Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu is the espnW player of the week

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Updated: November 11, 2019



9:59 AM ET

Mechelle VoepelespnW.com

CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

Editor’s note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW’s national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women’s college basketball season.

EUGENE, Ore. — It’s so Sabrina. Or at least, it’s such a Sabrina Ionescu thing to do: win espnW national player of the week, even though Oregon is technically 0-0 this season. But Ionescu’s performance Saturday in the No. 1-ranked Ducks’ 93-86 victory over the U.S. national team — even though it was an exhibition game — was impossible to overlook.

Ionescu’s 30 points and seven rebounds impressed the most knowledgeable critics that she will face: WNBA players and coaches. Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird complimented Ionescu’s relentless competitiveness.

“Those are things you can’t always teach,” Bird said. “People, as the year goes on, are gonna talk about, ‘Is she a good enough shooter? Can she do this? Is she good enough for that?’

“Who cares? … If you’re competitive, that can overcome a lot.”

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Ionescu said the Ducks came into Saturday’s game thinking not about winning but only about playing the best they could. As the game went on, their confidence grew. Ionescu said four-time Olympian Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury gave the Ducks some advice about being consistently competitive.

“Diana told us to stay ‘mad,'” Ionescu said, smiling. “That was what we said before the game and at halftime. We didn’t want to come out complacent or excited we were only down four at half. In that third quarter, we came out hard, and we stayed ‘mad,’ like she told us. So thank you to her for helping us with that.”

U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx praised the way Ionescu and the Ducks ran the pick-and-roll. Oregon coach Kelly Graves was happy with his entire team’s performance but added that they haven’t played a game that counts yet. That will come Monday against Northeastern.

Ionescu was asked if she was concerned that beating the national team could add even more pressure to a season in which the Ducks’ goal is the national championship. She said she wasn’t worried about it.

“Maybe people think there are targets on our backs, but I don’t think we played like that,” she said. “I don’t think we even think about it. We’re just trying to be the best that we can every day on and off the floor.”

Also considered: Aliyah Boston, South Carolina; Brice Calip, Missouri State; Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M; Gabby Connally, Georgia; Carlie Littlefield, Princeton; Blanca Millan, Maine; Mikayla Pivec, Oregon State; Sara Rhine, Drake; Satou Sabally, Oregon



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