Ducks adjusting to new coach, slower pace

By Ryan Thorburn / The (Eugene) Register-Guard

Kelly Graves inherited some nice pieces.

The challenge for the new Oregon women’s basketball coach and his staff will be fitting them all together in a completely different puzzle.

The returning players are accustomed to Paul Westhead’s unique fast-break approach known as “The System.” Over the summer the Ducks must learn and master elementary concepts during limited on-court time with the coaches.

“With coach (Graves), we’re doing a lot of different screens,” junior forward Jillian Alleyne said when asked about the transition to a more traditional style of play. “With The System, we didn’t do a lot of that stuff. So when they’re talking about a flare screen we’re like, ‘Wait, what is that?’

“It’s kind of just getting back to the fundamentals and the basics and remembering what basketball is all about.”

Alleyne loved Westhead’s frenetic pace. She earned honorable mention all-American honors last season while averaging 21.4 points and an NCAA-best 16.2 rebounds per game. Chrishae Rowe (21.6 ppg) was the top scorer in the nation’s highest scoring offense (93.2 ppg) as a true freshman.

“I like what I see in both of them,” Graves said of the program’s two most prominent young stars. “I love Jillian’s motor, and we’ve been working on a face-up game for her. That’s where we’ve always been good as a staff, developing post players and expanding their game so they can play 15 to 18 feet from the hoop. That’s what Jillian has to do. ...

“(Rowe) can also add some diversity to her game. She’s a great shooter and she has to be able to take people off the dribble. I love Shae and her work ethic. From what I’m hearing she’s in the gym every day doing extra work.”

NCAA rules will allow coaches to work with the team for two hours per week during the summer.

“That’s going to be critical to introduce our defensive team concepts and positioning. I think that’s something that’s pretty new to these guys,” Graves said. “As well as an offensive system with the spacing and fundamentals that are important to us.”