Oregon Men Lost On Offense
The Oregon Men’s Basketball team is at the crossroads of their season. The Ducks have lost two straight conference games in which they have had over eight minute field goal droughts in the second half after gaining a double digit lead.
This has been a different season than what we have become accustomed to under Dana Altman. Instead of starting slow and continuing to improve over the course of the year, the Ducks got off to a lightning fast start in non conference play, only to see a decline in PAC 12 play.
It is easy to blame the injuries and lack of production from the Oregon post players for the recent struggles; however, I believe it all starts with the philosophy, the play of the guards and how well teams have adjusted to what the Ducks are trying to do.
This is undoubtedly one of the most talented rosters that Altman has ever had at Oregon; however, it is constructed differently than his teams in the previous seasons, which has effected offensive production. As I have stated in the past, the goal for Altman offenses is to space the floor and allow players to attack the basket.
The key to this is the floor spacing that is required. In seasons past, the Ducks have had Forwards that could either attack the basket, or stretch the floor with their ability to shoot the three. This season the Ducks are lacking that type of player, and it is really clogging up the floor. Because of this the Ducks have really struggled to create consistent offense.
Early on in the season, Oregon was able to use their athleticism and natural talent to win games. Now that teams have been able to scout them and make them play to their weaknesses, the results have not been the same. Now, it is up to Altman and his staff to make adjustments back.
As we as fans know, Altman is one of the masters at getting his team playing its best at the end of each season. It seems that no matter what the ceiling of his teams are, they always reach it. However, I would argue that is not based on adjustments, but getting players to play hard and the right way.
By playing the right way, I mean he is able to teach them how to buy in on defense, how to play as a team; what is a good shot vs a bad shot, and how to maximize their strengths. However, in order for this team to get over this rough stretch, they need to adjust what they are doing on offense, and put players in better positions to be successful.
For example, Will Richardson is a very strong driver when going to his left, and is also the best ball handler on the pick and roll. So, getting him in a position where he has room to penetrate the defense going to his left and either finish at the rim or create for others, will help the Ducks stay away from those haunted scoring droughts.
Additionally, as good as Payton Pritchard has been this season, I believe he needs to help get his teammates more involved. Pritchard has a score first mentality as a point guard, but the problem is he struggles to create his own shot consistently. However, because he is able to make tough shots, defenses have to focus on him, and if he begins to attack the basket with the intention of getting his teammates open, it will elevate the offense that much more.
Lady Ducks On a Mission
The Oregon Women’s Basketball team is on one of the best stretches we have ever seen in college basketball. Over their last 10 games, the Lady Ducks have played seven teams ranked inside the top 20, with the average score being 77-64, including three of those wins being by 30 or more points.
This team is just clicking on all levels, and making it look easy out on the court. The biggest difference in these past ten games has been the play of Satou Sabally. She has taken her game to another level, and that has taken this team to where they have the potential to be.
Sabally is just such a mismatch on the floor for the Ducks. At 6’4, she is as tall as most posts, yet has the skill set of a wing, with the ability to drive, shoot from three and create for others. Her biggest impact on the game is her offensive rebounding. She is giving her team six to eight extra points every game just because she is attacking the boards.
Ever since their loss at Arizona St, it seems that the Ducks have an even bigger sense of urgency, and have wanted to make a statement about where they stand, not only in the PAC 12, but in the nation. There is no team playing better than the Ducks right now, and if they continue to play at this level, they should be the clear favorite to win the national championship. The best just might be yet to come.
Coach Alex Nordstrand
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