Greta Kampschroeder and AJ Marotte appeared a little nervous as they waited to walk into the post-game interview room in the basement of Gill Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Marotte told coach Scott Rueck he could do most of the talking, as reporters were more interested in what he had to say than Oregon State’s two freshmen. But that was certainly not the case after the duo combined to score 32 points in the Beavers’ 82-51 blowout of CSU Bakersfield.
Marotte hit 7 of 11 shots, including 4 of 6 from deep, and Kampschroeder was 4 for 8 and 3 for 5, respectively, as the two youngsters looked right at home.
Through the first three games of their college career, Marotte is averaging 11.3 points per game and Kampschroeder is scoring 9.3. Their early-season performance may not be a total surprise to Rueck, but as he said, you never know how new players are going to perform until they take the court.
“I think one of the hallmarks of our program has been to create comfortable first-year players, whether it’s a transfer or a freshman,” Rueck said. “And so to see them compete the way that they did this week over these three games, it’s really no surprise to me, but I didn’t know that before.”
“It was awesome to see them to settle in and do their thing, and that’s what we asked them to do, just be you. Here’s the system – it’s not rocket science what we do – play hard and be aggressive. I love seeing them execute and play and find their way already. And that’s what we expect and that’s what they’re delivering. And so that’s been really special to see.”
The youth movement at the guard position is more than just Marotte and Kampschroeder.
Talia von Oelhoffen, a member of that recruiting class, leads the Beavers with 15.3 points per game. Von Oelhoffen has a leg up on the other two. as she played half the season last year after graduating high school early.
All three were four-star recruits and ranked in the top 100 according to ESPN – von Oelhoffen was rated No. 25, Kampschroeder No. 32 and Marotte, No. 63.
There were numerous times over the course of the first three games when Rueck had all three on the floor at the same time. And the Beavers didn’t miss a beat.
Marotte credits the reps the players get in practice for having confidence to take – and make – the shots they have.
“And with the competition in practice, playing against these older girls, they’re making me better every day,” Marotte said.
Kampschroeder, who made her first start on Saturday, said she is happy to play any position that is needed.
“I did a little bit of point (guard) today and usually I’m on the wing, but defensively, offensively, wherever I’m needed I’m usually able to step up,” she said. “I kind of feel like that’s my role on the team now.”
The biggest adjustment so far for Kampschroeder has been the attention to detail required to play at a high level in this program and the Pac-12.
“I mean, there’s just little room for error when it comes to making mistakes … Scott’s teaching us to see things we didn’t see before and it’s crazy because it’s just a whole other level to the game,” she said.
“You don’t realize how important those things are until you get in the game, or when we go against our scout team, who’s really good, super athletic and they can steal any pass. So just learning to pay attention to detail, see different things has been a whole new change for me, but it’s making me better.”
Marotte, who had originally committed to Washington before a coaching change caused her to reconsider and eventually decide on Oregon State, knows it won’t always be as easy as it has seemed.
“It hasn’t been as hard as I thought but that’s about to change,” she said.
The Beavers are headed to Daytona, Florida, for a tournament this coming Friday and Saturday when they will take on No. 13 Michigan as well as Notre Dame. It will be an exciting and difficult order to fill.
“Playing teams like Michigan and Notre Dame, it’s crazy because I’ve been dreaming of games like that ever since I was young,” Kampschroeder said. “So it’s more just exciting than it is nerve racking.
“I’m just really looking forward to the challenge and doing it with my team and I think we’re ready. We’ll prepare next week for those teams but, yeah, it’s going to be a really fun challenge.”