Those three, simple letters are probably the best way to sum up what was the final week of the Oregon Ducks men’s basketball regular season. Back-to-back losses to Colorado and Utah not only weakened Oregon’s seeding in the Pac-12 and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, they also cost the Ducks their first Pac-12 regular season basketball title since 2002.
And yet, though hurting your seeding and losing the conference after such a good start are more than enough to make you sigh, it was the way that Oregon lost that was the most frustrating.
Sure, you could easily blame it on the altitude in Boulder and Salt Lake City or on the fatigue the Ducks must have been experiencing towards the end of the season, but these losses were so ugly that Oregon didn’t even look like a tournament team. In fact, they didn’t even look like a team at all.
In their two losses, Oregon was completely discombobulated, confused, and frustrated. They didn’t play like a team with a Pac-12 regular season title on the line. The Ducks played selfish basketball en route to taking poor shots, not playing their style of basketball, and two losses that really never saw them put up a fight.
The only good thing to come out of the weekend was the play of freshman Ben Carter as well as an outburst of points by E.J. Singler on Saturday. Other than that, Oregon fans should quickly try to wash away one of the more disastrous weekends in program history.
I mean, the Ducks went from No. 19 and No. 25 in the AP and USA Today Polls to barely even being considered this week (they received just four votes in the AP Top 25).
Needing to get back on a positive track heading into the Pac-12 Tournament and gain momentum heading into the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, here’s what the Ducks have to do to get back on track.
Find their Style
Oregon can’t shoot from three. Well, at least everybody save Dominic Artis and Singler should not attempt three-pointers.
The Ducks are a much better team when they play the style of basketball that Dana Altman has groomed them to play, and that is driving to the post and getting the edge on the inside with their big men Arsalan Kazemi and Tony Woods. Not only does this create opportunities for these two players to showcase the talent that they clearly have, it opens up the rest of the floor for Oregon to select much better shots.
For whatever reason, the Ducks have not been doing this lately. With Artis back in the mix and healthy, Oregon needs to implement the fast-paced offense they were so good at when the saw themselves to a No. 10 ranking in the nation.
Reach the Pac-12 Tournament Championship
With the way the Ducks have played lately, this could be a tall order but is more than possible. The Ducks were the top of the crop in the Pac-12 before Artis went down with his injury.
Since then, unfortunately, Oregon has sunk back into mediocrity and has been unable to get back on track with him in the game.
To reach the tourney final the Ducks will need to beat either Washington State or Washington and likely California as well, a team they have not found success against yet this year. Accomplishing this feat however, will pay huge dividends in getting Oregon’s head right before they play in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
They need to remember that they can play great basketball and beat the best of teams when they are at the top of the game. If they don’t do this, however, the Ducks may be in for a rather unimpressive showing when the entire nation sees them in the limelight once again.