By Rob Moseley
It’s Brenner time.
OK, so it’s always Brenner time somewhere around the Oregon athletic department. In this case, it’s Brenner time for the UO women’s basketball team, which welcomed multi-sport star Liz Brenner to practice Monday.
Brenner, the Ducks’ second-leading rebounder last season, is just over a week removed from competing with the Oregon volleyball team, which reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She practiced again with the basketball team Tuesday morning, after which UO coach Paul Westhead was to make a determination regarding her availability for games.
The ultra-competitive Brenner had her own prediction prior to Tuesday’s practice about when she’d make her debut in a game.
“Tomorrow,” Brenner said matter-of-factly.
That would put Brenner on the court for a visit by Southern to Matthew Knight Arena on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Or, Brenner could take a couple more days and debut Friday against Cal Poly in Matt Arena at 7 p.m.
Either way, it’s Brenner time this week for the Ducks (6-2).
“She’s a very solid player, so it’s beneficial,” UO senior guard Ariel Thomas said. “She’s a great outlet passer and she’s really strong, so she can definitely help.”
In positive news for both Brenner and the rest of the UO women’s basketball team, however, her arrival isn’t nearly as critical a development as it was a year ago. Then, the Ducks were crippled by injury. Brenner played 21 minutes in her debut, and within two games was in the starting lineup and playing 30 minutes.
This season, Oregon is cruising along with a super-charged offense led by Jillian Alleyne, Katelyn Loper and Chrishae Rowe. Brenner can be used in shorter spurts, as a complementary player, rather than being looked to as a critical piece right off the bat.
“I’m a little rusty, but getting back into the swing of things,” Brenner said. “Getting my legs ready to run was hard, but I’ll get there.”
Brenner said there’s “a huge difference” between volleyball shape and basketball shape.
“Volleyball, we don’t run,” she said. “Our conditioning is just playing – long rallies, jumping, doing that kind of stuff. I haven’t run since the summer, probably, so this is a big difference for my body right now. It takes a couple weeks to get used to it.”
Brenner attended a few women’s games earlier this season, calling the team “a lot deeper” and herself “really excited for what the season’s going to bring.”
She spent the first three days last week in Eugene taking final exams, then returned home to Portland for a break with family. She was back in Eugene on Sunday, for basketball practice Monday morning.
“She’s going to be a nice help for us,” Westhead said.