Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon’s gift from Rice and the NCAA for his final season, has been an integral part of the Ducks’ success up to this point in a surprisingly positive season. But he senses the fact that his college career is down to nine regular-season games. He also admits to buying into coach Dana Altman’s philosophy that the seniors must take ownership in their team.
Kazemi said, “This is my last year and also E.J’s [Singler], and Tony’s [Woods], and Carlos’ [Emory]. Coach always tells us, ‘You seniors have to have a sense of urgency because this is your last year, your last turnaround, and I really want all of you to experience the good things like the NCAA Tournament and to win the league.’”
“He’s a great coach,” the first Iranian to play NCAA Division 1 basketball, said of Altman. The biggest difference playing for him compared to other coaches? Kazemi smiled and said, “Every single loss that I’m having here feels to me like it’s the end of the world.”
After last week’s sudden fall to Earth for the Ducks, Kazemi vows that you will see a different Kazemi than you saw last week when the Ducks were swept into the Bay in losses to Stanford and Cal. He said, “I really need to help my team. It wasn’t really me playing out there. I was really disappointed with my effort last week. It will change from my standpoint. It’s going to be much better when we play Colorado. I didn’t do what I do, Kazemi said.”
He explained what do what I do means: “Getting offensive rebounds. I didn’t get any against California. Getting loose balls. Getting 50-50 balls. Getting on the boards. That’s my specialty.” He added, “And obviously, Coach wants me to more aggressive on the offensive end too, and to score more.”
Kazemi wants his Duck teammates to shake off the effects of last week’s games and not to let those losses cause future damage. He said, “There’s a next game coming. If you want to keep on thinking about the last game, it’s going to hurt your future performance. We just need to get everything together as a team and play as hard as we can for the whole game. We just need that win. [A win] is going to make everyone feel a little bit better. It’s at home and I know we’re going to get that home crowd support. It’s going to change a lot of things for us.”
If Kazemi gets back to doing his specialty, and the team buys into what the seniors and their coach are selling, the Ducks will make it tough for Colorado to break Oregon’s 20-game home winning streak tonight when they face off at Matthew Knight Arena.