Beating the fourth-ranked Arizona Wildcats wasn’t the only major feat for the Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team this week. The Associated Press released its weekly basketball rankings yesterday and the Ducks are ranked #21 after a 14-2 start. After impressive wins against ‘Zona and UNLV, and a 2-1 record against ranked teams this season, the Ducks are in three-way tie for first place atop the conference with UCLA and Washington. Despite being left out of the top-25 in the Coaches Poll, this marks the first time since week seven of the 2007-08 season the men’s basketball team has been ranked. Oregon started the 07-08 season ranked twelfth in the country following a Pac-10 Tournament title and an elite-eight berth by Ernie Kent’s squad the previous year. After steadily dropping in rankings through the first seven weeks, week eight premiered without the Ducks and they haven’t appeared since.
The basketball team this year has performed above fans’ expectations, if not also above Head Coach Dana Altman’s. With seven freshmen on the roster and two fresh faces to the program by way of transfer, the Ducks were a tough team to predict entering the season. Would the team gel quickly and bring out the strong talents possessed by the two transfers and highly regarded freshmen? Or would the team, showered with new and unfamiliar bodies, experience growing pains during a rebuilding year? Despite an uncharacteristically sloppy game at UTEP and a hard played early loss to then eleventh-ranked Cincinnati, the Ducks have surprised and soared above expectations. That corny line ‘Ducks Fly Together’, from the Disney movie, “The Mighty Ducks,” has proven true this season. Oregon has five players averaging 10+ points this year and has played as many as eleven players in a single game.
Tabbed seventh best in the conference by the yearly media vote and fifth best by the Bleacher Report, the Ducks of Mighty Oregon will continue to bend their knees and fly together.