CORVALLIS, Ore. – For the second time in his four seasons, Oregon State’s Scott Rueck was chosen as the Pac-12 Coach of the Year as voted on by the media who regularly cover the conference’s women’s basketball teams it was announced on Wednesday.
Rueck, who is the only two-time winner of the Coach of the Year award, was joined on the media teams by freshman Sydney Wiese and sophomore Ruth Hamblin. Both were selected All-Pac-12, Hamblin also earned a spot on the five-member All-Defensive Team and Wiese was also one of five All-Freshman performers. Media awards have supplemented those voted on by the conference’s coaches since 2010.
Rueck has been the architect of an accelerated four-year turnaround of the women’s basketball program at Oregon State, which has culminated in 2013-14 with one of the greatest seasons in school history. The Beavers are 21-9 overall, just their sixth 21-win campaign and first since 1995-96. OSU’s 13-5 conference record was a new program best and it tied for second in the final conference standings, tying the program’s best finish as a conference member (1996).
The Beavers finished their Pac-12 slate by winning nine consecutive games, tying the third-longest stretch in program history, one which was last accomplished during the 1995-96 season. During the run, OSU is shooting 47.7 percent and scoring 68.3 ppg while holding its opponents to 33.6 percent from the floor and 51.4 ppg. Each win during the streak has been by at least 10 points and the last three have come by 20 or more.
OSU went a school-record 14-1 at home this season with its only loss coming on No. 2 and undefeated Notre Dame on De. 29. Thirteen of those 14 wins came by double digits. The Beavers were also a perfect 9-0 in home conference games for the first time.
As a byproduct of their unblemished run, Rueck’s Beavers have vaulted themselves into the national conversation and are in position to receive the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. No Pac-12 conference member with 13 league victories has ever been left out of the field. Every 20-win Pac-12 school with 12 league victories has been invited to the NCAA Tournament. Five Pac-12 teams have gotten to 12 conference wins and not received an invite, but none won 20 total games.
As of the most recent release of the official NCAA RPI ratings (March 3), the Beavers sit in 34th, thanks in large part to playing the nation’s 40th-toughest schedule (WarrenNolan.com). Of Oregon State’s nine losses, five came to teams in the Associated Press Top-25.
Oregon State is tied for 28th in the AP Top 25. The Beavers haven’t been ranked in that poll since finishing the 1995-96 season 22nd in the nation. Since then, the program had only received votes for three weeks early in the 2008-09 season following a 9-1 start, capped off with 11 votes in the Dec. 29, 2008 poll.
The Beavers are also 26th in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll. Their 40 points are just 13 behind No. 25 DePaul. OSU has not been ranked by the nation’s coaches since checking in a No. 20 on March 11, 1996.
Wednesday’s honor for Rueck comes on the heels of his selection as the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by ESPN on Tuesday. Sunday's 66-43 win over No. 20 Arizona State was his 500th game as a collegiate head coach. He owns career record of 348-152 (.696).
Already the school single-season record holder, Sydney Wiese has netted 94 threes, the third-most in a season in Pac-12 history and the highest-ever total for a conference freshman. Her 3-point field goal percentage (.441) is ninth in the nation and those 94 makes are tied for fifth in the country. The freshman is also already in 10th on the school’s career 3-point list.
Wiese has poured in 408 points this season on just 290 attempts from the field and is shooting 45.9 percent from the floor. That clip is 10th overall in the Pac-12 and second among the league’s guards. She is just the fifth OSU freshman to tally 400 points in a season and first since Tanja Kostic put up 473 in 1992-93. Wiese averages 13.6 points and 4.0 assists in 33.5 minutes per game.
Ruth Hamblin’s single-game school-record 10 rejections against Oregon on Jan. 13 came just two weeks after she tied the previous mark with nine against No. 2 Notre Dame on Dec. 29. With those performances, she has two of the 10 best single-game blocking totals in the NCAA this year.
She has 115 total, which is second in the NCAA, and averages 3.83 per game, a rate which is fourth in the country. She has 147 career blocks to her name in just 58 games, already sixth all-time at Oregon State. Her 115 blocks are currently tied for both the OSU single-season record and second in Pac-12 history. She needs just five more rejections to break the conference record. Hamblin averages more blocks than 249 teams in the country.
Hamblin was also the most efficient Pac-12 player from the floor in conference games. She made 99-of-146 from the field in league contests, a 67.8 percent clip and a new school record in Pac-12 play. Hamblin is third in the Pac-12 from the field when including non-conference games, shooting 59.9 percent (130-of-217) overall this season.
She averages 10.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game. Her 257 rebounds are the ninth most in Oregon State single-season history.
Earlier this season, Hamblin posted Oregon State’s first triple-double in 30 years against rival Oregon on Jan. 13. The 6-foot-6 sophomore totaled 23 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocks in the Beavers’ 84-70 win, their seventh straight in the series. Lisa Channel was the last Beaver to accomplish the feat when she scored 16 points, had 10 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in an 84-62 Beaver win over Cal in Gill Coliseum on Feb. 11, 1984. Judy Spoelstra, also Oregon State’s coach from 1996-2005, was the first to do it when she had 10 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against Illinois State on Jan. 7, 1983, an 89-57 OSU win; a game that was also played in Gill as part of the Big ‘O’ Classic. Hamblin’s performance is one of 29 triple-doubles in the NCAA this season and one of only two by a Pac-12 player. It was the 17th triple-double in Pac-12 history and the first to be accomplished with blocks.
The Beavers, who enjoy a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, will be in action on Friday at 8:30 p.m. from KeyArena in Seattle when they match up with the winner of Washington and Utah. That game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.