Forty-five years ago, almost to the day, the UCLA Bruins came into Oregon and were beaten twice. It was such a shocking result that Sports Illustrated put it on their cover under that exact title: UCLA’s Lost Weekend. The Oregon men had one this weekend, and the women almost — almost — had one of their own.
The men fell apart in the second half against USC, and then did the same after leading big early against the Bruins on Saturday. They don’t play with poise, they don’t often take good shots, and every single player is inconsistent at both ends of the floor.
This feels like the first group of players that coach Dana Altman hasn’t been able to get through to. Hammering them at this point doesn’t do much good. They’re all playing hard and wanting it as much as any other team, but right now they just don’t have it for 40 minutes.
This is a lost season for the men. If … they’d had Bol Bol all year. If … they’d had Louis King all year. If … Kenny Wooten hadn’t been out a month. But none of that matters; they have to play with who they have. And right now they just don’t have enough shooters and teamwork to overcome their deficiencies. Next year? It’ll be a different story most likely.
Oregon’s women led by 22 points in the second quarter against the Bruins, collapsed and couldn’t hit a shot, then compounded it all with mental mistakes on defense. Erin Boley was caught turning her head while UCLA ran a backdoor play for a layup, twice in a row.
Oregon was also out-coached a couple of times. The Bruins’ out-of-bounds play punished Oregon repeatedly. Inbounding under their own basket, the Bruins ran a center at the basket to force one Duck to defend the inside. Oregon did that well, but UCLA then simultaneously ran a shooter around two screens at the top of the key, and then toward the baseline. If nobody switched, the shooter was wide open from 12 feet on the near baseline. UCLA ran this play four times in a row and Oregon never adjusted. The Ducks are going to see that play a lot in the tournaments if they don’t figure it out.
Ionescu and Boley Save the Weekend, Hebard Returns
Playing wounded after losing to Oregon State in a game they could have won, and to UCLA in a game they should have, the Ducks rebounded on Sunday. Sabrina Ionescu extended her all-time NCAA triple-double record to 17, and Boley scored a career-high 32, including impressive 8-11 shooting from three.
Ruth Hebard returned and put up great numbers in just a few minutes. What a difference she makes! Five of six from the floor, eight rebounds and a couple of steals in just 16 minutes. With a healthy Hebard, Oregon probably beats Oregon State, and I have no doubt they beat UCLA. They couldn’t get a stop on the block, and that’s Hebard’s specialty. Just like the men, no excuses, it is what it is.
Boley was effective on the block in both games. With Hebard’s return she won’t be needed as much there, but she’s proven she can score on the block with her back to the basket. Someone needs to thank Notre Dame for being so good that they didn’t need her so she could transfer to Oregon. Remember, she’s only a sophomore. Boley, Taylor Chavez, Hebard and Satou Sabally are all back next year, and Oregon will also add Satou’s sister Nyara Sabally, who was born in Bandon, Oregon before her mother moved back to Germany.
Both teams play the Arizona schools next week. For the men, it’s a chance to figure some things out before going to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament. For the women, it’s a chance to win a conference title. They hold a one-game lead over Stanford and Oregon State. Realistically, the Ducks should be able to take both and come home with the title, and then look for a number-one seed in the Pac 12 tournament.
One weekend to go before the conference tournaments.
Lake Oswego, Oregon Top Photo From Video
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
A native Oregonian, Bob’s spent 16 years covering Duck football and basketball for AOL Fanhouse, OregonLive and Rivals.com. He’s also hosted a sports talk show on ESPN Radio and led marketing for the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
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