sabrina ionescu

Ionescu, Sabally catch league's eye

Oregon's two standouts are among top jersey sales
Staff Report

The University of Oregon women’s basketball team had quite an impact on the WNBA this season, regardless of wins and losses.

Sabrina Ionescu and Satou Sabally, the top two picks in the league’s draft, were among the top 10 most popular jerseys sold this season through the WNBA store.

Ionescu, who plays for the New York Liberty, was No. 4, and Sabally, who plays for the Dallas Wings, was No. 10.

They were the only rookies among the top 10, which was led by Seattle’s Sue Bird.

TOP SALES WNBA.com

1. Sue Bird, Seattle Storm

2. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

3. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks

4. Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty

5. Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

6. A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

7. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm

8. Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

9. Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago Sky

10. Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings

 

 

Ionescu gets the top nod

Oregon senior goes first in WNBA Draft; Sabally, Hebard also first-round picks
Staff Report

Sabrina Ionescu hit the big-time Friday, as in New York City.

The University of Oregon senior and top college basketball player in the nation the past two years was selected No. 1 by the New York Liberty in the WNBA Draft on ESPN. The draft was held without attendees due to the COVID-19 sheltering guidelines.

Ionescu set numerous records at Oregon as well as the Pac-12, and is the only college player to finish her career with 2,000 combined points as well as 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.

"I've been working for this for my entire basketball career and super excited to see that come to fruition,'' Ionescu said from her home in California. "I'm very humbled and excited for the opportunity.''

In an early sign of what is to come in terms of merchandising clout and popularity with Ionescu, her fans rushed to the team's website to snap up her new Liberty jersey, which sold out within an hour of her being drafted No. 1.

Later in the day, Ionescu and Nike announced they had reached a marketing deal for her to wear that companies shoes.

New York won the league's draft lottery in September, having the best odds from the four teams that did not reach the league playoffs. The WNBA Draft lottery uses combined team records from the two previous seasons as part of its equation. The Liberty was 17-51 the past two seasons.

Oregon truly hit the jackpot for draft picks as fellow Duck Sabrina Sabally was selected second by the Dallas Wings and Ruthy Hebard was taken eighth by the Chicago Sky.

The league's 12 teams drafted through three rounds.

Oregon State guard Mikayla Pivec was taken by the Atlanta Dream with the first pick of the third round.

The league schedule had been slated to start May 15, but that's on hold.

IONESCU GETS UNANIMOUS APPROVAL

Returning for her senior season worked out pretty good for Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu record-wise.

Ionescu capped an unprecedented college career by entering an exclusive club Monday, March 23.

Oregon’s star guard was the unanimous choice as The Associated Press women’s basketball player of the year, receiving all 30 votes from the national media panel that selects the Top 25 each week during the season.

Since the award was first given in 1995, the only other player to receive all the votes was Breanna Stewart of Connecticut (2016).

“That’s pretty crazy - someone I look up to and have a good relationship with,” Ionescu told the AP Monday. “To be in that class with her is an honor.”

Ionescu, who was only the eighth player to earn AP All-America honors three times, shattered the NCAA career triple-double mark and became the first player in college history to have 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.

Ionescu averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds this season as well as having eight of her 26 career triple-doubles.

She helped the Ducks, who started the season ranked No. 1, win the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles. The native of Walnut Creek, California, was honored as the conference’s most outstanding player of the tournament and regular season.

Oregon had a 31-2 record and was headed toward playing host to the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, as well as a likely spot in the Portland Regional set for the Moda Center when the season abruptly ended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

The Fire should be burning in Portland

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 4:25pm
Cliff Pfenning
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An election year is a good time to debate about women's issues.

Especially, when it's an Olympic year, too (that's always the General Election). 

In the sports world, over here in Portland, women's sports actually have it pretty good these days, starting with the Portland Thorns. The Thorns, the ladies' side of the Portland Timbers franchise, regularly fill Providence Park, and can fill it up on some occasions. 

The women's soccer team at the University of Portland still has one of the proudest histories in the nation, and also can fill up Merlo Field when the right opponent shows up. Investing in women's soccer was one of the great moves the school made in the '90s with coach Clive Charles.

But, it's basketball I'm looking at these days, and that's not a part of the landscape here. It was at one time, but not today. Maybe it's time for a looksy again.

The WNBA has been around since 1997, and had the Portland Fire along for the ride from 2000-02. Team owner Paul Allen, was having trouble with hid men's team staying under the Luxury Tax - and by a lot - and couldn't seem to afford to lose any money on the women's team and tossed it.

These days, the women's game is making a big comeback ... in Oregon. In Eugene and Corvallis to be exact, and there's no reason to think it wouldn't get support in Portland again, especially with the same name and logo involved - they both fit the city pretty good.

Attendance for women's basketball in Eugene actually outpaces the men's team, which happens often in Corvallis as well. It figures because both women's teams are ranked in the Top 12 and have been all season.

Oregon, the nation's preseason No. 1, is going bonkers at the gate with more than 10,000 fans per game. That's up from 4,255 just two seasons ago. Enter Sabrina Ionescu and friends, and the MAT has been rocking. The Ducks get 12,000-plus for games these days heading toward the NCAA Tournament and a run towards the school's first title in a TV sport since, before it was on TV.

The Beavers were 16th in the nation in attendance last season with more than 5,400 fans per game.

So, what's with Portland?

Portland's got all kinds of fans who want to build a baseball stadium to LURE a team to the Rose City. All the town needs for a WNBA team is an owner and a marketing team to corral a fan base.

The Fire would step right into a hot situation with Northwest rival Seattle involved with the Storm. Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix are in as well, so there's easy road trips to be had. 

Now is a perfect time for a local investor to look into this, and the league needs some new energy. It really needs some new energy for the 12 other teams. Average game attendance has fallen from 7,700 fans to 6,500 fans in just two years and things such as travelling conditions have been in the news beyond just simple salaries.

With Oregon's Ionescu figuring to be the top pick in the draft, the opportunity to begin a franchise may not be better, especially without the luxury tax on the men's team to hold it down.

 

 

Ducks start as Preseason favorites

Oregon's women are No. 1, men at No. 17
By Cliff Pfenning, Publisher

The Oregon basketball program has been improving in quality on an annual basis, but this season may be one of the finest for the combined men's and women's teams, at least according to Sports Illustrated magazine and it's preseason rankings.

Oregon starts out as No. 1 in the women's rankings, while the men are at No. 17. Only Maryland and Baylor have a women's team in the Top 10 and men's team in the Top 25. Baylor is No. 2 and 18, while Maryland is No. 5 and 7.

The Ducks are coming off perhaps their best post-season run with the women's team reaching the Final Four and the men's team getting to the Sweet 16. Only the 2017 tournament was better for the program as the men reached the Final Four, while the women played into the Elite 8.

Could this be the year for a national champion in Eugene?

Both teams are coming off Pac-12 Tournament titles.

The women open their season No. 11 with a home game against Northeastern.

The men's team, led by four-year starter Payton Pritchard, open Nov. 5 against Fresno State, and play No. 16 Memphis in Portland, Nov. 12.

 

Oregon women face key weekend

No. 6 Ducks face two ranked opponents at home
Staff report

The Oregon women's basketball team continues it's drive to make a national name for itself ahead of the NCAA Tournament this weekend when it faces Cal and Stanford at home.

And, that's great timing as the Ducks are unbeaten at Matthew Knight Arena this season.

The sixth-ranked Ducks face Cal, ranked No. 25, Friday, then Stanford, ranked No. 24, Sunday, with a shot at reaching 15-0 at home.

Oregon is ranked as high as it's ever been, and is leading the Pac-12 Conference with a shot at winning the regular-season title for the first time since 2000. The team reached 20 wins last weekend, the quickest it's gotten to that mark in program history.

The Ducks have not won the conference tournament since it began in 2002. Stanford is the defending champion and has won the tournament in all-but four years since then.

 

 

 

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