After a tumultuous offseason, the Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team began the regular season with a 107-65 victory over the Coppin State Eagles at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday night.
The Ducks didn’t play particularly well in the opening minutes. Oregon’s poor transition defense failed to pick up the Eagles’ three-point shooters, which allowed Coppin State to convert on six out of their first eight three-point shots, and the Ducks subsequently found themselves trailing by nine points in the early stages of the game.
Oregon wasn’t phased by the slow start, however, the Ducks quickly turned things around by playing physical perimeter defense, which resulted in deflections and steals, and the Ducks were able to take advantage by getting great looks in the open court. Oregon’s defensive pressure forced 16 turnovers, and they finished with 46 points in the paint and 37 fast break points. The Ducks’ feisty defensive effort also initiated a 35-3 run to end the first half.
“We didn’t start off very well defensively,” head coach Dana Altman said after the game. “They (Coppin State) threw in a lot of threes early and they weren’t very well contested. I was disappointed with the way we started the game, but after that I thought our defensive intensity picked up, we moved the ball pretty well, and guys made plays.”
The Ducks also displayed an aggressive and well-balanced offensive attack. Oregon executed its motion offense by spacing the floor and cutting hard to the basket. The Ducks finished the game with five players scoring in double figures, and the bench, who was led by freshmen Casey Benson (13 points), scored 33 points.
Although Oregon had a multitude of scoring options, the most outstanding player of the night was senior guard Joseph Young. The Ducks’ high-scoring shooting guard shot 78% from the field, which included six three pointers, and he finished the game with 32 points, five rebounds, and eight assists. The most impressive aspect of Young’s performance wasn’t his scoring, though, it was his ability to get his teammates involved. Young only had one turnover on the night, and he displayed a sense of patience and unselfishness that we hadn’t seen in the past.
“I feel great, but it’s a team thing, it’s not about me,” Young said after the game. “I felt like I had to make extra plays for my team to get that intensity and it felt good.”
The Ducks were able to celebrate their victory on Friday night, but they quickly had to change their focus and look ahead on their tough schedule. Oregon’s next three games will be against Detroit, Toledo, and Michigan.
Coach Altman understands the challenges that his young and unexperienced Ducks will have to face in the foreseeable future. “We’re going to find out a lot more about ourselves in the next 10 days,” he said.
The Ducks will look to keep momentum going as they host a tough Detroit team at Matthew Night Arena on Monday night.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck