WNBA

Former Oregon State Beaver Mikayla Pivec will sit out the 2020 WNBA season

Former Oregon State Beaver Mikayla Pivec will sit out the 2020 WNBA season

Former Oregon State guard Mikayla Pivec, who was set to enter her WNBA rookie season, has decided to sit out of the 2020 season.

The Atlanta Dream made the announcement on their Twitter page Monday, saying Pivec will not play in the 2020 season due to personal reasons, adding she ‘will be suspended by the Atlanta Dream.’ The Dream’s PR tweet did say the team would welcome Pivec back next season.

Oregon State's all-time leading rebounder and the shortest player in Pac-12 history to haul in 1,000 rebounds was selected by the Atlanta Dream as the 25th overall pick in the 3rd round of this year’s draft.

[RELATED]: Everything Mikayla Pivec does moves the needle

During her senior year, Pivec averaged 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

The 5-10 guard was focused on enjoying the process and controlling what she can control just days before the WNBA Draft as she explained in April's Talkin’ Beavers Podcast.

You try not to worry too much about where you go or what's going to happen. Just know that hopefully God will steer me to the right place, and He will. Enjoy this moment and take it all in and spend time with family... Embrace the journey. -- Mikayla Pivec said ahead of the WNBA Draft in April

The 2020 WNBA season remains paused because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sabrina Ionescu wouldn’t rule out possibility of women playing in NBA 

Sabrina Ionescu wouldn’t rule out possibility of women playing in NBA 

Before the world said goodbye to Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, he vowed that women would one day be allowed to compete in the NBA. 

He believed his daughter, Gianna, could one day carve her name in same league record books where he carved his. In fact, Kobe told CNN he felt a number of female stars like Maya Moore, Elena Della Donne and “White Mamba” Diana Taurasi had the skills to do it right now.

The five-time NBA champion likely saw that same potential in Sabrina Ionescu, who was a mentee of the late Bryant and mentor to Gianna. The Oregon Ducks superstar became the first player male or female to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in NCAA Division I basketball history last season. 

So, does Ionescu think it’s possible that men and women will one day play in the same league? 

“I hope so,” Ionescu told Ernie Johnson on NBA’s Twitter Live on Wednesday. “It was my dream ever since I was young.” 

And it’s something young girls will continue to dream about unless something changes. Sabrina, for one, backs the idea that there are women who are capable and deserving of the opportunity to take the same court as the men, and at the same time.  

“I know that the speed and the physicality and the strength of the men’s players are obviously at a different caliber than that of a woman, but I do think that there is a certain level of which we are equal,” Ionescu said. 

Women are impacting the NBA now more than ever. In 2019, there were a record 11 women serving as assistant coaches in the league. But while the NBA boasts a handful of women executives, trainers and assistant coaches, the players that take the court are all-male. 

Maybe Sabrina is right, there are slight physical differences in the way males and females play, but there are players currently in the WNBA who merit at least an opportunity in a genderless sport. 

Ionescu won’t rule out the possibility that player could soon come along and change the leagues as we know it. It could even be her. 

“I think that at some point there could be a possibility that maybe teams merge, maybe there’s going to be a woman that’s going to be able to hold her own in a men’s league,” Ionescu said. “And so, I do think that opportunity could be huge and really could be groundbreaking in the sport category.”

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Geoff Schwartz.

Sabrina Ionescu has her sights set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021

Sabrina Ionescu has her sights set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021

Sabrina Ionescu has always dreamed of playing in the Olympics.

Since she was a young girl, Ionescu says she’s loved seeing which players land on the Olympic team rosters and watched with a curious eye as games unfolded.

Now, the WNBA's No. 1 overall pick might actually have a chance at competing in the Tokyo Games in 2021.

“I hope so,” Ionescu told Ernie Johnson on the NBA’s Twitter Live on Wednesday. “I’m doing everything I can to be ready for that and get ready for that. Obviously, it’s not really up to me at this point as long as I’m performing and doing everything that I can.”

The former Oregon star missed key U.S. Women’s National Team activities last fall and winter, as they occurred during her time with the Ducks. However, she competed in the 3x3 in 2018, clinching gold in her second tournament alongside Oregon teammates Erin Boley, Oti Gildon and Ruthy Hebard.

At the 2019 Pan American Games, Ionescu told the Olympic Channel she preferred the 3x3 to the 5x5 if she had to choose.

Now that Ionescu has an extra year until the Olympics and a year competing against the WNBA’s top talent, she could be available for more national team activities this upcoming fall and winter.

Ionescu could contend for a roster spot at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2021, either on the full national team or the 3x3 version. 3x3 basketball will make its debut in 2021.

It would be an honor to represent my country in the Olympics. Obviously with a year, now being pushed back now, I’ll just be able to prepare myself at an even higher level playing against the top players in the country.” - Sabrina Ionescu

Ionescu has already played on a number of U.S. national teams since she was a teenager. She was part of the 2017 U23 team that won an inaugural U24 Four Nations Tournament Title. In 2014, Ionescu was also on a U17 World Cup Team that went undefeated and took home the gold in Pilsen, Czech Republic. 

Listen to Geoff Schwartz on the latest episode of the Talkin' Ducks podcast here.

It's not how, but how much Sabrina Ionescu will change the game

It's not how, but how much Sabrina Ionescu will change the game

Over the last two months amid the NBA hiatus, TNT’s Ernie Johnson has hosted a weekly half-hour show live on the NBA’s Twitter page called ‘NBA Together with Ernie Johnson.’

After having guests like Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard and NBA greats such as Steve Nash and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it seems only fitting that Oregon’s own Sabrina Ionescu would be the first woman to join the show.

Watching the former Oregon Duck point guard describe what she’s been doing to stay active during this global pandemic, there was something different about this interview.

She spoke with confidence and poise, which is not out of the ordinary for Ionescu by any means, but it definitely didn’t feel as though she was just about to enter her rookie season in the WNBA. 

Ionescu is already a veteran of the interview game.

Many basketball fans don’t often think about what professional athletes do outside of the game they are getting paid to play.

But, in all reality, doing national and local interviews is part of the gig.

And, Sabrina’s interview game is strong.

She has made her presence felt in the college game as a woman. That IS out of the ordinary.

She has had NBA players take notice.   

Sure, she may still be short with her answers from time to time, but that’s to be expected from a recent college graduate.

To be a reporter covering the New York Liberty’s No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft will be an honor and not just because they will get to witness her play on the court.

Sabrina will be building her brand in the Big Apple for all eyes to see. She already understands that she can use her platform for much more than just the game.  

I think I’ve learned that through the years, I don’t just want to be a basketball player. I want to stand for a lot more than that and it’s really a lot bigger than the sport you’re playing. So, hopefully whether that’s women in sports, women’s equality, I can hopefully stand for something that’s a lot bigger than just basketball. -- Sabrina Ionescu

At just 22 years old, and only a month away from earning her Master’s Degree from the University of Oregon, Ionescu’s play speaks for itself.

She’s a phenomenal player with an amazing work ethic that made Steph Curry and Kobe Bryant take notice, but her voice is also about to be heard.

She says “hopefully” her brand will stand for something bigger than basketball. Witnessing her career at Oregon and watching how she not only conducts herself in interviews, but also on her social media platforms, there’s not doubt she will leave her mark on the WNBA.

[RELATED] Sabrina Ionescu is a brand and she already knows how to leverage it

And honestly, the question isn’t:

How will the NCAA’s all-time leader in career triple-double impact women in sports?

The question is: HOW MASSIVE OF AN IMPACT WILL SHE have on the WNBA and on young women all over the world?

Having a story like she has where she would wait in the stands of her brother’s middle school basketball games, hoping not enough players would show up so that she’d get the opportunity to lace ‘em up, is what young girls love to hear.   

Sabrina says she was around three years old when she first picked up a basketball.

But, during her middle school days, there was only a boy basketball program. That didn’t sit well with her father, Dan Ionescu. 

“The after school program was supposed to have a girls team. My dad went into the office and told them, ‘hey can Sabrina play with her brother on the guys team?’ And, they were like, ‘no, we don’t allow girls on the guys team, she should be playing with dolls.’ My dad was… My dad had a little temper, he was a little bit mad like all dads would probably be,” Ionescu said with a smile.    

Ionescu’s showing there’s still a possibility she could still play with the guys.

Watch the entire interview here

Former Oregon State standout Mikayla Pivec shows off new look with Atlanta Dream 

Former Oregon State standout Mikayla Pivec shows off new look with Atlanta Dream 

Mikayla Pivec is wasting no time showing off her new basketball threads. 

The former Oregon State star’s dream came true, quite literally, in April when Pivec heard her name called by the Atlanta Dream the the 25th overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. 

Pivec looked good in Beaver Orange and black, but now the 5-10 guard will have a choice of color options at her disposal with the Dream. 

What will she choose… white, grey, blue, red, or light blue? Ask Mikayla herself, who displayed her incredible new gear in a video via the Atlanta Dream’s Twitter account on Sunday. 

“Good morning to Mikayla Pivec and Mikayla Pivec only,” the Atlanta Dream tweeted. 

After Pivec became the fifth Oregon State player to be selected over the past five WNBA drafts, she told the Dream she was ready to take advantage of her opportunity. 

“You grow up watching these amazing players and being able to be on that stage will be a huge accomplishment,” Pivec said. “I’m somebody that is going to do all of the little things for the team and do whatever it takes.”

Pivec reflected on her time at Oregon State, as well as what she’s been up to since the coronavirus pandemic hit on the Talkin’ Beavers podcast with Ron Callan. 

While Pivec is excited to don her new colors with the Atlanta Dream, Beaver Nation will forever hold onto her successful moments at Oregon State, capped off in orange and black.   

Sabrina Ionescu is a brand and she already knows how to leverage it

Sabrina Ionescu is a brand and she already knows how to leverage it

Longtime sports broadcaster Ann Schatz knows a thing or two about young talent moving on from their college teams to the professional world.

Schatz, who currently works for the Portland Thorns, broadcasting the games while also commentating for many other national broadcasts, has watched rising superstar Sabrina Ionescu from both on and off the court perspectives.   

“Branding in a way that’s really refreshing… That’s Sabrina Ionescu,” Schatz said in a recent interview with NBCSNW.  

“She gets social media, she gets branding, she gets platforms. She gets in order to have those platforms, I’ve got to be accessible, I’ve got to be out there, I’ve got to be with the fans, one with them, and I’ve got to be a great player.”

As Ionescu embarks on the next chapter in her life of transitioning from college ball to the WNBA, she has a leg up on already understanding how to carry herself as a professional athlete.

Having a mentor such as Warriors guard Stephen Curry probably didn’t hurt either when thinking about how Ionescu has not only made a name for herself on the court, but also the way she carries herself, interacts with fans and media, as well as, how she has already handled the pressures of being the new face of the WNBA.

[RELATED]: Sabrina Ionescu signs with Nike after being selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft

But, let’s not get it twisted: Ionescu’s game speaks for itself.

“I think Sabrina’s ability to handle the ball, set up her teammates, get those assists and if she needs to take over a game scoring wise -- she can do that,” Schatz added.

The long list of accolades and accomplishments Sarbrina has already reached, including, becoming the first NCAA player to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds in her college career, is now in the rearview mirror.  As the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s WNBA draft, Oregon Ducks fans and many basketball fans around the world have now become a New York Liberty fan, rooting for Ionescu.

Schatz, like the rest of us, is ready to witness Sabrina’s greatness at the next level and all that comes with stardom.

Hear more from Ann Schatz on Sabrina in the video above. 

What the Atlanta Dream saw in Mikayla Pivec

What the Atlanta Dream saw in Mikayla Pivec

It was a crazy Friday for Mikayla Pivec

A lot of people might be thinking that getting drafted at the top of the WNBA's third round is disappointing for Mikayla. But, talk to any basketball insider. Getting a chance to play in the WNBA is one of the hardest things to accomplish in sports. Just 12 teams with 12 player rosters. The draft just three rounds and 36 players. The only thing more difficult might be getting selected to play for the Olympic team.

Pivec got the word she was heading to Atlanta and in true Mikayla style showed off her positive energy to Atlanta fans!

Pivec is currently in Boise, Idaho hanging with her little sister Malia who is a junior at Boise State University and a standout on the Broncos Cross Country team. 

In fact, both of them are on our Talkin’ Beavers Podcast this week talking about a ton of stuff including how weird it is to be just waiting and wondering when things will get back to normal.

Why did the Dream draft Pivec? 

Well during a post-draft news conference, head coach Nicki Collen and her staff say they love her versatility, her strength and her commitment to defense. Pivec also has a comfort zone because two of her fellow draftees played with her on Team USA last August in Lima, Peru: Chennedy Carter from Texas A&M; and Brittany Brewer, who played at Texas Tech. 

Plus former Oregon Duck Maite Cazorla and UCLA Bruin Monique Billings are on the roster so she has plenty of familiar faces to play basketball with in Atlanta. 

Now the big question is when will they be able to actually get back together and play hoops? The are going to have virtual workouts with the Dream staff online.

You can watch more in the video above with an introductory Zoom press conference with the newest members of the Dream.

Talkin' Blazers: Why it's time to cancel the NBA season

Talkin' Blazers: Why it's time to cancel the NBA season

March 11th. That was the last time any NBA players stepped foot on the court. It's been more than a month, and a return to the hardwood feels no closer than it did weeks ago. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the leagues around the world will have to evolve with it. 

On Friday night the WNBA held its draft, doing so virtually. No large gatherings, no green room, just Zoom calls and Facetime. In the coming days, the NFL will do the same. 

But just because players are being drafted and front offices are making moves doesn't mean the game itself is close to being played. 

A lot goes into being ready. For leagues yet to start the new season there is still plenty of time to formulate a plan. But for a league like the NBA, which suspended its season just a few weeks before the playoffs, it may be too late to get the engine back up and running. 

On the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast, hosts Channing Frye, Dan Sheldon, and special guest Monte Poole talked about where the NBA goes from here. For Frye, the answer is easy:

Why spend so much energy trying to get a mix-match. hodgepodge season going right now? Stop it. This is a pandemic, like world-wide. so why focus on this little month or two? The season is over.  - Channing Frye

But is the season really lost? In recent days, reports have surfaced that the NBA could still resume play in a single-site location, where all teams can remain isolated and contain the spread of the virus while finishing the regular season and playoffs.

Sites such as Las Vegas, Hawaii, The Bahamas, and even Walt Disney World had been floated as possible locations to take on the task.

Even if an avenue is found to resume the season, Frye just doesn't believe it makes much sense to do so at this point. 

I love basketball. I love sports. I think it's great. But let's get some things in place to make sure everyone is safe. Get the fans next year back in the arenas. Get them their jobs back. Let's get this going. But this year, this summer, I think we need to take care of America - Channing Frye

Will the 2019-2010 season ever begin again? Only time will tell. 

ATTN WNBA: Oregon’s Minyon Moore is still out there

ATTN WNBA: Oregon’s Minyon Moore is still out there

As the 2020 WNBA Draft night came to a close, it was a historic event for the Oregon women’s basketball team. 

After finishing at the top of the Pac-12 Conference, led by their ‘Big 3’ of Sabrina Ionescu (No. 1 to the New York Liberty), Satou Sabally (No. 2 to the Dallas Wings), and Ruthy Hebard (No. 8 to the Chicago Sky), and finishing the shortened season with a final No. 2 national ranking, there was one name that was not called that deserves a lot of the credit for Oregon’s success last year.

Minyon Moore.

The defensive specialist that wreaked havoc on opposing guards was left without a home to call in the WNBA. At least for now. 

Moore was a projected mid-late third round draft pick, but ultimately did not receive the call. While Moore was a menace on the defensive end of the court, it was likely her lack of offensive threat that did not turn the WNBA’s eyes her way. 

This brings up a good opportunity to hopefully advocate for more opportunities in the future for women’s basketball at the professional level. 

What happens to all that talent that doesn’t make a WNBA roster?

The WNBA Draft is three rounds, 36 total selections. That’s 36 out of thousands of players in NCAA women’s basketball. The chances of being selected as one of those 36 is slim. 

Before the draft, analyst Rebecca Lobo and reporter Holly Rowe held a phone press conference with members of the national media to talk about the upcoming draft:

It’s the hardest professional league to make in terms of the percentage of people that play. There’s 144 jobs when every team is carrying a full roster. Beginning this season, not every team will be carrying a full roster of 12. A couple [teams] will have to have 11 until a certain point of the season when the salary cap will allow them to fit 12. It is very, very difficult to make a WNBA roster, even more difficult for a second round pick or a third round pick to make it. — Rebecca Lobo

A lot of players will look overseas for playing opportunities at the professional level. 

Or some look to open tryouts. After registering for the open tryouts, you are allowed to try out in front of all the coaches. From here, the original group is whittled down to a smaller group who are then asked back for an additional tryout. The ultimate goal is to get an invitation to training camp.

We just hope that some team will give Moore that opportunity because we all know what she can do on the court.

Ruthy Hebard selected No. 8 to the Chicago Sky in the 2020 WNBA Draft

Ruthy Hebard selected No. 8 to the Chicago Sky in the 2020 WNBA Draft

With the 8th pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, the Chicago Sky selected Ruthy Hebard from the University of Oregon.

SENIOR YEAR STATS:

17.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 68.5 field goal percentage (No. 1 in the nation).

6-foot-4 forward, Fairbanks, Alaska

The Katrina McClain award winner for the nation’s top forward is headed the Windy City. Good thing she's used to cold weather after growing up in Alaska and playing college basketball in Eugene.

QUICK GLIMPSE AT THE CHICAGO SKY:

The Sky returned to the postseason in 2019 after a two-season drought under new head coach James Wade. They made the second round of the postseason, losing to the Las Vegas Aces on the road on a buzzer-beater. 

Hebard will join former-Gonzaga guard Courtney Vandersloot who also played college basketball for Kelly Graves. 

Look out for Ruthy to run the pick-and-roll with Sky guard Diamond DeShields who averaged 15.3 points in her sophomore WNBA season, including averaging 24 points per game in the postseason. Her hot shooting should open up the paint for Hebard. 

More to come on how Hebard fits in the Sky's system later.