Oregon Men Continue To Struggle On The Road
The Oregon men’s basketball team had a disappointing trip to the Bay Area this past weekend. After beating Cal on Thursday 77-72, they dropped there next game against Stanford 60-70. In the loss to Stanford, the Ducks suffered through a nearly ten minute field goal drought in the second half. During that stretch, the Cardinal exposed the Ducks’ weaknesses.
Going into the game, the Ducks were ranked inside the top 10 of most offensive efficiency rankings in the country. However, I believe those numbers to be misleading. The Ducks are very good in open court, broken plays, and on the offensive glass. However, they do have their struggles in the half court, where they can be very one dimensional and stagnant.
Dana Altman’s offense is predicated on athletes being able to beat their defenders off the dribble to make plays for themselves or teammates. The problem is, right now the guards on this team are inconsistent in winning one-on-one situations. This causes scoring droughts because Oregon is unable to create good shots consistently in the half court.
I have mentioned this in previous articles, but I feel the Ducks need to do a better job executing simple sets to get themselves in better scoring positions. One area they can improve greatly is in pick-and-roll situations. They utilize at least one pick-and-roll in almost every offensive possession, but rarely does it translate to points. I will have an article this Saturday showcasing the problems the Ducks have with the on-ball screen.
The second glaring weakness Oregon faces right now is a defensive post presence. With Francis Okoro not playing at a high level, and N’Faly Dante still out with injury, the Ducks are vastly undersized. With no proven shot blocker, the Ducks needs to adjust how they defend, specifically in two areas in the painted area.
First, when defending players in the post, the Ducks are trying to front the offensive player in an attempt to deny the ball. But when a shot goes up, they are automatically out of position for the rebound. Second, when a player drives, the Duck posts are aggressively helping to challenge the shot, also causing them to be out of position for a rebound.
Instead of being so aggressive with their post defense, the Ducks need to stay between their man and the basket, make opposing players make shots over the top, then attack the glass for the rebound. The guards need to play the same way. Keep ball handlers in front of them, even if it means giving up a potential perimeter shot, then go rebound.
This is not the end of the world for this Oregon team, but they need to continue to improve if they want to reach their potential. This is the deepest and arguably the most talented roster that Altman has ever had, and if they are able to put it all together, a deep run in March is still much possible.
Lady Ducks Setting The Barometer
The Oregon women’s basketball team made what might be one of the biggest statements of this basketball season, going across the country and beating No. 4 Connecticut 74-56. Oregon controlled the game from the tip, leading by 10 after the first quarter and 13 at the half.
On a night when Sabrina Ionescu was not at her best, even though she nearly recorded her 24th triple double (10 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists), it was the rest of the starting lineup that carried the Ducks. Ruthy Hebard controlled the paint, Satou Sabally was all over the floor, Erin Boley made her threes, and Minyon Moore was aggressive attacking the rim.
As I have said all season, the biggest X-factor for the Lady Ducks is Boley. When she is playing well, this team is nearly unstoppable. You know Ionescu, Hebard and Sabally are always going to produce, but this team goes to a different level with Boley making threes.
Against the Huskies, Boley had 13 first half points, with three triples, helping the Ducks sprint out to their early lead. When she is making shots, it opens up the floor for everyone else, and in this game it allowed Hebard to have her way down low.
The Oregon women are particularly fun to watch because of how they pass the ball on offense. Every player is unselfish and looking to get their teammates an open shot. They play to their strengths and know how to take what the defense gives them. When there are five players on the floor with that mindset, it makes them almost impossible to defend.
As fun as they are on offense, the reason this team continues to be one of the best teams in the nation has been their improvement on the defensive end. The Lady Ducks will always be able to score points, but this season they have been able to get stops when they need to, and make it very difficult for opponents to score.
This is a very important aspect to their success, as they no longer just have to outscore teams every night. They can win a tough, low scoring game if needed. When it gets down to it, their defense is going to be the thing that could have them winning it all.
Coach Alex Nordstrand
Eugene, OregonTop photo from Twitter
Spencer Thomas, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, is an attorney for the Social Security Administration in Atlanta, Georgia, and coaches football at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, GA.
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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