Oregon’s win over the Arizona Wildcats in the Pac-12 Tournament (95-89) brought together a collection of extremes as examples of the human experience. We saw dazzling heights (offensive explosion before halftime), unknown skills summoned from within (unbelievable defense in the first half), boneheaded thinking and choking (end of regulation) – all during which the fan got verbally slapped around by the insanity that is Bill Walton.
My friends … how could Oregon be that good, that bad, and yet regain composure to win over a noble foe who has a ton more prep all-Americans on the roster than our beloved Ducks? What incredible entertainment and a fascination to watch – were it not for the motor-mouth sportscaster who can make you love him and then hate him about as fast as the Wildcats can close a seven-point gap?
A Bill Waltonism:
“That should be a Technical foul against the rules of human decency.”
(That over-the-top utterance by Bill was in protest to a charging foul on Elgin Cook early in the game.)
Oregon came out shooting well against the Arizona defense, but I was so impressed with the intensity on the defensive side, as I cannot recall so many passes tipped away and blocked shots against a great opponent. The Ducks were challenging everything inside, and the Wildcats attacked with the big-man strength that is the core of their team.
Another Bill Waltonism:
“They’re guarding people – there are no gimmicks out there for the Ducks.” “When was the last time we talked about Oregon’s defense?”
(I have to admit that I agreed with Bill on these, and was very proud.)
Bill Waltonism III:
“Oregon has taken on the personality of their coach, Dana Altman, … just so fierce but so disciplined getting to the next play.”
The 15-2 scoring explosion to finish off the first half had me muttering similar praises for coach Altman with the final play of the half – a sprint by Kendal Small upcourt who then passed off to a dunking Dillon Brooks being the perfect exclamation point to the flurry that put Oregon up 15 points.
Dana Altman on Bill Walton:
“Bill doesn’t know us – Bill hasn’t seen us play that much.”
(While the coach is correct, the one-sentence Walton Wonders made the first half much more entertaining for Duck fans.)
The second half was so intense as Arizona fought their way back while Oregon maintained an intensity to keep the lead. How the Ducks nearly lost the game and went to overtime after leading 77-70 with 26 seconds left is something I’ll let you read from the official Oregon website. It was a combination of incredible shooting by the Wildcats, boneheaded decisions in the fog of battle by Oregon players and foul shooting at the end by the Ducks that can only be described as “choking.”
Yet in the overtime the Ducks regained their composure, made good decisions and put the game in the hands of the player who relished the opportunity.
Bill Waltonism IV:
“Dillon Brooks wants to be at the foul line … as that is the definition of a champion.”
The end of the game brought such relief for us fans, yet many of us could not help but ponder all the aspects of life we saw portrayed in one basketball game with the ups and the downs, and it is shown wonderfully in the video highlights below from the Pac-12.
Bill Waltonism V:
“Send the ‘Cats back!”
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove