In the first big week of the college basketball season, both the Oregon Men’s and Women’s basketball teams were subject to their first losses. While that can be disappointing, there’s reason to believe it might just be a small hiccup on their resumes.
The Men played what was most likely the toughest three-game stretch any team in the country will see all year. The Ducks beat No. 13 Seton Hall before losing to No. 8 Gonzaga and No. 6 North Carolina for a 1-2 record over the weekend. The two losses were by a combined score of five points, with many opportunities to win.
The Ducks found themselves down by double digits in each of the three games, the biggest deficit being 19 points to Seton Hall early in the second half before climbing all the way back for a 71-69 victory. It was a gritty, tough performance, and a game the team can hang their hat on as the season progresses.
Even in the games they lost, the Ducks found ways to stay competitive against elite competition. For their first loss of the season, the Ducks fell to Gonzaga 72-73 in overtime, followed by a 74-78 loss to North Carolina. While losing to two top-10 teams is nothing to be ashamed of, Ducks fans are left with a feeling of what could have been.
The Bad News
In three games, the Ducks shot 38 of 62 (61%) from the free throw line. That includes going 2 for 6 in overtime against Gonzaga (a one-point loss), followed by a 12-for-20 performance for the game against North Carolina in a four-point loss.
In the two losses, Oregon gave up a total of 32 offensive rebounds, which led to 32 second-chance points. It should be pointed out that in those two games, the Ducks had 40 offensive rebounds for 35 points themselves. However, being able to get defensive rebounds and stops is crucial — especially late in close games.
Finally, the Ducks were outscored 123-108 in the first half of these games. That’s an average of 41 points for the opposing teams in the first half. Slow defensive starts put the Ducks in early deficits, forcing them to fight back into the game.
The Good News
All three of these issues are fixable, and quite honestly expected from a young team early in the season. As the year goes on, the Ducks will continue to get more comfortable at the free throw line, especially as they continue to play in more close games.
They will also adjust to the physicality of the game, and will get a big boost from N’Faly Dante if he is in fact eligible to play on December 14th (as is rumored). He provides a big body that can anchor the paint and block shots, something which is essential for a Dana Altman defense.
Maybe the best news of all was the emergence of 5-star freshman CJ Walker. After struggling to start the season, Walker found himself hitting his stride, averaging 10 points and 4 rebounds per game while displaying his ability to step out and make the three-point shot. His continued progression will be a key for the Ducks’ success this season.
Cold Shooting Bites Oregon Women
After taking care of business in the first two games at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, beating Oklahoma State 89-72 and UT Arlington 91-54, the Lady Ducks came back down to earth in their final game, losing to No. 8 Louisville 62-72, their third game in as many days.
After leading 24-13 at the end of the first quarter, the Ducks went ice cold from the field, leading to a dreadful 24-8 second quarter — a deficit they weren’t able to overcome. The Ducks shot 6 for 35 (17%) from the three-point line and 25 for 73 (34%) overall.
There’s no question that this is one of, if not the most, talented teams in Women’s College Basketball. However, they are not perfect. As talented as they are, they currently are not a very deep basketball team. They rely greatly on their starting five players for the majority of their production, with all five players averaging at least 26 minutes per game.
Playing three games in three days is tough on any team. But, for a team that doesn’t get much from their bench and relies quite heavily on three-point shooting, sometimes it can be too much. The women displayed some fatigue against a good Louisville team.
Fortunately for the Women’s team, most of the season is not played on consecutive days, allowing them to bring forth their best game game each and every night. I fully expect this team to bounce back, maybe even stronger, and continue on to a historic season.
Coach Alex Nordstrand
Eugene, OregonTop Photo from Twitter
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.
Alex is a lifelong Duck fan living in Eugene who goes to every Football and Basketball game that he can, and appreciates his wife for putting up with him during those seasons. Sports have always been his biggest passion, having played and coached Basketball at the High School level. He hopes to bring a unique and deeper understanding of both the Men’s and Women’s basketball teams at Oregon, and looks forward to nerding out with everyone while writing and talking Ducks!
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