Throughout the nation the past few years, the Oregon Ducks have become synonymous with speed, ingenuity, and most of all offense. On its way to the National Championship Game, the bling-flashing, party-crashing, 100-yard-dashing Duck football team put up record numbers in points per game, margin of victory and season total scoring, and they didn’t do it by inching down-field a yard or two at a time. Those Ducks were fast. Those Ducks were smart. Those Ducks were greedy and so are the basketball Ducks.
Despite a somewhat lackluster start to a 2-3 conference record, Oregon has shown that it can put points on the board. The team boasts the PAC-12’s leading scorer in total points for all games, Joseph Young (G), who has already dropped 350 this year hitting 44 % from the field and a staggering 92 % from the free throw line, and he trails only Stanford’s Chasson Randle (19.8) in conference points per game with 19.4. Young isn’t doing it alone, though. As a team, Oregon averages about 78 points per game, the best scoring average in the conference, and they have put up over a hundred twice this season.
Like Marcus Mariota and his gridiron compatriots, the hardwood Ducks love to run, create space and snowball small opportunities. They aren’t afraid to play in the half-court, but a large chunk of their points come in transition, especially when Young and company take advantage of their speed and creativity in the open court. This team benefits from an atmosphere of organized chaos reminiscent of the frenetic pace we’ve all grown to know and love in Autzen Stadium.
At least one Duck is flying high on defense, too. Already dripping quack-attack style and aplomb, freshman big man Jordan Bell is blocking three and a half shots per game, with a total of 6o on the year, a mark that would make him the sixth best shot-blocking team in the PAC-12, right between Arizona’s 61 and Stanford’s 53.
All that makes Oregon a fun team to watch, a tough team to prepare for and a roller coaster ride for doubters and supporters alike. That’s the kind of thing that gets the attention of the NCAA pollsters, and the kind of thing that gives you a chance in every game. That’s the kind of thing that gives March its mad reputation, and it may be what keeps the Ducks in tournament territory come bubble season.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline