It has been a little quiet on the Oregon Basketball front this past week and a half. With the Men having to pause, and the Women missing a game against Arizona St. because of COVID-19 protocols, we’ve only seen one game between the two teams since January 10th. That is about to change however, as both teams are getting into the meat of their conference schedules, with both teams looking to get back on track.
The Men are looking to get things going again after a week in which they needed to halt all basketball activities for health and safety protocols. Before the break, the men had been playing well, winning nine of ten games, with the only loss coming at Colorado. The loss should really come as no surprise, as Dana Altman is now 0-8 in Boulder as the Ducks head coach. They were however able to bounce back against Utah, beating the Utes 79-73 just two days later.
Even though having to pause is never something a team wants to do, it came at a fortunate time for the Ducks. Late in the game at Utah, LJ Figueroa rolled his ankle and was unable to return to action. Without knowing how bad the injury was, an extra week for him to rest and heal without missing any games isn’t a bad thing.
Pair that with the return of Will Richardson looming, the Ducks look to be getting fully healthy on the injury front before having to play another game. Richardson’s return to the court will be a welcome one for the Ducks. Since the start of PAC-12 play, Altman primarily has been using 7 man rotation. With Richardson stepping back in to the starting lineup, that will lengthen the bench and allow players to be more fresh at the end of games. Not to mention the 11 points per game and 47% shooting from the three point line he adds in production.
Lady Ducks Hit Rough Patch
The Women have gone through quite a rough stretch over the last two weeks, with three of their last four games being against top 10 opponents. Even though all three of those games resulted in losses, there is still quite a bit of optimism for this group.
There was never a doubt about the talent this team has, but there was also never a doubt that they lack experience, which has shown in their three losses. Against UCLA and Stanford, it was an inability to make enough plays late in the games to secure a victory. Whether it be costly turnovers, or not being able to get a stop and a rebound, the Ducks found ways to lose.
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This is fully expected for a team putting eight new players in the rotation. It takes time to learn how to play together, and finish tough games. These experiences will be invaluable as the season goes on, and the Ducks will start winning these close games because they will have been in those situations before.
The absence of Sedona Prince has been a tough loss for the Lady Ducks. They were relying on her early in the season as an anchor in the post. At 6’7″, she creates so many matchup problems. Even if she is not putting up great stats, teams still have to game plan for her. As good as Nyara Sabally has been playing in her place, having that one-two punch in the post makes all the difference.
The Lady Ducks have a five game stretch coming up all against teams in which they should be favored to win. It is a nice opportunity for them to get back on track, and regain confidence before the schedule circles back around to the top teams in the conference. Although this group may not win the PAC-12 regular season title, it can still be in a great position come PAC-12 and NCAA Tournament time to make runs in both.
Coach Alex Nordstrand
Top Photo By Eugene Johnson
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