecutive home games in South Bend.
Tennessee's victory was the first time that a team other than Connecticut had beaten the Irish at home since 2012. The win helped the Lady Vols get ranked for the first time this year (No. 23).
Tennessee owns the longest streak in history of being ranked, remaining in the AP Top 25 for 565 consecutive weeks before falling out in 2016.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, is trying to regroup this season after graduating a talented senior class that scored more than 10,000 career points, losing a couple of talented players to transfers and having starting guard Abby Prohaska become sidelined indefinitely due to blood clots being found in her lungs.