The Oregon Ducks have dropped three straight games after beginning the season 13-0 and find themselves 2.5 games back in the Pac-12 standings in this young ’13-’14 campaign. Following the 82-80 loss to Stanford on Sunday, the Ducks have fallen out of the top 25 rankings, but time is on their side as they look to recoup and get back into winning form.
Oregon will now take part in a three-game road trip but will get a week to prepare before beginning the stretch in Corvallis against rival Oregon State, on Sunday, Jan. 19th.
The Beavers are coming off a tough loss at home to the California Golden Bears but they have shown they can play at an elite level, especially with forward Eric Moreland returning to the court after a disciplinary issue.
Moreland is a tremendous athlete and difficult to contain, but in just two games, he’s shown just how productive he is. Over the two games, the 6’10-218 lb. junior has recorded double digits in both points and rebounds, with a big 17-point, 15-rebound performance in the Oregon State’s win over Stanford last Thursday.
Along with senior guard Roberto Nelson and forward Devon Collier, the Beavers a smart group offensively that looks to take high percentage shots, and it shows; Oregon State is in the top-10 teams in the nation in field goal shooting percentage at .497. To counter this, Oregon must pick up their performance on the defensive end.
In their past three defeats, the Ducks have had an issue guarding elite shooters on the floor.
Colorado, Cal and now Stanford each had a player go off on career-high performances against a struggling Ducks defense but how is just one player doing the damage?
Oregon has struggled all season guarding superstars, as earlier in the year we saw Ole Miss’s Marshall Henderson and BYU’s Tyler Hawes each have career-high nights with more than 30 points against the Ducks. The only difference now is their offensive production has not been able to bail them out.
The Ducks are still scoring a sufficient amount of points but not enough to keep up with the troubles they’re having on defense.
One thing I have noticed is that in their losses, it seems their opponents have been able to control the tempo of the game, taking Oregon’s lethal transition offense out of consideration.
This, in return, has forced the Ducks to settle for jumpers and lower percentage shots, taking them right out of their comfort zone. The offense has turned into every man creating his own shot and it has a profound effect on the level of shot selection, which in return leads to a decline in offensive production.
If they can move the ball around and play unselfish basketball, then I believe the Ducks’ talented sharp shooters will get right back on track.
It will not be easy, especially with their next three bouts on the road, but the Ducks looked very good in the beginning of the season and have proven they have the talent to compete at a very high level. With a deep roster that features players with a wide variety of offensive skill, they just need to find their rhythm.
These next three games are very important and needed for Oregon before they face No. 25 UCLA and No. 1 Arizona. There is still time to improve, but it must be soon. They have already dropped three conference games in a competitive Pac-12 field and a few more could severely hinder their NCAA tournament chances.
Potential is there for Altman’s squad to group together and get through this mid-season slip. Remember, last year the Ducks dropped three games during the middle of the season, with two coming against Cal and Stanford, and still recouped to win the Pac-12 title.
Top Photo By Steve Francis