dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

Teamwork Taught By Women’s Basketball

March 1st, 2019 by dk

I’ve attended a dozen basketball games at Matthew Knight Arena in the past year. After watching the men’s team, I leave wishing I were a better athlete. After watching the women play, I want to be a better person.

The men seem to be playing for any pro scout in attendance or some videographer collecting material for a highlight reel. I feel like one of those people staged behind any politician making any grand announcement — part of the scenery. I could be replaced tomorrow if they teach potted plants to smile, or cheer.

It’s a different story with the women. The players make eye contact with familiar faces. Hugging somebody seated in the front row is not unheard of. When laud a player’s move, there’s a hint of an acknowledging smile. When the screen tells fans to “Make Noise,” it’s easy to believe it will make a difference. We feel heard.

Head Coach Kelly Graves and his players talk often and easily about themselves as family. Deep connections are being forged with one another and the crowd. Graves wants to “pack the Matt” tonight against the surging Utah Utes because his team needs the competitive edge of an excited crowd. We’ll be more than ready to “Make Noise.”

After any game is over, listen to whatever player rose to the top that night. No matter how hard the interviewer may try, they won’t accept praise for their own performance. Credit will always be passed to teammates, the coaches, or the fans. In other words, the players keep dishing out assists after the final buzzer sounds.

It’s no wonder this team logs more assists and fewer turnovers than almost any team in the nation. Ruthy Hebard and Sabrina Ionescu execute the pick-and-roll like a Las Vegas magician act. When Maite Cazorla passes the ball to Erin Boley’s hot hand, it looks like a life-sized video game.

Nobody cares to take credit, because Graves’ system is built to make everybody look good. Week after week, night after night, they’re showing the world what teamwork looks like.

It looks like fun. Opponents are respected. Referees, too. I haven’t seen a single Duck foul out this season. It’s a joy to watch them play a game they so clearly love.

Even the blow-outs have been fun to watch. Satou Sabally may unreel a spin move she’s never shown us before. Taylor Chavez might steal a ball with quick reflexes and mind control. Ionescu could log another record-breaking triple-double, putting more distance between her and every other college player, ever.

I have only one complaint, and it’s not with the players. The sports marketing department should retire the T-shirt cannon from women’s games. It’s overly militaristic for a game that features so much sharing. It malfunctions most of the time. The cheer team is perfectly capable of throwing far enough to reach most fans. They make eye contact before they throw, creating more connections.

Join us. Tickets are inexpensive and there’s free popcorn. If we make them a better team, maybe they help us become better people. Win, win.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.