Oregon women’s basketball fans are used to seeing dynamic duos at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon.
For the past four years, Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard dominated the Pac-12 conference. The two ran the pick-and-roll to perfection. There was no Sabrina without Ruthy. There was no Ruthy without Sabrina. If they two could have been selected as a pair into the WNBA, it would have been fitting.
But Ionescu was selected No. 1 overall to the New York Liberty and Hebard No. 8 overall to the Chicago Sky.
Now, the year is 2020 and a new era of Oregon women’s basketball has officially begun.
And a new duo has rose to the surface: Te-Hina Paopao and Sedona Prince.
Paopao, a 5’9” five-star freshman point guard from Oceanside, California, was ranked the nation’s No. 11 player overall in the class of 2020. A true point guard, Paopao made her first career collegiate start in the first game of the season vs. Seattle U on Saturday.
It’s the first time the Ducks and head coach Kelly Graves have started a true freshman in the season-opener since Ionescu in 2016.
And then Duck fans finally got to see the debut of redshirt-sophomore Sedona Prince, who sat out her freshman season at Texas due to injury and then sat out again last season after the NCAA denied her request for immediate eligibility after transferring to Oregon.
The two have formed a special connection on the court this past offseason, and it was evident in game one of this 2020-2021 season. Paopao finished with five points and seven assists (three to Prince) and Prince finished with 17 points and six rebounds in Oregon’s 116-51 win over Seattle U at home.
“I think they have a chance to be a real special duo,” said Graves after the game. “We just lived one. I’m not saying that it’s going to be like the last dynamic duo that we had here, but, I think those two have all the ingredients to be special players. In combination, yeah I think it’s pretty cool.”
Graves is absolutely correct in saying that the Paopao-Prince connection isn’t going to be like the Ionescu-Hebard one.
The two are completely separate in more facets than one, both individually and as a pair. They will run the pick-and-roll differently. Ionescu was looking for her shot coming off a Hebard pick but also made some incredible passes to a cutting Hebard to the basket. Paopao is a pass-first type of point guard and Prince is a better outside shooter than Hebard, so that introduces a new element to this pick-and-roll as well.
It will be run differently, but hopefully have a similar success, one that worked extremely well for four years at Oregon.