Oregon’s Final Four Loss to North Carolina in a Nutshell

Oregon didn’t lose to North Carolina because they didn’t block out at the end. They didn’t lose because they didn’t have Chris Boucher. Oregon lost because Oregon didn’t play as smart as they normally do.

Bad shots and more bad shots

Carolina goaded them into shooting not just 3’s, but deep 3’s. Very deep 3’s. Look at this shot chart. Oregon’s not even near the line for many of them. Some of that is Carolina’s length making them start deeper, but not all of it. Dylan Ennis and Tyler Dorsey in particular missed over and over again in a dome stadium where the background is just terrible and depth perception is always tough.

Oregon took the bait and took the first early 3 they had that was open. Dillon Brooks and Dorsey went 5-22 for the night. Shooting against the kind of length they’d face in the NBA you saw why both are projected to be not first, but second round picks. (And might be back next year to play and enter the much softer 2018 draft.)

Oregon settled for shots too early in the shot clock. They sent it in to Jordan Bell for awhile and then stopped. I have no idea why. Bell was backing his guy down and scoring seemingly every time he touched it early. Seemed like they just forgot about him.

It’s another spot where they missed Boucher. They put him in the corner for a reason. It opens the lane for Dorsey and Brooks to slash all the way to the basket or kick to a wide open guy whose shot can’t be blocked. No option for that against UNC, obviously. But that’s the difference he makes in Oregon’s offense.

Did Oregon just turn it over again?

A Dillon Brooks foul?
Photo from CBS Video

Brooks had five turnovers tonight facing the kind of length he’s going to face in the NBA every night. He forced shots, rushed his game and tried to make plays again, against length that just wasn’t there. He never let the game come to him. To their credit the Tar Heels set him up for failure. A couple early fouls as he’s prone to do and suddenly he had to sit, and never got into a rhythm.

Casey Benson took his eye off a ball, others threw it away. Oregon just didn’t take care of the ball, in the first half especially, and should’ve probably led by about five going into the half. Payton Pritchard continued his dribbling show, picked his dribble up once just over half-court and had it taken away by Joel Berry. Then he did it again and almost threw it away. He’ll clean up that next year.

Overall, too much hero ball and not enough patience on offense.

Offensive rebounding by the Tar Heels

We covered this a couple days ago but unfortunately, it happened. The Tar Heels and Ducks actually were even in total rebounds. But the Ducks had way more turnovers, the Tar Heels had way more shots and 17 offensive rebounds. 17. They converted that into 10 more shots and 19 second chance points. They simply didn’t box out all night. Tough to do playing the match-up zone but everyone has to find a man and put a body on them instead of just trying to out jump them.

How’d they only lose by 1? Defense

Dana Altman’s defense was just tremendous. Ennis played the game of his life on both ends. Having to guard top 5 pick Justin Jackson, he was terrific all night at both ends. Except for the two missed 3’s he took from too deep he was terrific on the glass, attacking the rim and his back to back 3’s that could’ve put Oregon in a spot to create real separation. (On the two straight away 3’s he could’ve stepped in 3 more feet and still been wide open.)

A lot of ‘If Only’s” in this game. Just like the two football losses in national title games. Oregon took them to the wire but didn’t have the mental toughness to wait for better shots. They needed a miracle at the end and almost got it. But came up short.

Your Watercooler Notes

Keith Smith scores.
Photo from CBS Video

Expect Brooks, Bell and Dorsey to all test the NBA waters but chances are slim more than one of them leaves.

Keith Smith played a terrific game. He rebounded, played some tough D and scored the 2 at the end by rotating to the bucket to get the quick 2. He also played the top of the 3/4 court press and his length gave Carolina a little trouble once or twice. He’s going to be good in that role next year.

Oregon got plenty from Smith, Benson, Bell and Ennis to win. They didn’t get nearly enough from Dorsey or Brooks from the floor. Too bad, because I think Oregon could’ve beaten Gonzaga. And I think with Boucher they might’ve won the whole thing. They just didn’t have quite enough weapons to deal with Carolina’s length.

Oregon hit something like 18 straight free throws at one point. Everyone made them. That and their defense kept them in the game while they went roughly 6 minutes without a field goal.

Bell simply didn’t block out on the first free throw missed by UNC at the end and it was tipped out. On the second he was bullied under the basket. Pushed and they rarely call that on free throws. And he was out of position for the board.

Bob Rickert
Portland, Oregon

Top photo from video

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