Goodman off to very good start for Beavers
CORVALLIS — It is Aleah Goodman's first season of college basketball, but the La Salle Prep grad hasn't played like a freshman for Oregon State.
The 5-9 Goodman has shared backup point guard with junior Taylor Kalmer behind starter Mikayla Pivec for the 15th-ranked Beavers, who swept UCLA and Southern Cal over the weekend to wrap up their home regular-season schedule.
Goodman has averaged 6.8 points and 2.3 assists in 16.9 minutes per game and leads the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage at a sparkling .506. She would be leading the nation in the latter category, too, but the NCAA requirement is two makes a game. Goodman has sunk 43 treys in 24 appearances.
"Aleah has been phenomenal," coach Scott Rueck says. "Her basketball IQ is off the charts. Her skill set is off the charts. She is learning to survive athletically in this conference. That's where some of her hurdles have come — defensively and in rebounding.
"But you look at what she creates offensively for our team — there's no weakness. She can beat people off the dribble, create her own shot, and her passes are on point and on time. I'm really pleased with everything she has brought to us."
Goodman was a three-time Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year, leading La Salle to state championships as a sophomore and senior. But the Pac-12 is a significant step up in competition, and she is going up against some of the most athletic guards in the country.
"There have been some ups and downs, but it's gone really good," she says. "I've learned to make the most of every chance I get to go out there and do my thing.
"The goal is for the team to win, and that's my goal as well. I'm going to do whatever I can to help us do that."
Goodman scored 12 points in 20 minutes in her college debut against Utah Valley, sinking 4 of 4 from 3-point range. She has made her most significant contributions of late, scoring 27 points and hitting 8 of 12 from beyond the arc in road victories over Washington State and Washington on Feb. 9 and 11. In Sunday's 69-63 win over Southern Cal, Goodman hit her only shot — from the 3-point line — in a seven-minute appearance.
"I watched her play so many times in high school and in AAU and summer ball," Rueck says. "She has the ability to create her shot over the top of a ball screen. You don't see that. (Ex-Beaver All-American) Sydney Wiese was able to do that, but there are very few who are comfortable with that shot, and Aleah has had that for years.
"What I love is her IQ. She's a coach on the floor. She's a leader because of that. From Day One, she has brought that to our team. She asks the right question, makes the right comment at the right time. She has a great feel for the game."
Coming off the bench and playing limited minutes has been an adjustment.
"It's hard," Goodman says. "I'm used to playing the entire game, or close to it. That's the way it was in high school, and usually on club teams, I played big minutes, too.
"It's been a change, but I've taken it as a challenge to keep myself ready whenever I get a chance, and to watch and learn. I watch Mik do it, I watch Katie (McWilliams) do it, and I also get to watch one of the best leaders — Marie (Gulich, the senior center). I watch how she stays composed in big games. We might be down, but she looks like we're up by 20. Her body language hasn't changed at all.
"I've taken this year as a growing opportuity for me to learn how to lead the team and handle the ball under high pressure."
Goodman already enjoys a special relationship with Rueck.
"He knows a lot," she says. "He's a great coach. It's been good to learn from him and to be able to work together on things. He's very responsive. He lets me call plays when I'm out there, and he takes suggestions. If he says no, he explains why. We have a really good player/coach relationship."
Her first year at Oregon State has been "a pleasure."
"This community is like no other," she says. "At school, you walk around and it's really cool. You don't have a lot of schools that watch women's basketball like Oregon State does. I have professors when I walk into class and they'll say, 'Hey, great game last night.' Or random students will come up and say, 'You guys are so much fun to watch.' It's unique to see a campus and a community pay that kind of attention to us."
Oregon State loses only Gulich from this year's team. Next season, competition for the guard rotation will be fierce. Pivec is expected to move to her natural shooting guard position to share time with sharpshooter Kat Tudor. Goodman and the 5-8 Kalmer, currently a junior and from Chandler, Arizona, will be joined at the point by transfer Destiny Slocum. The 5-7 Slocum, from Meridian, Idaho, has sat out the season in Corvallis after a transfer from Maryland, where she was the Women's Basketball Coaches Association National Freshman of the Year in 2016-17.
Goodman has spent ample practice time playing alongside Slocum this season.
"We work really good together," Goodman says. "She's a great person, a great player. I'm excited to work with her next year. We bring different things to the table. If you put us together, it's going to be really good."
Rueck says that's a possibility.
"Those two can co-exist," the OSU mentor says. "The more point guards you have on the floor, the better. That's a great problem to have. Nothing negative there."