For the Oregon Women’s Basketball team, this past weekend was a monumental final road trip of the season to the Bay Area. The Ducks turned in two more dominating performances against Cal and No. 4 Stanford to reach 14 straight victories, saw an NCAA record set and learned about the future of the roster.
It was a very emotional few days for Sabrina Ionescu. She spoke at Kobe and Gianna Bryant‘s memorial service in Los Angeles before flying back to Palo Alto to face Stanford that Monday evening. In that game, Ionescu made another mark on the record books becoming the first player in Division I basketball history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in a career.
This was just another achievement in Ionescu’s phenomenal career. We may never see another player like her, and it has truly been an honor to watch her compete for the Ducks over the past four years. She has not only left her legacy on Oregon Basketball, but the entire sport, and will continue to do so in the future, both on and off the court.
It was also a very big weekend for Satou Sabally as she officially announced that she will forego her senior season with the Ducks to pursue her professional basketball career. I think this is the right decision for her and believe the timing of the announcement was perfect.
This is probably a decision that both Sabally and her teammates have known for awhile. This is good timing for her because it takes pressure off, and lets the team finish out the season with only one thing on their minds: win a national championship.
Sabally has nothing left to prove on the court, and is ready to move on to the next level. In addition to being dominant at times for Oregon, she already has a wealth of experience playing internationally. Her play, to go along with the fact that she will graduate this summer, leaves no doubt that this is the best move for her.
What does this mean for the Lady Ducks next year? Well, with Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard both graduating, Sabally was poised to become the number one option for this team. However, with her departure, we might see a slight change of style next season for the Ducks.
The Ducks will be a much bigger team than they have been in years past, and may look to use that to their advantage by beating teams from inside-out. The Ducks will miss the departing players, and there will be growing pains, but this will still be the deepest team Kelly Graves has had, with no lack of talent by any means.
Oregon Men Still Battling for First
On the Men’s side, it was an up-and-down weekend for the Oregon Basketball team. First, they found themselves on the losing end of a disappointing matchup against Arizona State. In a game that was mostly controlled by the Sun Devils, the Ducks were never able to find a rhythm, falling 77-72.
The Ducks bounced back in a big way against No. 24 Arizona on Saturday night, beating the Wildcats 73-72 in overtime. Oregon was once again led by Payton Pritchard, who exploded for a career high 38 points, including six three pointers.
This was a game that Pritchard knew the Ducks couldn’t lose, and he set the tone from the first possession, making an NBA range three. From there, he never looked back. The Ducks absolutely needed all 38 points from Pritchard, as the rest of the team was struggling to create or make shots for the majority of the game.
The offensive inconsistency is nothing new for the Ducks, and it will need to be figured out for this team to reach their true potential. The Ducks won’t be able to rely on Pritchard scoring like that every single game. Getting both Chris Duarte and N’Faly Dante healthy will go a long way in helping the Ducks be more efficient on offense.
The Ducks still have a chance to win the PAC-12 with three games remaining, which are all at home. In order to do so, they will have to win out, while also needing help with an Arizona State loss. This final stretch is a great opportunity for this team to set up for the postseason.
Now is the time Dana Altman teams usually take the next step, and as good as this team has played at times, there is still so much room to grow. If this group can take the next step in these two weeks, we could be in for another fun run in March.
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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