What Happens in Vegas: How the Ducks Can Improve from Tough Arizona Loss

Brooks scored 13 points, but only had 4 rebounds and managed 4 turnovers.
Oregon meets Arizona

Craig Strobeck

Joseph Young on the drive to the hoop.

Last night, the Duck men’s basketball team suffered a grueling 80-52 loss to the #5 Arizona Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship game, giving the Cats their first conference championship since 2002. The Cats have obliterated Oregon in each of their three games this year, winning each by a comfortable margin (80-62 and 90-56 were the regular season scores).

The Ducks may not have claimed the Pac-12 title but their ticket to the dance is punched. It would be wise, however, for Coach Altman and his squad to take some crucial lessons from a heart-breaking loss. After all, you learn much more from your losses, than your wins. Here is the main point to take away from this loss: rebounding is essential.

This is the most important factor in my mind, especially when there is such a size difference between the two teams. The tallest starter for the Ducks is #1 Jordan Bell, who stands at 6’9. The second tallest starter is Eljin Cook at 6’6. For Arizona, four of their starters are 6’7 or taller (Kaleb Tarczewski, 7’0/Stanley Johnson, 6’7 /Brandon Ashley, 6’9/ and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 6’7).

Of course, size alone doesn’t necessarily dictate which team wins the battle for the boards. What will kill you is a lack of effort to crash the boards, on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The Ducks managed only 20 rebounds the entire game, only three of which were offensive, while Arizona racked up 37.

Oregon meets Arizona

Craig Strobeck

A scene from the Duck/Wildcat game at Matt Court.

 

To be fair, the rebounding statistic is a bit misleading. The reason is that the Duck offense relies heavily on fast breaks, drives to the basket, and outside shots. In a way, the Ducks’ lack of rebounding can be accredited as more of a symptom of Oregon’s offense. However, the fast break offense will be a big gamble in the NCAA tournament, and will rely more on the streaks of individual players, rather than a team effort. Oregon will need to work on a more slow-paced offense in order to facilitate more offensive production in the paint.

The Ducks play Oklahoma State on Friday the 19th in Omaha, Nebraska. The Cowboys have 6 players 6’7 or taller, so the Ducks will have to find a way to win the battle down low.

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Daniel Kantor

Daniel Kantor

Daniel “Kantor” Kantor is a soon-to-be graduating 5th year senior at the University of Oregon majoring in advertising with a double minor in business and music. He hails from Southern California and grew up in a UCLA family, where he learned from a very young age to despise the USC Trojans. He switched to the green side when he committed to attend the U of O and witnessed his first ever Duck game: Oregon: 72, New Mexico: 0. That season turned into the magical roller coaster that was the year of the 2011 BCS National Championship against Auburn (I will argue to the death that he was down). Aside from rooting for the Ducks, you can find Daniel rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Giants, Dodgers, and the 6th grade Eugene basketball tem he coaches. I also have a husky as a pet, but she’s definitely a husky fan. Daniel plans to move to Portland after graduation to pursue a job in media.