By: Jeffrey Newholm
What is a triple-double? Officially, it’s scoring in double figures in three categories (such as points, assists, and rebounds). But some make it more complicated. Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy opined it’s a completely arbitrary and meaningless stat. Truthfully, it’s no more than an educated measure of a very good game. But when one player flies over the NCAA record for the feat for men and women in just the first month of her junior year, there’s no way to butcher the phrase. #3 Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu needs one more as of this writing but, more importantly, leads a determined group of Ducks aiming to glide into the program’s first Final Four.
Process and Improvement
As one may expect, however, that’s not the team’s immediate focus. Coach Kelly Graves argued, “Our goal is to get better each and every day. If you only think March and April then I think you do a disservice to your basketball team. I think it’s about the process”. Gulp! Getting better? Process? Not the Final Four? Boring!…but very effective. After signing the Californian Ionescu, a player ESPNW called a “Tough, competitive combo-guard with complete floor game”, the improvement was almost immediate. Oregon finished 23-14 in 2017, making a Cinderella run to the Elite Eight. After Ionescu assured listeners in that game the Ducks would be a power “next year”, indeed they were, improving to 33-5. But inexperience proved costly.
Success and Record
After leading 46-40 against Notre Dame at halftime in the elite eight, the Ducks came out silly and happy while the Irish warmed up fiercely determined. Focus won over joy as ND turned around for a convincing 84-74 triumph. But Oregon is again a strong favorite for a top seed and national championship, even if they don’t dwell on it. Going into a tournament this weekend, Ionescu admitted the quest will be much easier when the record is obtained. She observed, ” “I think that 13th one will be a little more special because I’ll be the record holder for both men’s and women’s, but from there on out it’s just about winning games.” And win they will until the parity in women’s basketball is improved even further.