Sam Felton, Sports Reporter for FishDuck.com, writes from Matt Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon.
The Ducks got ahead early and coasted to an 80-52 victory against the Jackson State Tigers in the season opener of the 2015-2016 season. This was the opening game of the Global Sports Shootout which will have the Ducks face off against the likes of Arkansas State, Savannah State and the highly anticipated matchup with #22 Baylor on Monday.
Freshman Tyler Dorsey emerged as a potential diaper dandy, scoring a team-high 20 points, including 4 for 4 from behind the arc in the first half. The three point shot had been an area of weakness for the Ducks in their two exhibition games but turned it around last night.
I had a chance to talk with Jackson State coach Wayne Brent following the game. To my surprise, Brent wasn’t shocked at how well the Ducks shot the ball. “During the exhibition games, they (Oregon) shot terribly, and the thing I kept telling the team was to not judge them off of the exhibition games. When they get ready to play a real game, they are going to be ready. The worst thing happened for us because tonight they decided to shoot it pretty well.”
6’10 Chris Boucher showed off his range as well knocking down two threes on his way to another solid performance. Doing his best “Jordan Bell” impersonation, Boucher added another 5 blocks to his season total. Boucher’s ability to disrupt shots has allowed for the guards to pressure higher and harder.
Super sub Dwayne Benjamin also contributed to the 3 point parade, knocking down 3 more, including a half court rainbow buzzer beater that barely missed hitting the jumbo screen. His ability to pump up the crowd and provide steady points off the bench will be key for the Ducks this season.
Elgin Cook was firing from mid range in the second half, totaling 11 points. Cook’s versatility and ability to handle the ball caught the attention of coach Brent. ” They got size. Dorsey, Brooks, Cook and Benjamin. Even though they don’t have a huge guy, those four got big bodies, can all handle the ball, so if you stop one, the other one is going to score.”
Coach Dana Altman‘s uptempo play style is contingent on numerous players who can run the floor, thus creating countless opportunities for fast break points. The Ducks now face a real challenge with Baylor. The Bears are led by forward Rico Gathers, who averaged a double-double last season. Baylor had 31 assists on their 36 made baskets. This game will be the first test for this Ducks team that has been impressive thus far. Come Monday night, Mathew Knight Arena will host a clash of two potential final four sleepers.
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove