Both the Oregon Men’s and Women’s basketball teams got back on track in a big way this past weekend after both teams dropped games over Thanksgiving. After a slow start, the men were able to find their stride in the second half on their way to a 89-64 victory over a scrappy Hawaii team. The women controlled their game from the jump, led by Ruthy Hebard’s 22 points, in their convincing 95-56 win over South Dakota State.
On the Men’s side, Shakur Juiston missed the Ducks game against Hawaii, appearing to have possibly injured his knee at the end of the North Carolina game. The team never disclosed details on the injury, so while it does not appear serious, it sounds like he will be out at least a little bit of time.
For the Women, Sabrina Ionescu found herself breaking more records this past Sunday with her 109th career game scoring in double figures, the most ever by a Duck. Also, she became the all-time leader in three pointers made with 285. There is no question she really is the GOAT.
Men Finding Their Roles
As would be expected from a four year starting point guard, the men’s basketball team both begins, and ends, with Payton Pritchard. He is the unquestioned leader of this team, and the Ducks will go as far as he takes them. The good news is, this is the most talented team that has been around him since his freshman year, and for them to get where they want to go, he needs to continue to get everyone involved.
Pritchard is having a tremendous statistical season so far for the Ducks. Through nine games, he is averaging 18.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. The 6.1 assists is a career high for him, showing that he has made an emphasis on finding open teammates early this season. In my opinion, that has been a big reason for the team’s success.
While Pritchard has always had a score first mentality, the team is at their best when he is looking to find scoring opportunities for his teammates as well. After shooting the ball 23 times against Gonzaga, he has taken a combined 24 shots in the past two games. Pairing that with 11 assists in their last game against Hawaii, it seems that Pritchard is taking steps to look for teammates, which will only make the team better.
Two players who have been playing exceptionally within their roles are Will Richardson and Chandler Lawson. Lawson, a 6’8 true freshman has been asked to back up Francis Okoro at center early on this season. Undersized for that position, Lawson has performed admirably, averaging 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 78% from the free throw line. The future is very bright for him as he continues to get stronger and more confident.
Oregon Women Find Shooting Touch
Another positive development for the Oregon Women was they had eight players play 15 minutes or more. This included Holly Winterburn, a true freshman from England, having a breakout game shooting 5-7 from the three point line.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, it is important for this Women’s team to continue to build depth. The more these young bench players are able to develop early in the season, the more they can help take some of the pressure off the starting five as the season progresses.
On the Horizon
The Women’s next four games are all against teams with a .500 or below record before heading into conference play. This should give them ample opportunity to continue to prepare and improve their bench play for what is a brutal Pac-12 slate.
The Men’s next game is at Michigan this Saturday, which will be the fifth top 15 team they have played this year, the most of any team in the country. Michigan beat both North Carolina and Gonzaga in the same Battle 4 Atlantis tournament the Ducks played in two weeks ago. No question it will be a tough test. However, they are expected to see the arrival of N’Faly Dante in the next couple of weeks, which would be a big boost for this team.
Exciting times ahead. Go Ducks!
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.
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