Welcome Back, Oregon
The time is now well past when people can make fun of the Oregon Ducks basketball program. After struggling through the last few years of the once great Ernie Kent, the Ducks have been revitalized under the watch of Dana Altman. After two consecutive season of winning 20 games (a feat only accomplished a few times in the history of Oregon basketball), the Ducks are quickly building towards their third as they now stand at 13-2 on the season.
Once the laughing stock of the Pac-12 in 2008 and 2009, Oregon made a huge statement last night as to how far they have come under Altman as they took down the undefeated Arizona Wildcats at a rowdy and boisterous Matthew Knight Arena by the score of 70-66.
The win propelled the Ducks to the top of ESPN’s Pac-12 power rankings and cemented them as a legitimate contender in the Pac-12 and college basketball. Led by a plethora of young talent coupled with well-rounded veterans, the Ducks have the tools to challenge for a Pac-12 Title and make a run at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for the first time since 2007.
Coming off one of the biggest wins in recent history (and Oregon’s first over a top-5 opponent since they beat UCLA in ’07), let’s give you a special edition of our Oregon basketball love ‘em and hate ‘em.
One thing the Ducks have lacked in recently has been national exposure. And, as a program within a top-tier conference, any way you can reach a national audience is very important in cultivating interest in your program, having the pollsters see your talent, and letting potential recruits catch a glimpse of your arena, coaches, fans, and players.
Needless to say, the Ducks needed this game against Arizona to give them the national respect that they deserve. For, up to this point in the season, the Ducks have remained outside of the Top-25 despite more than a few quality wins over opponents such as UNLV. After this big upset, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine the Ducks making their way into the Top-25.
The telecast on ESPN2 also gave the nation a glimpse into how competitive the Ducks will be and how exciting their style of play is. As the season moves forward, this win will prove to be huge as Oregon is beginning to showcase that they are much more than just a great football and academic institution.
Matthew Knight Roars
McArthur Court used to be the most intimidating venue in all of college basketball. Aided by a boisterous Pit Crew and structure that placed fans right on top of the action, that arena would literally shake when the crowd reached its peak volume. Since moving to Matthew Knight Arena, a state-of-the-art complex that wanted to keep the intimacy of Mac Court, the Duck faithful have not been as rowdy as before, likely due to the fact that the product on the court has not been too thrilling to watch until recently.
Last night the nation caught a glimpse of how scary it can be to play at Oregon’s new home arena. The Pit Crew was louder than ever, the fans packed the stadium, and the building’s roof was being blown off towards the end with the way the crowd was into the game.
For one of the first times since the move from Mac Court, Oregon had a legitimate home court advantage. Expect this building to continue rocking throughout the rest of the season.
One of the things that defines Dana Altman’s offense is balance. This balance translates to a team that averages decent point production from everybody, making opposing defenses stretch themselves as they cannot focus on just one player. The contributions from everybody result in more points and a much more balanced offense. If one guy is not having the best day, the next will step up.
The offense that Oregon ran was very impressive last night. Though they struggled to get their footing at first, they eventually became a lot smoother in their progression and took smart shots that resulted in a big victory for the Ducks.
The Last 4 Minutes
While Arizona continually clawed their way back within 10 points during the second half, for the most part they were out of the game. That was, however, until the last four minutes.
As much as Oregon had the lead and command of the game, their last four minutes were inexcusable. They let the Wildcats fight their way back into the game and made this a closer finish than it should have been. Whether they were already celebrating their win or just not paying attention to what was going on, the Ducks were sloppy and did not look like the team that they had throughout the rest of the game.
If the Ducks act this nonchalantly at the end of games throughout the rest of Pac-12 play, they may see themselves facing quite a few heartbreaking losses in the future.