If you are like me you feel empty. I was getting geared up for March Madness featuring the No. 14 Oregon State women's basketball team. Would they host the first and second rounds? Would they be a four-seed? If they won their first two games would they head to Greenville, Dallas or Fort Wayne? Could the Beavers have made a fifth straight trip to the Sweet 16 and a second trip to the Final Four in five years?
All of that was abruptly taken away from all of Beaver Nation, and beyond, thanks the implications of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. The Beavers held a media availability to speak about this unprecedented situation featuring Coach Scott Rueck, senior Mikayla Pivec and junior Aleah Goodman.
For Coach Rueck the realization that the NCAA Tournament was cancelled filled him with disbelief, sadness, anger and also just feeling numb:
It is so strange. It is something that you can't even fathom. You can't even create something like this in your mind until it happens. The word I used was numb, I just felt numb, I didn't know how to feel. I am sad, angry because you want your best for the students and for them not to get the opportunity to compete and find closure just brought out a lot of frustrating emotions. — Scott Rueck
Mikayla Pivec wears her heart on her sleeve and was emotional talking about what she is going to miss because she is a senior.
The NCAA Tournament is a once in a lifetime opportunity you dream about when you are a little kid growing up playing basketball at recess. Now I have the realization that I won't get the opportunity to enjoy that with this group of girls.
The NCAA Tournament is the culmination of the season that you remember. My sophomore year we helped Marie (Gulich) finish out her senior year strong. We helped her get to the WNBA and helped her have a great finish and that is what we cherished. — Mikayla Pivec
Aleah Goodman says the entire team is still trying to process the loss of the tournament:
I don't think it has really hit us yet. We are still thinking about Monday and finding out which team we would face in the tournament so it is really still shocking. As Coach Rueck said we are a little numb to it. We really don't know what to do or say about it because it is still a mystery to what's next. — Aleah Goodman
heartbroken is an understatement— aleah goodman (@aleahgoodman) March 12, 2020
man my heart hurts for the seniors 🥺— aleah goodman (@aleahgoodman) March 12, 2020
There has been talk of senior players being given another year of eligibility because of the cancellation. Rueck says he favors the idea. He says the idea that they will miss more games in Gill and that they won't have a senior banquet (it has been cancelled) are essential moments that are being taken away from them so why not give the seniors another chance:
They’re getting short-changed so what can we do to get it right. I think more importantly, as an athlete you prepare your entire career for your senior year and the end of it. You prepare your entire time for your senior season and lead your team into the NCAA Tournament. That is your thesis.
Now your gonna tell Mik, Maddie, Kat and Janessa they won't get to do that? To me, I think there definitely should be open ears to that thought process and I would be in favor of it. — Scott Rueck
Pivec says she would be willing to put off an attempt at an WNBA career to finish out her college career in the way she envisioned at the start of this season.
I am a person who has a plan, but right now I don't have much of a plan. I will take a week off and then begin training. If I do get another year of eligibility, I would take it in a heartbeat. — Mikayla Pivec
The team won't be allowed to practice and Coach Rueck says they are all being encouraged to stay home. For the entire program this is a sad week with the realization that the entire situation is out of their control. It will be interesting to see what the NCAA will do regarding the seniors who lost so much.