Everything Scott Rueck said after Oregon State win over Notre Dame in Sweet 16

On3 imageby:Tyler Horka03/30/24

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Oregon State is in the Elite Eight fir the first time since 2018 and just the third time ever. Scott Rueck‘s No. 3 seed Beavers knocked off Niele Ivey and No. 2 seed Notre Dame, 70-65, in Albany, N.Y., on Friday.

Here’s what Rueck said after his team’s win.

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Opening statement

“What do you say? That was a fantastic basketball game. I thought it was a great representation of who we are. It showed every bit of us, I thought. It wasn’t always perfect, but we found a way. That’s what this team has done all year as we’ve grown together so quickly. Who would have thought before the year that we’d be sitting here? Not many people off this podium and in the locker room, of course.

“This is a special team, and they demonstrated every bit of that today, and I just couldn’t be happier for them or more proud of them for the way they operate every minute of every day, the way they take care of each other.

“As adversity came today, obviously Notre Dame is a great team and have a ton of talent, great defensive team, disrupted everything, took advantage of the mistakes we made, and the resilience of this group withstood that and made the plays when it mattered. We got the steal when it mattered. We hit the big three when it mattered. We executed late and made the free throws to separate.

“Just a great win for our program, for Beaver Nation, and just so happy for everyone.”

On if he’s more focused on what his team did well or didn’t do well in a victory over Notre Dame

“The final score, honestly. That’s the thing. We are relatively young. I mean, throughout our roster. So this year has been managing things that are new. For a teacher and a coach, that’s been the joy of this entire journey for me is we’ve got all this talent. We’ve got incredible camaraderie and chemistry with this group from day one. That was evident.

“Can we prepare them in a way to manage whatever is coming on whatever stage it might come? This team doesn’t play young in many ways, but you’ve got to give Notre Dame a ton of credit for disrupting. We did look young at times, of course, today, but the way this team has bought into the other end of the floor, like Timea [Gardiner] was mentioning, the defense has carried us on those nights. And then the offensive execution when we do take care of the basketball. We shot 60 percent like you said and 40 from three or something like that. Those numbers are crazy against a team like Notre Dame.

“We clearly — that’s been a point of emphasis all year, and it’s one of those things that’s just continuing to be a challenge in some ways, and certainly it’s going to be tested as we go forward.”

On shutting down Notre Dame freshman Hannah Hidalgo

“Hidalgo, she’s their floor leader. She’s got the ball in her hands more than anybody else, but man, you blink, we’re getting hurt other places. We’ve done a really good job this year with being disciplined in position defense, so the goal is make them miss. That’s why we don’t have a lot of steals. It took 39 minutes for us to get one I was told today. But we made them miss a ton of shots and shoot below their average and score below their average because of it.

“In a way, we don’t pressure, but in a way we do because we’re making you do something all game long you don’t really want to do. That made them look as uncomfortable as they did. It made them kind of look around in the fourth quarter like, where do we go, do I shoot this, but I’m actually shooting out of the hand I don’t want to shoot out of. So there’s little things like that.

“I hear all the time, you guys got lucky because they missed shots, and I would tell you, well, they’re shooting the shots we want them to shoot and they don’t normally shoot. So I would say, yeah, maybe that’s lucky, but I know they’re really uncomfortable shooting that. I played. I know. I know which way I want to go, and I know which way I kind of don’t. This team has bought into that.

“But I’ve got to give our conference a ton of credit for that. That is how it is every night in our league. That’s what Timea was mentioning. On the other end of the floor, when you’ve got a force like [Raegan Beers], somebody with not only the strength and size that she has, but the agility and the hands that she has, you’re playing through that person. There was a point where I thought we missed her too often early where we’re like, just give her the ball, play through Rae, with you give them credit for making that difficult. Fortunately we have lots of other things we can go to. Lily [Hansford] hit huge threes, Timea was unbelievable. Just did what she does. [Donovyn Huner] hit a couple huge shots and Talia play-made for us. We’re not just the ratio for sure, but that is probably our highest percentage option.”

On Oregon State’s offense vs. Notre Dame

“I wish it would have been a little cleaner. I would have loved that. But Hidalgo is all over you. In the fourth quarter I was just thinking to myself, I wish I could help Dono a little bit more. Let’s get the ball out of her hands a little bit more, and then Hannah would jump over to whoever brought it up and hound them. It wasn’t easy, but great teams don’t make it easy. You have to really work. Every dribble was challenged.

“So the ball didn’t move quite as well or as easily as I would have liked, and I don’t know, that’s why the game was the way it was, I guess, and the turnovers were the way they were. This team, though, does pass very well. Last week against Nebraska we had 21 assists on 22 field goals, so the ball does move with us, and so that is who we are.

“It’s not just one person. That’s not how we play. It’s everybody, and it’s spacing the floor and using the entire court to our advantage when we’re playing like we want to.”

On Hidalgo being forced to remove a nose ring in the middle of the game and how her absence might’ve affected her

“That’s the first I had heard about the nose ring. I was not aware of that. I didn’t know any of those things until now. I would say I thought we did a pretty good job defensively. I was really pleased. To make her go 4-of-17, those are the types of numbers that this team has forced our opponents into all season long, and so that was in a way par for the course, and it’s certainly not to take away from her. I just think our length and our discipline to stay in front of her was disruptive just like it was last week for Jaz Shelley, and has been — I mean, JuJu [Watkins] went 6-of-32 in Gill Coliseum this year for the exact same reason. She’s a great player, and it took everything we had to slow her down like that.”

On Oregon State’s 10-second violations

“I thought my role at that time was not to be emotional for sure, not to pile on. Those were obviously unique. Did we have three? It felt like — I know two for sure.

“My comment was get it across. Let’s go. They changed their press a couple of times, and that’s maybe some of the youth I was mentioning. So are we running this press break or this press break? And I think that indecisiveness caused us to pause just a second too long.

“And then their pressure is for real, and they did a great job of disrupting us, and when we crossed over, they were standing there waiting for us on that side. It just was tough.

“That’s something that we learned from, though. If we can still be learning this time of the year, and this team is, we just find something to improve upon from one game to the next, and that’s certainly something we’ll talk about after tonight or tomorrow.”

On Oregon State post player Raegan Beers being a problem for Notre Dame

“Well, she causes trouble at the rim and she compromises defensive integrity is what I would say. It’s really hard to defend her one-on-one, so when the ball goes inside, people typically have to help, or something good happens for us typically, she shoots 60 some percent.

“So Rae not only is a good scorer down low, she’s a great screener, and the pace of our offense really moves when she’s out there. She’s so quick. She pivots so well, maintains balance and then catches everything you throw at her. Because of that, she’s a constant threat that I think teams really have to focus on from a global perspective. It’s not just, hey, you’ve got her, take her out. It’s like, okay, how are we going to stop this kid, and we’re going to have to give her different looks, and we’re going to have to front, and maybe that hurts rebounding; we’re going to have to send two, which gives up a three.

“And then for us it’s the challenge of moving it around and adapting as other teams adapt to us. If I were playing against her, it would give me a headache.”

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