Shifting the Focus
Much of the attention that has been surrounding the University of Oregon has been about its high-flying football program that has established itself as one of the best in its business. Under the watch of Head Coach Chip Kelly (who will remain with the Oregon Ducks despite a plethora of NFL rumors) Oregon has ascended the ranks to become a college football powerhouse. The program has reached four consecutive BCS Bowls while winning their past two, placing them in the history books.
And yet, despite all of the attention Oregon’s football team has received in recent years, they are not the only athletic program at the University that may see success this year. Not only has Oregon claimed a National Title in Women’s Cross Country and made an appearance in the National Championship for Women’s Volleyball, Oregon Men’s Basketball team is putting together quite the start to their 2012/2013 campaign.
Though they have yet to crack the Top-25 in college basketball, the Ducks, led by Dana Altman, now stand at 12-2 after starting off conference play by vanquishing their bitter rivals, the Oregon State Beavers, in the longest-standing college basketball rivalry. A slow start to the game was mitigated in the second half when Oregon took command and ended up with a convincing 79-66 victory.
Damyean Dotson continued the impressive start to his career, putting up 21 points, while veteran E.J. Singler took control of the boards with a total of nine rebounds. Crucial as this win was, there were two things that stood out for the Ducks on Sunday night: their perimeter play vs. their inside play.
Especially in today’s college basketball world perimeter play and the conversion of three-points attempts are very important. Not only do they put up points at an efficient rate and separate the best teams from the rest, decisive and decent perimeter play can aid in quickly shifting momentum in crucial contests.
Unfortunately for the Ducks, at least in the first half, their perimeter play was horrid. In fact, the Ducks were unable to convert any three-point attempt in the first half and looked rushed and hurried all game from the edge. Likely due to this being just their third contest on the road this season with a freshman back court, these early struggles will hopefully be mitigated by the time this year reaches its critical point.
At the end of the game, though the Ducks were able to establish some perimeter offense and defense, they had made just three from beyond the ark, going 3 for 16 on the night, an unacceptable statistic that will not lead to wins over tougher conference opponents (although the Beavers are by no means a cake walk, either).
The most impressive basketball played on Sunday night was by inside the paint by Oregon’s big men and defense. Despite the absence of standout Arsalan Kazemi for portions of the game the Ducks were very much in command of the boards and inside statistics.
Led by Tony Woods and Singler significantly contributing on both ends, Oregon looked mighty impressive as they quelled the early attack of the Beavers and established a dominant inside presence that resulted in a big win for the Ducks. Looking ahead things may be bright for Oregon as they continue to develop their big men throughout the rest of the season, something that will pave the way for the future development of their perimeter shooters as well.
As the season progresses the Ducks will need to get things going on both sides of the ball and keep their momentum going, especially with a big game against Arizona quickly approaching this Thursday.
Should the Ducks be able to shock the college basketball worlds and pull the upset at home, they may very well find themselves as one of the better teams in the nation in the coming weeks.