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Move to WCC could affect Oregon State roster

ALBANY, N.Y. — Oregon State plays for a chance to make the women’s Final Four against No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday. But when the season comes to an end, coach Scott Rueck says he knows he will have to confront questions about the future and the very real possibility that teams might begin poaching his players.

Rueck remains focused on the task at hand, but he also acknowledged that reality during a news conference Saturday previewing the matchup against the Gamecocks. Making it to the Elite Eight in its final Pac-12 season, with a young team that features no seniors, has been incredibly gratifying for Rueck.

But what comes next, and a fear that players might leave through the transfer portal, does not have him necessarily worried today. It will be something that must be addressed, though.

“That’s reality,” Rueck said. “I can’t control that, other than just keep doing what I’m doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you’d better be on your A game all the time. You’d better take care of people, and you’d better provide a great experience. That’s the approach going forward, and what happens, happens. We’ll find a way.”

Raegan Beers acknowledged that midway through the season, she could not help but think about what realignment would mean for her future and the future of her team. Following the breakup of the Pac-12, Oregon State will move to the West Coast Conference to play basketball and will no longer be in a Power 5 conference.

Beers said she had a conversation with Rueck before their NCAA tournament run began as a way to clear her mind.

“When that was first announced, I thought about it a lot,” Beers said. “Especially in January, I thought about it a ton, just what’s it going to look like next year? We’re going to be in the WCC, so just playing teams there compared to playing in the Pac-12 is going to be completely different. What’s our conference going to look like?

“That was not a healthy mindset to have in February and March, thinking about what’s going to happen next year. Staying in the present is super important with this team with everything going on, with all the people that are maybe telling you what to do or expecting you to do this or that when the season’s over. I’m just staying present.”

Guard Talia von Oelhoffen said she feels the team has done a good job of staying in the moment, particularly during this tournament run, but said she knows there will be plenty to address when the season comes to an end.

“The future is uncertain in that regard,” von Oelhoffen said. “But we can only control what we can control, and our focus is on this season and this year. I’m sure there will be questions after the season, and it’s definitely going to be something that needs to be addressed and talked about just because we don’t know what next year is going to look like.

“But this group has been so good about just staying present and taking games one possession at a time, one game at a time, and when you’re doing that, then conference realignment, the portal, all of that, it’s not a factor.”

Given its surprising run to the Elite Eight, von Oelhoffen put together a TikTok in which they made their case to be America’s Team.

“We’re selfless, we play together, we’re a family, and that’s a story, that’s a headline that I can get behind and I think a lot of people should, too,” she said.

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