The Oregon Men’s basketball team looks to finally be finding their groove after being able to play for two consecutive weekends for the first time since January 9th. With the team getting ever closer to being full strength, we can start to see the potential of this team. And that potential is one of a very capable team come tournament time.
What makes this team so dangerous is their versatility. The Ducks currently have five players averaging double digits scoring, which make it very difficult for other teams to guard. Eugene Omoruyi and Chris Duarte lead the Ducks in scoring, both averaging 17 points per game. But if either one of them is having an off game, there are a number of other players who can fill the void.
One big development has been the three point shooting of LJ Figueroa. A career 37% three point shooter, Figueroa has ended up struggling since joining the Ducks. Shooting only 31% so far this season, he has looked hesitant to take shots on his own, wanting to get his teammates around him involved and not sacrifice possessions. However, in his last two games, Figueroa is shooting 7-11 from behind the arc and has been much more aggressively confident.
This is a big development for Oregon, as it helps spaces the floor and allows other players to attack the basket. Despite his poor shooting early, his energy and defense made it hard for Dana Altman to keep him off the floor. Now that he is starting to be confident with his shot, there is never a reason to not have him in the lineup.
The Ducks now have another big opportunity tomorrow, as Colorado comes to Eugene. A game in which Oregon is looking to avenge their first conference loss, and also greatly boost their resume for the NCAA Tournament. This team will likely be highly under-seeded because of the number of games they have played. But I for one would not want to face them come March.
Oregon Women Still Looking For Identity
The Oregon Women’s basketball team had yet another top ten matchup on the schedule this past week against Stanford. In what was another tough loss, Kelly Graves and the Ducks still looked inconsistent in how they wanted to play. To start the game, Graves went with a smaller lineup, looking to space the floor, and by all accounts it was successful. Oregon was able to get to the basket, and either had lay up opportunities or open three point shots.
Throughout the majority of the first half however, it was a continuous rotation between their small and their big lineup. This created more inconsistency, and poor offense for most of the half. In the second half, Graves used mostly a one post lineup, which again had success against the Cardinal.
In my last article, I mentioned I thought the Ducks would have to do well relying on their size and skill inside. It seems though Graves looks to be transitioning more to a spread the floor approach. This is the style of play teams throughout his career have used, and had great success with no less, so there is no fault in going that route. With the amount of good shooters on the roster, this can also benefit the Ducks on the offensive end.
This team is still one of the top 20 teams in the country. Even though they haven’t been able to get over the hump and beat a top team, they have battled and been close in three of their five losses. If Graves is able to find a consistent rotation of players and style of play, there is no reason this group can’t make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. From there on out, anybody has a shot, and the Ducks have proven they can keep up with the best.
Coach Alex Nordstrand
Top Photo By: Eugene Johnson
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