How half-court shots signal go time for Oregon women’s hoops
It’s the parting shot of every Oregon women’s basketball shootaround.
The team gathers near midcourt for a half-court shot, a tradition that Kelly Graves has relied on since the beginning of his coaching career at Big Bend Community College. Visitors watching the team’s walk-through are encouraged to join in on the action.
Everyone’s included, from student managers to the team’s longtime play-by-play man Terry Jonz.
The moment not only energizes the Ducks, but it simulates the touch needed for a game-winning shot. Though Sabrina Ionescu’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer at Cal wasn’t quite half-court distance, players say the practice before each game gives them added confidence from long range.
“It definitely fires us up,” senior Mar’Shay Moore said. “When we make it or if we don’t make it, it makes us want to make more so we’re all just chucking up shots.
Added Moore: “It’s meaningful to me. If you practice it to a certain extent, you’re bound to start making them.”
Moore was quick to recall Maite Cazorla’s buzzer-beater in the first half of Oregon’s game again Arizona last year.
Oregon Ducks Women’s Basketball won big over Arizona today, in part thanks to this first-quarter buzzer beater from Oregon’s Maite Cazorla! #Pac12WBB
Complete highlights: pac-12.com
Posted by Pac-12 Conference on Sunday, 31 January 2016
For Ionescu, the half-court shot has become a pregame ritual. Before Oregon at Miramonte High School, Ionescu and her teammates worked the routine into their routine as well. If she doesn’t make it initially, she stays on the court until she sinks it, sometimes for 15 or 20 minutes.
Oregon’s competitive freshman doesn’t board the bus or head to the locker room without a ‘swish.’
“It’s kind of like a good luck thing,” Ionescu said. “It’s like, ‘We’re ready to go.’ It’s the last shot before the game. I know for me it’s kind of a superstitious thing. I always have to make one.”
— Oregon WBB (@OregonWBB) February 5, 2016
Over the years, there have been plenty of highlights from the tradition. One time during shootaround at Stanford, Moore and junior Lexi Bando both connected at the same time. That led to plenty of celebration.
“Bando shot and I shot right after [each other],” Moore said. “Hers went in. Mine went in too. We just went so crazy and wild. It’s definitely fun.”
Other times, fourth-year student manager Ryan Fingerett has fired up the team with a made shot. Oregon sports information director Joe Waltasti is known for his over-the-head attempts.
Graves uses the moment to simulate a game-winning bucket.
“You never know if a game comes down to something like that,” he said. “I think every team in the country does that to some degree — something like it.”
Moore said the sequence signifies time to “lock in” for the upcoming game.
“It’s the final shot,” Moore said. “It’s like, ‘Now we’re finished up. Time to get buckets.’ ”
Follow Jonathan Hawthorne on Twitter @Jon_Hawthorne