Oregon women’s basketball team see hope in upcoming games from improved health in players

Senior forward Amanda Johnson (11) looks out of the huddle during a timeout. (Nate Barrett/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Senior forward Amanda Johnson (11) looks out of the huddle during a timeout. (Nate Barrett/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Posted by Aubrey Wieber on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 10:11 am.

The Oregon women’s basketball team may be sitting on a lousy 2-12 record, but they have more reason that ever to see a glimpse of optimism in their season. While at one point they had only seven players available, they now hold 12. Not only does this help them in games, but it provides a more team-like atmosphere where the young team can gel.

“We are so excited,” freshman Devyn Galland said of the bigger roster. “Everyone starts trickling in, every other month we get a new person, so that’s nice. It definitely make makes for a happier, stronger team. The people that are coming in, they’ve sat out for months, so they are coming in with energy and are ready to contribute.”

While this improved locker room attitude hasn’t translated to victories, it has help the Ducks remain competitive in games where they were expected to be blown out. The team opened up its Pac-12 play against UCLA and USC, losing by a combined 14 points. That is certainly not as close as they would like, but in a season that was at one point thought to be used as experience for the young players, staying in games against strong opponents is something they can hang their hat on.

Possibly the brightest aspect of the season is the impressive play from freshman Jillian Alleyne. The five double-doubles recorded by Alleyne this season are proof that the transition from high school to college ball was a quick one.

“It’s been a hard road transitioning from high school to college but it has been fun,” Alleyne said. “It’s good to know that I am reaching my potential.”

Alleyne has experienced a season worthy of adversity in just the 14 games played so far. She saw her roster dwindle and her responsibility sky rocket, she set school records with 38 points and 27 rebounds, she played against the third-ranked team in the country, UCONN, and now watches as the bond forms among the players.

“We have all started working together, playing defense, helping each other up,” Alleyne said of the team. “Before, we wouldn’t help each other up on fouls but now we are picking each other up, encouraging each other and believing in each other so that’s helping a lot.”

With the team seeing more players get healthy, coach Paul Westhead is better able to see what he has to work with, and the players are starting to adapt to his system. Maybe with a couple more weeks to mesh the team might see competitive games transition to victories.