Bill Walton: “A Staggering Win”

I cannot believe what I just saw from our beloved Ducks! They beat Arizona by eight (83-75) in Tucson in front of 14,000 screaming Wildcat fans, when the last 49 teams coming to McKale Center could not! I’m shaking my head and mumbling gibberish and would have yelled and exulted at the incredible victory — were I not so stunned.

This is not a game recap, analysis or even a heavy-duty editorial; this is my own commentary on something rare and amazing in Oregon sports history, and I welcome your reactions and thoughts as well.

Chris Boucher caught a perfect pass on the break.

From Video

Chris Boucher caught a perfect pass on the break.

I knew the odds were highly against the Ducks when their average loss to the Wildcats was 27 points last year, and they were invincible on their home court. The beginning of the game confirmed my fears, as Arizona played tough defense and did some superb passing to set up great shots for the Wildcats. They hit shot-after-shot, and I was wondering if they were ever going to miss! The first shot that didn’t connect came on their 9th … after eight in a row?

Their crowd was awesome and just going nuts.

My thoughts went back to the Ernie Kent days when Lute Olsen purposely brought the starters back into the game at the end in order to win … by fifty. This was better talent on the Oregon bench, and they were tougher than prior teams, yet Arizona looked like the elite program that they are.

A Bill Waltonism:

I’m shocked and staggered … that Oregon has been able to come back and win this game.

Our Ducks did, and it .. was .. so .. gradual, and they did it the right way – running their motion offense to get open shots and hitting them. They played great defense and forced an extraordinary number (19) of Wildcat turnovers; they blocked shots and ran the floor with few errors of their own.

Dillon Brooks drives through talented defenses like no player I can recall, and for him to do it a couple of times per game is not unusual. It seemed in this game he was extra-wired to get past his defender and get up the shot high off the glass.

Another Waltonism:

One of the ways that Dillon Brooks succeeds against the bigger-quicker guys? He’s a Ping-Pong player.

The Men of Oregon ran the distance in the game as most starters put in a high number of minutes, and the three-point shooting of Dwayne Benjamin coming in off the bench helped keep the Ducks inching back. Roman Sorkin also came in for 10 minutes and gave the Ducks some good blocking out on the boards of Arizona’s two big guys. It was great to see him get confidence in such a big game!

Waltonism III:

This game has been about Oregon’s toughness.

Jordan Bell, Elgin Cook, and Dillon Brooks celebrate.

From Video

Jordan Bell, Elgin Cook, and Dillon Brooks celebrate.

I am really not a Bill Walton fan as such, but I have to admit he gave us some juicy quotes throughout the game. He goes over-the-top often, but it is fun when it is your team he is gushing about. Usually the quotes from him are silly and bordering on outrageous at times, as I even felt sympathy for his broadcast partner, Mike Patrick, on occasion. Bill creates awkward moments on the telecast, but he also creates memorable ones. I’ll choose to remember this one …

Waltonism IV:

They were rising to the occasion, overcoming the incredible challenges that this little tiny, skinny, scrawny Oregon Duck team is. They come in and play against the big bruisers and have beaten them soundly in their building.

A question emerges as to whether No. 18 Arizona is not comparable to the Wildcat teams of the past, or if this plucky, tough Oregon team isn’t the overachieving surprise of the college basketball season? [Isn’t that the trademark of a Dana Altman team, anyway?]

That is why we watch the rest of the season, and this team is so entertaining to view.

One of the great victories in Oregon basketball history.

                                                                                          Bill Walton

Charles Fischer   (FishDuck)

Top Photo from Video

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Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks for thirty years and has written reports on football boards for over a dozen years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, a daughter, Christine, and their dog (Abbie) reside in Eugene, Oregon, where he has been a financial advisor for 30 years serving clients in seven different states. He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More...

  • Karl Koch

    I was at the game last night against that Arizona team. My first visit to McKale Arena ever and what a game I saw. Ducks down by many in the beginning and I thought that the game was going to get out of hand. But, no, they
    Ducks clawed their way back into it with a stingy defense and great ball movement. I looked around for other Ducks but found few that were witnessing this historic game. I will remember that night for many years as our mighty Ducks ended that 49 game win streak!

    • FishDuck

      That must have been an incredible environment to witness….14,000 people screaming AGAINST our beloved Ducks? Thanks for the feedback!

      • Connor D

        Hey Charles,
        I was at the game as well. Honestly, the atmosphere was comparable to Oregon State earlier in the year. The alumni did a terrific job of getting into it, but the students just didn’t seem to have much enthusiasm throughout the game. I was honestly shocked. It obviously didn’t help that time and time again when they got close we would pull away, but to have Arizona students not giving it everything was very odd.

        A friend of mine whom I attended the game with and went to U of A made similar comments, which makes me wonder…what happened to make the students go quiet for one of the biggest games of the year?

  • Michael Oaks

    I have, as many of you have, watched duck basketball for many years! That said, this is the absolute best duck team to ever hit the floor for, you name the coaches! These duck do seem to have slow starts, and it took a half with many AZ turnovers for the ducks to finally over take the cats! The ducks three-man weave is a thing of beauty. I guess in todays jargon we would call it “motion offense”. It left AZ defense vulnerable at times. Dillon Brooks is relentless! Benjamin, spotty at times made a couple of threes at opportune times. Sorkin, the gift from Isreal (everybody seemed to pass over) forgive the pun! came in and served up some useful minutes. Our point guard has developed into one of the best playmakers on the coast. His stats rank pretty high nationally. Cook is beginning to play his game after a slow start to the season. Bell, I wish he could shoot better at times, Bouche! what a find. He’s long lean and lanky but Oh My! can he play. Yes sir! Coach Altman and staff have assembled quite a duck squad! and I believe One for the good memory book!

    • FishDuck

      Hey Michael,

      You and I have watched a ton of Oregon basketball, and this team is FUN! Actually the weave at the top of the key is just that, while the entire offense Dana runs is a “Motion” or “Wheel” offense. We intend to dive into it and analyze it here at FishDuck.com sometime in order to understand it and thus enjoy watching our beloved Ducks that much more.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • MAITAIDUCK

        Sounds awesome.

  • MAITAIDUCK

    Thanks Fish as another great article. I myself wish Walton would of never got his speech impediment fixed because now he never Shut’s the hell up. Its almost as if he’s on ACID still making references to Jerry Garcia and the Dead. I was never a fan of them nor Walton. I don’t really think this was the biggest win in Oregon’s history like Walton who know’s DIDLY about the UofO. Great game to watch last night and Brooks Game reminds me of Barkley’s game back in the day. Brooks will end up being a High 1st round pick when he decides to enter the draft. Hopefully he comes back next year.

  • liberalduck

    First, that was a fantastic win even if Arizona is not quite as good as they have been in recent years. They are still Arizona . They have great recruits and Sean Miller as their coach. And, they still play in McHale – a very tough environment.
    Second, this Ducks team was down big early on. They could have collapsed. They didn’t flinch. They kept clawing their way back into the game despite the fact that Arizona was shooting lights out. Then took control of the game in front of a stunned crowd.
    Third, Bill Walton is goofy. But, Bill Walton is awesome. He does his thing. He doesn’t try to fit the stereotype mold. He is passionate about “The Conference of Champions.” He is positive. He is different. His counterpart (Dave?) gets this. He sounds like he is annoyed with Bill most of the time, but that is just part of their “game plan”. I love it.