Oregon Hoops Fizzles Out; Former Ducks Lineman Dies

Jordan Ingram Editorials

The past week has been eventful for Oregon fans, but not necessarily successful.

The Oregon Ducks men’s and women’s basketball programs were both eliminated from the postseason this weekend, officially closing the books on a year filled with exhilarating highs, frustrating lows and inconsistent performances from both teams.

Women’s Basketball

For the first time since 2017, Oregon (20-12) was bounced out of the women’s NCAA tournament in the first round after a 73-70 loss to No. 12 seed Belmont (23-7) in double overtime at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Ducks, who struggled this year with injuries to key players, including USC transfer Endyia Rogers, Nyara Sabally and Te-Hina Paopao, lost five of their final 10 regular-season games and fell to Utah in the Pac-12 Tournament before heading into this year’s inaugural 68-team women’s NCAA tournament.

Gary Breedlove

Oregon Ducks head coach Kelly Graves.

Oregon head coach Kelly Graves pointed to the team’s lack of consistency, leadership and toughness after the end to a disappointing season.

“I think at times our players have acted and performed entitled,” Graves told ESPN after the game. “I mean, we have had a nice run. We made it at least to the Sweet 16 every year since 2017. First first-round exit in a long time. This group hasn’t won anything. We haven’t won a Pac-12 championship. We haven’t won in the NCAA tournament, with great depth.”

“We’re missing that alpha, and oftentimes if it comes from the coach, that leadership, then we’re in trouble,” Graves said. “We have leadership capability and leadership shows up from time to time, but it’s the consistency. If I had to kind of boil the whole season down into one word, it’s ‘inconsistencies.’ Daily effort, game production, leadership, coaching. I didn’t do a great job. I was inconsistent, as well. Same with my staff.”

Men’s Basketball

After making it to the Sweet Sixteen last season, the Ducks (20-15, 11-9) missed an invitation to March Madness this year. Despite high expectations Oregon would turn its season around in time for the postseason, a trademark of head coach Dana Altman, the Ducks just couldn’t gel in time to make a run.

After defeating Utah State 83-72 on Tuesday in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament without leading scorer Will Richardson, Oregon stumbled against Texas A&M at College Station, falling to Aggies 75-60. Richardson, who averaged 14.1 points per game, missed six-consecutive games for the Ducks (including the entire postseason) due to an undisclosed illness.

Gary Breedlove

Oregon Ducks head coach Dana Altman.

Altman suggested the Ducks didn’t put the necessary work required to achieve the levels of success the longtime coach has seen previous years in Eugene. In an interview with Oregon Live, Altman said:

“The guys who have been players at Oregon, at Creighton, at Kansas State that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over 42 years, the guys who are the good players and have really demonstrated that game in, game out are the guys that bring it every day and are consistent every day with their effort. We’re going to have to work. I wish I had a magic wand but I sure don’t. We’ve been fortunate to have workers. Chris Duarte, Eugene (Omoruyi). Chris last year, 90% of the time was the first one to practice, the last one to leave. Eugene was right behind him. Payton Pritchard before that. Dillon Brooks – I had to chase Dillon out a few days before a game. I said, ‘We got a game tomorrow, get out of here.’ I didn’t chase anybody out the gym this year. We’re going to have to get back to what helped us be successful.”

“I only want guys that want to be at Oregon and are fully invested in our program. Our work ethic has to get better. Whoever stays has to be all-in. A lot of adjustments to make here and guys are going to have to really work hard in the offseason. We’re going to have to have a great summer. We didn’t have a good summer last summer and I do think it affected our performance this year, but other teams have bad summers and they bounce back and have better season than we did. We’re going to have to figure out who wants to be at Oregon and 20 wins and an NIT and that’s not our goal. Our goal is to have the best team possible and get back to challenging for conference championships, that’s what we want to do.”

Baseball

The Oregon Ducks baseball team is 5-1 in the Pac-12 conference after completing a sweep of Utah with a 7-2 victory on Sunday at PK Park in Eugene. The Ducks batted .347 in the three-game series against the Utes with seven home runs and three doubles. Brennan Milone went 7-for-11 (.636) with two home runs, a double, five RBI and three runs scored. The Ducks (13-6) hit the road to play Gonzaga (13-4) at 3 p.m. on Tuesday before returning to Eugene for three games against USC (12-5) this weekend.

Softball

After falling 5-2 in Friday’s game against the Utes, a loss that snapped the No. 11 Ducks’ 11-game win streak, Oregon (21-4, 2-1 Pac-12) responded by sweeping Utah in the final two games of a three-game series this weekend. Freshman pitcher Stevie Hansen (1.99 ERA) improved to 6-0  this season after earning both wins Saturday for the Ducks, stepping up to replace veteran Brook Yanez who is out with a season-ending injury. Oregon has 17 wins against RPI top-100 opponents — second-most in the country behind Oklahoma (19).

John Giustina

Junior Siavii, defensive tackle for the Oregon Ducks in the early 2000s, was found unresponsive on Thursday at a federal prison in Kansas.

Other Ducks News

The Kansas City Star reported that former Oregon Ducks defensive tackle Junior Siavii died at the age of 43 last week at the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth.

According to media reports, Siavii was in prison awaiting trial on federal drug-trafficking and illegal firearms charges when he was found unresponsive in his cell around 2:35 p.m. on Thursday at a medium-security prison in Kansas. After being treated by medical staff at the prison, the former Kansas City Chiefs lineman was later transferred to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Siavii transferred to Oregon after playing at junior colleges in Utah (Dixie State Junior College) and California (Butte College). After his junior season as a reserve for the Ducks, Siavii was a starter his senior year on Oregon’s defensive front, alongside defensive end Igor Olshansky.

Siavii, a 6-foot-5, 336-pound native of American Samoa, played in 25 games in his two years at Oregon, finishing his career with 58 tackles, 2½ sacks, a fumble recovery and three passes defended for the Ducks. As a senior, Siavii earned honorable mention All-Pac 10 honors. In the NFL, Siavii was plagued by injuries, playing just four total seasons for the Chiefs (2), Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks.

Jordan P. Ingram
San Diego, California
Top Photo by John Giustina

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