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WBB: Prince departure, inconsistent play leave more questions than answers

It’s hard to tell what kind of season we can expect from Kelly Graves’ squad

Syndication: The Register Guard Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

As if there wasn’t already enough uncertainty surrounding Oregon Women’s Basketball heading into 2022-23, Friday produced a gut-punch as head coach Kelly Graves announced that redshirt senior Sedona Prince, one of the staples of the team for the past few seasons, would miss the entire season after tearing a ligament in her elbow that will require surgery.

Having graduated last May, Prince has decided to wrap up her time at Oregon and spend the next year focusing on rehabilitating her elbow in hopes that she will be able to pursue a professional career once she is fully healed.

This leaves the team without one of its pillars and adds even more questions as to how far the team can go in the rapidly approaching season. Inconsistencies plagued the team last year.

After a slew of early-season losses Oregon appeared to turn a corner with a thrilling overtime victory over Arizona followed by a relatively easy win over UConn, both of whom were ranked in the Top 10. Five more consecutive wins followed, and the Ducks looked primed and ready for the stretch run.

However, they ended that stretch run with only a .500 record over the last 10 games of the regular season. Their postseason venture was even less impressive, losing in the second round of the conference tournament and the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Women’s Basketball: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With Prince’s departure and another slew of transfers, the roster currently includes only 10 players, four of whom are freshmen. Te-Hina Paopao, the All-Conference guard, is Oregon’s primary go-to, with senior guard Endyia Rogers serving as the only other team anchor.

Obviously, it’s no secret that Graves can get the best out of his players, and Prince’s absence could open the door for sophomore center Phillipina Kyei to thrive, but as it currently sits it doesn’t appear this is a team on paper capable of legitimately competing for a conference title, and women’s basketball’s string of NCAA Tournament appearances dating back to 2017 looks to be in serious jeopardy.