The Pac-12 as Never Before?
All right….you know I cannot stay away from a keyboard too long, as Mr. FishDuck has to share what is rattling around in his head. This break I’ve been taking has been wonderful due to the absence of frustration that comes with managing a website. Yet I never figured when I started FishDuck.com at age 55 — that I would get hooked on writing, of all things. Between writing the scripts for the 50 videos, and now over 300 articles and analyses published over four and half years — I cannot stay away for long, and I won’t.
I have a TON of things to say about the current events in football, and the Grizzled Ol’ Coach has been whispering in my ear, “Isn’t your month break from the site over yet?” Close, and the GOC and I will have some tasty collaborative articles in the future for you. The site is not dead, but I will not return to manage other writers and editors; my love is learning Oregon sports and sharing it and my highly biased opinion with you. Stay tuned…
I am shaking my head pondering the state of men’s basketball in the Pac-12 Conference, and not because of weakness. My friends … is the world upside down? The non-conference schedule left some impressive records for Pac-12 schools and some notable wins over other conference heavyweights such as UCLA over Kentucky and Utah over Duke. Conference bottom dwellers in the past (such as the Beavers) did not drop the usual dump, such as losing to a Coppin State.
The conference season begins with UCLA losing to the WSU Cougars? USC beats Arizona? How can the bottom beat the top — right off the bat? You can’t assume a victory in Corvallis as the Ducks had their lunch handed to them by a very talented and well coached Oregon State squad. Wasn’t Oregon considered another contender for the league title?
This IS the Pac-12 as never before.
I have never seen such balance in the league, and at age 59 … I’ve been following it for a long time. Usually you have a team or two (Arizona/UCLA) that are head and shoulders above the rest, and you always have one or two teams that are noticeably below the majority, but I simply do not see a dominant team, nor a terrible team this year. You want parity? Baby, you got it.
Cal was ranked high in the preseason due to its incredible recruiting class, yet that inexperience emerged on the Oregon Trail this last weekend with two losses. Ernie Kent had his issues with big men not developing in Eugene, yet in Pullman he has a monster post player in Josh Hawkinson, who is eating up opponents. Arizona State loses to Sacramento State to begin the season, but later beats Texas A&M and UNLV in Vegas? Holy Crap!
The basketball world on the Left Coast is upside down.
I am hunkering down for an incredible season of basketball in conference play as anybody can beat anybody else — truly. This means that games will be decided by the smallest of events … hitting/missing free throws, a defense thrown in unexpectedly, a bonehead play or an amazing play. Week after week these games could come down to one play at the end, so the intensity is going to be sizzling. Every shot, every rebound, every steal is going to matter.
Does it get any better?
As for our Ducks, I love watching this team in its continuous motion offense that showcases the extreme athleticism that Elgin Cook has, but fits in three pointers from Tyler Dorsey as well. Our Ducks play hard on defense and run at every opportunity, and there are so many interesting players to follow. My prediction? I don’t think Oregon will take the conference, but will finish respectably in the top five. Yet it is at the big dance where all the battle-tested seniors and young guns groomed to the fierce competition of the Pac-12 will emerge to surprise many–maybe even a bunch of Oregon fans.
Buckle up for a season unlike any ever in the past, and soak in the talents of our beloved Ducks at Matt Knight Arena!
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove