In 2017 Kelly Graves discovered the right combo for Oregon Women’s Basketball, and off the Ducks went like a rocket.
It reached its zenith in 2020 as the senior-laden team positioned itself for a National Championship run, even defeating Team USA in the process. Only one thing could stop them, a worldwide pandemic.
Still, Graves didn’t look like he was ready to slow down at all, recruiting the far and above best class in the country and seemingly setting Oregon up for more similar success.
It ended in the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a loss to Louisville, but it was a young team, and things were looking up.
The Ducks won another 20 games in 2022 and looked ready for another strong run in the big dance, but disaster struck in the opening round as they were ousted by Belmont.
That, it seemed, started the hemorrhaging.
2023 was wildly inconsistent, and even though they finished with 20 total wins, the Ducks had a losing conference record and missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since that magical 2017 run.
Now, in early 2024, Graves may be loosening his grip on the helm of Women’s Basketball with each lackluster performance.
Not only did he lose his two best players to transfer, but the losses Oregon is enduring have been downright embarrassing in some instances.
The Ducks lost by 39 points to Santa Clara. They lost by 31 to Portland. Neither was ranked, or even played in a Power 5 conference.
Baylor handled them by 20, then in their conference games it got even uglier.
The Ducks are 0-3, losing the trifecta of games by a total of 61 points. There’s no cohesion, no chemistry, and no rhythm. Oregon simply puts up shots from wherever they deem worthy and is as porous as a sponge defensively.
This is the same program that was consistently selling out MKA and defeating nationally ranked teams on a regular basis only a few short years ago.
Its understandable that a generational talent like Sabrina Ionescu isn’t going to show up every other year. But the recruiting has been there in recent years, Graves just hasn’t been coaching it up.
Now, he can’t even hang on to his best players.
How much longer can he hang on to his job?