Postseason preview: Ducks ready for clean slate in advance of Pac-12 Championships in Tucson
Starting this week, the Ducks will get exactly what they need: a fresh start. Postseason play kicks off with regional tournaments two weeks from Monday but Oregon needs to take care of business in conference first.
This week, Oregon competes in Tucson, Arizona, for the Pac-12 Championships, which kick off today and run until Wednesday. It’s the first leg of the journey back to the NCAA Championship.
The Ducks, as a team, have struggled over the last several months. They haven’t finished better than sixth place in a tournament since February. But what they love about this time of year is, no matter what happened before, every team has a clean slate.
“Everything starts over in the postseason and that’s really the message that we’ve sent over the past few years,” head coach Ria Scott said. “You can throw your ranking out the window. The women’s basketball team sure showed that.”
The Ducks attributed their struggles to a number of issues. They said they weren’t in a great place mentally in February and March and that they came out flat in several tournaments. Scott noticed similar things. She’s been working with her players and staff to fix these problems.
“The tournament rounds for the last couple months — we’ve had them rate all of these areas that are controllable for them like nutrition, hydration, attitude, self-talk, composure and poise, all of these things that are controllable,” Scott said. “We’re really just emphasizing how they can be aware of that and make those adjustments on the golf course because those things are in their hands.”
The spring season got off a nice start for the Ducks when they finished second at their first tournament of the spring, the Peg Barnard Invitational. However, they struggled over their next three tournaments. Oregon finished last in the Gifford Great 8, 11th in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and 13th in the Bryan National.
“Both of those tournaments [Bryan National and Allstate Sugar Bowl], I know they’re very good tournament fields,” Scott said. “So, really at either of those events an eighth place finish or better would’ve been very solid.”
Scott and her players have repeatedly talked about how results in spring don’t necessarily matter as long as you’re ranked in the top-50 by the time regional tournaments roll around. What matters to the Ducks is that they are hitting stride and playing their best golf by the time May rolls around. They don’t feel like their results over the spring reflect how talented they are as a team.
“On paper, we should be the best team, excluding last year, in program history,” senior Cathleen Santoso said. “We’ve got great players, so it’s just annoying to see the results not following. But we all know the important time is now and the next month or two. So, we just need to forget the past tournaments when we played terribly and just learn from those.”
Santoso said that they should be locked for regionals based on how strong the competition is in the conference. The Pac-12 has five teams ranked in the top-25, so even a poor showing shouldn’t hurt the team’s ranking too much.
But the Ducks aren’t worried about rankings. They’re just ready to hit the course and prove that their best golf is still ahead of them.
“For this tournament, we are ready,” senior Marcella Pranovia said. “I am confident.”
After the Pac-12 Championships conclude on Wednesday, Oregon will find out its regional location on Thursday.
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris