Category Archives: Oregon

Game Day Morning

The previews have been written and the heads have spoken. The haters have hated and the contrarians have garnered their page views.

Today is game day.

And if you’re anything like me, you’ve taken casual Friday a sunrise early. You’ve tucked in your today-I-want-to-look-like-a-“friend of the program” polo and put on some decent shoes. You got to work early and explained, with remarkable clarity, the impact your opponent’s sixth man could have on the game should they manage to get out into transition. Cheryl, from accounting, was not impressed.

There is, of course, a phantom doctor’s appointment this afternoon. A joke that is only funny to you and that half the office actually believes is true. The other half rolls theirs eyes and mutters something about your general level of maturity. But you have your game day blinders on; your dual monitors adorning more of the aforementioned previews and voices you love or hate. More fuel for that fire.

And when that first meeting arrives, that Outlook reminder that you’re due in suite 205 in 15…then 10…then 5…Now… Yeah that meeting blows.

It’s this eager anticipation for a game in which we have no bearing that we love this. Maybe you’ve moved past superstition or explosive upset, but when push comes to shove, when the date of the game is some day in March (and even more anxiety-ridden if it’s April), there’s an undeniable excitement.

Your opponent may be better than you. And the national drone may dismiss your game as a cakewalk for your Goliath opponent. Their RPI, KenPom, Sagarin, AP, Coaches, and eyeball poll rating is higher than yours.

Again, there’s a brewing excitement.

Because today, it really doesn’t matter what you did in November or who you signed last June. It doesn’t matter that you dropped a pair to RPI >100s or that you edged a ranked team at home in early January.

Today is about one, March is about one, because we’re trying to get it all down to the one, last man standing.

May your Thursday be Sweet.

Cats fans…you remember it:

 

Arizona and Oregon Still Dancing: Advance Factors

The last remaining Pac-12 squads in the NCAA tournament face steep challenges. For the Ducks, they’ve drawn the Dance’s number one overall seed and the toughest press this side of Gutenberg. In the West bracket, the Wildcats will face the Ohio State Buckeyes and their athletic set of wings and a scrappy point guard.

So how can these two squeak by? How can Oregon get to their first Elite Eight since 2007 (subsequently this is their first Sweet 16 since then, too)? What’s it going to take for Arizona to advance?

The advance factors:

The Obvious

  • Oregon – Dominic Artis and Johnathan Loyd are the team’s primary ball handlers. They man the ship for the nation’s 83rd most turnover prone team (21.5% TO%). That’s not good and as we mentioned, Louisville has a press which not coincidentally is at the root of the word “pressure.” They put heaps and loads of it on guards. And teams. The Cardinals are second in the country in defensive TO% (28%). You realize this means their opponent yields nearly 1/3 of their possessions to the Cardinals? That’s like having your team manager stand outside a restaurant bathroom and watch guard while you… well wait… it’s nothing like that. But the point is, Artis and Loyd are preparing for the toughest test of their season. This undersized tandem will have their hands and faces full of pressure. Dealing with it and taking care of the rock will go a long way in advancing the Ducks.
  • Arizona – As it’s been a season long dialogue, Mark Lyons is the obvious X-Factor for the Wildcats. I wrote about it for Point Guard U this week and now allow me to quote Chris Dufresne’s LA Times piece on the semi-PG:

    The truth is, Arizona will win this year’s NCAA title if senior guard Mark Lyons plays the way he played last weekend in Salt Lake City.

By that hyperbolic (though I love it) account, I think it’s fair to call Lyons an X-factor.   And just to recount, “last weekend in Salt Lake City” means 50points, 63% shooting, and just 4 turnovers.

The Subtles

  • Oregon – Maybe this one is obvious in that I’m about to make a total pun but subtly very important to the Ducks’ success will be their wings (see what we did there? so much giggling right now). And by wings I’m looking at Daymean Dotson and Carlos Emory. In his first big dance, Dotson has scored 40 points on 54% shooting and is 8-15 from deep. For a team that struggles to shoot the three, the emergence of a greater-than-50% shooter is nice, to put it subtly. And in his swan song, the senior Emory has gone ahead and become great energy off the bench and spent his upset minded first weekend dropping a combined 26 points and grabbing 13 boards. The Duck Wings (decidedly I’m hoping this catches on) combined for 66 points. Stay hot my friends.
  • Arizona – While we may have overwhelming memories of the cardinal and navy putting up gaudy offensive numbers, the core of the current team and current philosophy is tough defense. That tenant was lost for some portion of the season and then it reemerged in contagious fashion as Nick Johnson has reestablished himself as the defensive stopper Sean Miller lauded him to be. Thad Matta and others are taking note, too. It is yet to be determined what assignment Johnson will draw but the tone is set: Defense will win games for these Wildcats (unless you ask Dufresne, above). The Buckeyes pose no mega, collective threat offensively as the core of their success lies on the defensive end, too. Can Johnson be the more disruptive force?

Under the Radars

  • Oregon – These Ducks are pretty damn big. With a starting front court of Woods and Kazemi they’ve managed to be one of the better rebounding teams in the nation. And after those two they trot out the likes of Waverly Austin (6’11”) and Ben Carter (6’8″). It’s been this rebounding edge that I believe has allowed the Ducks to overcome their proclivity for turnovers. DYK the Ducks are one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the nation (36% OR%)? DYK the Cardinals are one of the not so good defensive rebounding teams in the nation (yield a 33% OR%)? Now, I should note that the Cardinals manage to rebound the hell out of the offensive end (38.5%), a byproduct of their full court pressure. But this advantage could be negated by Oregon’s size and rebounding. The rebounding battle (looking at you Iranian Mound of Rebound) should prove central.
  • Arizona – The crop of freshmen have been lauded since forever. As the names said “yes” to Sean Miller last summer the fable grew. And then the season began and they were….freshmen. They’re the only top-10 recruits still playing which is a moderately fun fact but what they provide is something Ohio State just may not be able to handle: size. These kids are huge which the Buckeyes are not. Now size itself is not the answer (too many jokes to be made here) but just as Dotson/Emory have caught fire in the Dance, so too have these pups. Excluding Jerrett from Saturday’s win over Harvard in which he played just one minute after injuring his now completely healthy elbow, this triumvirate (and one game tandem) has put up a combined for 35 points, 36 boards; or 7/7.2 in just 21.4 minutes. They’ve been the difference makers on the glass and in the lane and will need to continue to do so against the undersized and less-than-stellar rebounding Bucks.

Survive.

And advance.

The Dancing Oregon Ducks

So the team that wins the Pac-12 Tournament garnered a twelve seed. This was immediately reacted to with moderate outrage and addressed by Mike Bobinski on the CBS Selection Show. Look, I understand that the committee’s job is tough and generally see little reason to get too upset at their work. Especially if they can provide a rational explanation. So I was willing to give Bobinski a pass if he had good reason. But this was his thoughts about Oregon as a twelve, “We had evaluated their entire season’s worth of work as belonging somewhere in that eleven range.” I can’t get behind that and I know if you’re a Duck you can’t either. I saw this team beat Arizona, UNLV, and handle UCLA twice. Four wins does not a season make but those four teams are seeded 6, 5, and 6 and the Ducks (just like Ohio State) had just won their conference tournament. Where’s the reward? Alas, the thing I keep coming back to is who’s more pissed off? Is it Oregon for getting the poor and “disrespectful” seeding? Or is it their first round opponent, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who now have to travel to San Jose and play the angry Ducks?

Side note: Lotta points to be scored should this have been a football game.

Why I like them: This team plays their roles remarkably well and is committed to Dana Altman’s system. I love their depth and the complete roster of players and athletes Altman artfully substitutes. They defend and rebound tremendously well which bodes well come tournament time (see: Vegas, Las). They rank 16th in defensive efficiency nationally.

Why I don’t like them: Ain’t got no shooters! Their eFG% is right around average (49.1% vs 48.6%) and their three point shooting (for better or worse a key to winning this month) is…poor at best. They shoot just 32% from distance. Additionally, the fact that they’re turnover-prone does not help any offensive woes they might encounter.

Poetic Justice: EJ Singler has been the rock of this program and played in every other tournament this glorious month offers. He’s played in the CBI and NIT and now, for the first time in his career he’ll play in the Big One. We’ve already discussed how the program’s season was slighted but wouldn’t it be exciting to see the Ducks win a few for this guy? Or better yet, because of this guy? He’s putting up 15/5/2 over the Ducks’ last four games (including their P12 tournament run) and they could certainly benefit if the native Oregonian could stay hot.

Best Possible Scenario: EJ indeed stays hot and Daymean Dotson does the same, giving the Ducks a shooting threat alongside tournament MVP, Johnathan Loyd. Between this trifecta the offense manages enough muster while Kazemi throttles Le’Bryan Nash and a now game tested and completely healthy, Dominic Artis, gives Marcus Smart fits. The Cowboys aren’t hitting and Oregon takes advantage of their inability to board. The Ducks win this practical home game and semi-host the fourth seeded – and tough – St. Louis Billikens in what would turn into a hard-nosed, grind of a game. Which of course let’s us believe anything can happen. The Ducks match the Billikens in defensive intensity and take care of the rock, winning on a late Singler runner, 58-56. With the Ducks headed to the Sweet 16, Phil Knight buys out the arena and the entire student body is invited to Indianapolis for the Oregon-Lousiville game. Unfortunately the Louisville press is too much for these turnover prone Ducks, ending their season. Though Oregon wins the Nike-Adidas aesthetic game.

Waxing Seniority: EJ Singler

With the regular season now wrapped and the Pac-12’s seniors having played their final home games, we’re taking a tour across the conference and bidding this group of seniors farewell.

David Piper is the editor and founder of Addicted to Quack. He knows Duck sports inside and out and created the web’s top blog for following all things Oregon.

In the spring of 2010, coming off their second straight bottom two finish in the Pac-12, the Oregon Ducks fired their all-time winningest head coach, Ernie Kent. Oregon would take well over a month to name a successor, and in that time, transfer after transfer decimated the Oregon program. In all, five players left Oregon, with no incoming recruits having been signed as Dana Altman took over as head coach in April. Only one of the holdovers was an underclassmen. That player was E. J. Singler.

Singler committed to Oregon even as they were coming off a 2-16 conference season in 2008-09. The Oregon 6A player of the year at South Medford, he was more known for being Kyle’s little brother, although he has been a good player in his own right. He imprinted himself on the team right away, becoming a starter his freshman year, and earning a reputation as a guy who does a little bit of everything—shooting 45% from the field while finishing third on the team in rebounds and assits.

But it was after Altman took over that Singler really began to assert himself. The 2010-11 Ducks may have been one of the least talented Pac-12 squads ever assembled. The roster looked straight out of the bottom half of the Big Sky. Only two players, Singler and Joevan Catron, would sniff the floor on a team that was even halfway decent. But the team ran everything through E.J., who was second on the team in scoring, rebounding, and blocks, and somehow led the team to a 20 win season. More transfers ensued, leaving only two players from the Ernie Kent era still on the team two seasons after his departure.

This season, Singler is the lone remaining player from the Kent era, the lone four-year senior on the roster. In the most tumultuous time in Oregon history, a four-year stretch in which the Ducks fired their all-time winningest coach, opened a new arena after over 80 seasons at Mac Court, and saw 12 players transfer out of the Oregon program, E.J. has been our rock. He has been the one consistent thing about this program, the one face that has seen through the entire time of transition.

E.J.’s numbers are down across the board this season, as he has been battling a pretty bad case of knee tendonitis all year. However, he is still the unquestionable leader of the squad. Despite missing out on the conference title, he still likely has led this team to the NCAA Tournaement for the first time since 2008, and the program back to being respectable. The most anybody can do is hope to leave a place better than how they found it. E.J. is the one player over the last handful of seasons who has really left a lasting mark on Oregon basketball, and the program is in a much better place for it.

Kudos to Johnathan Loyd as Artis Returns

And like that, it appears the Johnathan Loyd era is over – or at least soon to return to its supporting role – in Eugene. This, of course, means that Dominic Artis will (should?) be returning to action this Thursday as the Ducks host the Beavers in the Civil War. I know for a fact that this has my Oregon friends excited:

Indeed the return of Artis is great news for Dana’s Ducks but it also begs the question: How well did Johnathan Loyd do in the super freshman’s absence? If quick on the trigger, we’d have to say poorly. They were just 5-4 in Artis’ absence (aka with Loyd at the helm) and averaged 18 turnovers per game for which Loyd was responsible for 2+ of.

But the Ducks maintained their first place standing and that has got to count for something everything.

Because I do not believe any team in this conference could have withstood the loss of their point guard and maintained their conference position, let alone first place. Hell, most of the teams can barely hold their own current place so why would we think that any other team could maintain following the loss of a player handling 24% of the team’s possessions and 24% of the team’s shots.

Without a doubt Arits was Oregon’s primary ball handler and shot taker. Shall I rattle off a few other names? If I do it, you have to promise to imagine that player not playing for his team for nine games and the ramifications of such. The following players lead their team in shot %:

  • Mark Lyons, 15/2/3, Arizona
  • Jahii Carson, 18/3/5, ASU
  • JT Terrell, 11/2/1 USC
  • Shabazz Muhammad, 18/5/1, UCLA
  • Roberto Nelson, 17/3/3, OSU
  • CJ Wilcox, 17/4/2, UW
  • Brock Motum, 18/6/1, WSU
  • Askia Booker, 13/4/2, CU
  • Jordan Loveridge, 12/7/2, Utah

That’s a damn All-Conference team. Which isn’t necessarily surprising but I can’t see many, if any, team maintaining whatever level they’ve played without the above players. But Oregon managed and a lot of that has to do with Loyd’s play.

Additionally, the peripheral benefit of this is the confidence gained by Johnathan Loyd and what he’ll bring to the Ducks off the bench as they head into the depths of March with…well…increased depth. Loyd should be commended for his starting services and, if I’m Dana Altman, I’m making it poignantly clear that he is an invaluable member of this team in whatever capacity he’s contributing. As a starter it was 6/1/4. Off the bench, following his previous nine games? Time will tell.

The race for the Conference Title is about as tight as it can get and just one of the three favorites – and lurking Golden Bears – is coming to full strength.

A Trip To Palo Alto: Ducks and Beers Crushed

I don’t navigate Palo Alto too well so we were a few minutes late to meeting my pals at The Old Pro. But once we arrived, we crushed a couple pitchers, a sampler platter, and some chicken nachos that tasted a lot more like shredded pork and headed out.

En route to Maples we saw no scalpers.

Our Box Office purchase was little more than entry into the stadium as we wound up sitting darn well wherever we please which reads a lot more assertive than our bleachers-behind-the-shot-clock choice would suggest.

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We caught the middle of the Cardinal introductions and were acutely aware of the high school vibe Maples seems to propagate. This isn’t a bad thing. By many accounts Cameron Indoor successfully accomplishes the same, there’s nothing wrong with intimacy. It just makes it somewhat easier to overlook that one of the teams on the floor is the tenth rated team in the nation. Because the crowd certainly did not indicate such.

They more embodied the home team – understandably – as a group with great potential (I’m always curious the earning potential of the Stanford student section) not yet achieved. Nonetheless, the stage was set for a big night as Musburger and Walton had the nationally televised call.

Is it just me or is that a remarkably power tandem for a Wednesday night 11pm EST ESPNU tip?

Alas, the ball was tipped and before possession was even acquired, Oregon had a turnover. I suppose that was going to be the case in this Dominic Artis-less offense but don’t let that be the rationale for the transpiring 40-minutes. What Stanford did was impose their defensive will and contest every shot, force uncomfortable runners, and for Oregon so far out of its comfort zone that they stood little to no chance.

It was a defensive masterpiece that happened to coincide with quite the shooting night. The Cardinal shot a cool 52% from the field and 57% from deep, which is to say they got theirs inside and out. Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis asserted themselves basically everywhere while Aaron Bright was unquestionably in control of the game at all times.

And here was my favorite sequence. With 15:16 remaining in the game and some semblance of an Oregon chance still lingering, the following occurred:

Huestis block, Randle three, Emory foul, Bright three, Austin offensive foul, Oregon Time out.

Time elapsed? Twenty seconds to jump that lead to a devastating 22-points. And had Andy Brown’s three fallen coming out of that Oregon timeout it literally would have been my all-time favorite back breaking sequence.

Oregon played poorly, they did, but Wednesday was Stanford’s night. Now I will be curious to observe  exceptions and rules. I don’t think 35% shooting and 20 turnovers is the rule for Oregon. The same applies for Stanford.

But this could be the Cardinal’s tipping point; the moment they remember they are a deep, tough, and talented team.

For Oregon, I see this game as a heat check. They’ve played some terrific basketball but also an unsustainable model. They’d been squeaking past opponents, meddling about the middle of the conference in scoring margin. So like a said, a heat check, perhaps an opportunity to straighten their collar and tighten their tie because the Ducks still have a stranglehold on this conference.

As for me? It was so great to get into that live atmosphere again. It goes without saying but being there is a completely different experience than the television. You’re reminded of the size of these players and the quickness it requires to go three-point line to rim; the explosiveness of a flatfooted dunk; how physical an off-ball screen is.

I love getting to tell these stories because there’s so much going on in that 94×50 foot rectangle of hardwood that I just can’t get enough.

Hooray Sports!

The Mighty Fall While the Mighty of Size Struggle

Well we certainly never thought Nick Johnson was an elite ball handler and so when he entered a brace of Ducks (yes, that’s officially what you call a group of ducks) with a chance to win or tie a game late for the fourth time this season, he couldn’t.

And that’s OK. It’s by no means the crowning moment of defeat. The Wildcats did little beyond show up to try to win that game. While saying such has a tinge of sour grapes, it’s hard to say the fourth ranked team in the country did their thing and got beat at it when good chunks of the game were spent gazing at a 2-3 zone. But credit where it’s due. The Ducks were the one’s playing that zone and playing it actively; allowing it to be anchored by the Woods and Austin, the two of whom possess length to rival Interstate-10. Impressive to say the least.

And for all my senior bravado speak let’s discuss EJ Singler. Conference play has begun and the senior is going for 15/8/4 across two games. For sweet cliche’s sake, he’s stepped up, risen to the challenge, and he’s come to play. I respect that.

But perhaps the most interesting part about that game was that Oregon showed no fear of the Wildcats. Arizona came out with a haymaker, an 11-0 run with equal parts defensive and laser efficient shooting and all appeared well for the Red Team. A Dana Altman timeout sought to cool the run only to have Waverly Austin turn the ball over leading to a Lyons layup. And then the Ducks rattled off 41-19 punishment which won them the game. Quarter by quarter, if you will, the game scores were 22-20, 8-21, 20-19, and 16-10. Arizona beat the Ducks in each of those except in that critical second quarter during which Oregon was flat out the better team.

I made a note that Arizona allows just 23% of the field goals they yield to be at the rim. While I don’t have the exact stats regarding shots at the rim for the Ducks Thursday night, I do know that their three contributing bigs (Waverly, Woods, Kazemi) combined for 22 points and 14 rebounds. Arizona’s three biggens? 7/11. Generally not a recipe for victory.

Last week Miller made no bones about the fact that Ashley, Tarczewski, and Jerrett need to improve. For Arizona to compete for the things they want to compete for, they must.

And there was a moment last night that I thought sort of captured the way of these freshmen. Mark Lyons made a good move to get into the belly of the zone and was driving across the lane. He’d previously been blocked seemingly countless times and had come to learn his lesson. He drew and handful of defenders and the zone bust appeared to be coming into full effect. There was the for Jerrett to have the ball delivered to him on a platter for a two handed flush or at least to draw a foul or do something really tight that no body even knows of. Whatever he was to do, he was not supposed to drift to the three point line.

The ball wound up amongst the beautiful Oregon cheerleaders and not in Grant’s hands. On the television we could see Lyons’ frustration as he explained to the 6’11” jump shooter that he needs to be a 6’11” force. Because he can. And will.

This is a part of the learning curve. It’s no secret Arizona’s recipe involves savvy vets playing well and some talented pups to just play. When the latter half of that equation makes its leap – not even a leap to great but to anything-better-than-7-points-and-11-boards – this will be a frightening team. Hell, they’re 14-1 with question marks abound.

And while that first loss tastes bitter, the best palate cleanse is to learn.

Arizona at Oregon: Ducks and Cats on Top of Trees

The Wildcats are traveling to Eugene and Corvallis this weekend for the first time since the Pac became a twelver. In advance of this inaugural appearance inside Matthew Knight, the guys over at Addicted to Quack invited me onto their Podcast and didn’t ask me to ramble but I did all over this Wildcat team, the matchup with the Ducks, and even got me to speak about the Tempe school.

Listen to it with your ears.

And watch Thursday’s game with your eyes because it’s lining up to be a good one. While it seems the Cats may have lost some steam heading into this bout, I think the fact they stumbled through last weekend makes this game even more intriguing. There’s that common argument, maybe the most frustrating one in the world, that an undefeated team should lose a game here or there. You know, to keep their edge or whatever. If that’s indeed the case, what Arizona managed to do last weekend was lose without adding a loss to the record. No wonder they’re ranked as one of the most efficient teams in the nation!

The Duck’s could’ve added to the intrigue-meter by not losing at UTEP in an assortment of overtimes but hey, Chip Kelly’s coming back, so things aren’t at all bad in Eugene.

Interestingly, there isn’t much here by way of storylines between these two schools. Or at least not of a late. Dana Altman appears to be a polite man and Matt Court – as I learned on the ATQ podcast – has yet to meet it’s full  potential as a home court advantage. The Ducks’ old home was vicious. It’s been awhile since these two squared off as two formidable opponents.

For this one I’ve also stumbled across my inner stat geek which just adds to game anticipation (I see you @jgisland). Did you know that Arizona allows just 23% of the shots taken against them to be attempted “at the rim?” That’s fifteenth best in the nation at protecting the bucket from easy stuff like layups and dunks. Conversely, DYK that Oregon takes 40% of their shots from that very space Arizona does such a good job of keeping people away from?

Holy contrast Batman, we’ve got opposing styles!

Each of these squads is dedicated to their system, a tribute to the coaches and the number of transfers from their respective programs early in their tenures. Each has taken heat on that subject but that tends to be the reality of today’s college sport. And maybe they’ve missed on some recruits, which is a byproduct of rushed evaluations and the need for bodies during a regime change.

But that’s too far down the recruiting rabbit hole that I generally don’t venture down. Except the two times I went to see Chase Budinger and last year when I watched Aaron Gordon.

Anyhow, we’re prepped to have a good one. Some Cats and Ducks runnin’ around atop some trees.

Note: Stats from this article were courtesy of this ridiculously comprehensive site: http://www.hoop-math.com/index.html

 

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in Matt Court

The Oregon Ducks head into Dana Altman Year Three with some optimistic pieces. Perhaps the most intriguing of which is not yet on their team. (See item 5 after reading 1-4 and then read numbers 6 and 7).

  1. Uncle Phil – Duh.
  2. Goldie Locks – Look, he cut them off and I can’t get over that but I’ll have to. I also can’t get over the fact that a lot of this squads success lies squarely on the shoulders of EJ Singler. That’s probably a good thing. He’s a returning All-Conference performer and, traditionally, seniors are awesome.
  3. Woods – No, I’m not talking about the floor which is grossly distracting on a non-HD broadcast (see ya FSN). I want to ask: What if 6’11” Tony Woods figures it out? He’s got oodles of potential, maybe this is the year he breaks out?
  4. Football
  5. Fingers Crossed – Oh man does this squad want Arsalan Kazemi to be cleared by the NCAA. The dude was a 12/10 producer (that’s a double-double if you’re counting at home) and there were talks of a C-USA POY candidacy. He’s also the first Iranian born D-1 hooper. Nice little resume this guy’s built.
  6. Art Is – Yes, art is beautiful and so is Dominic Artis’ game. The freshman point has lead the Ducks in scoring in each of their exhibition games and will be looked upon to fill the voids of Garrett Sim and Devoe Joseph (I loved Devoe). His emergence will be critical to Duck success.
  7. Au Revoir – Lotta transfers out of Eugene in Dana’s first two years. Now that’s to be expected – to an extent – with coaching turnover but now’s the time to start getting serious. For sustained success, Oregon is going to have to build around those who stick around and fill in with some talented newcomers (see: Artis, Dominic). Rebuilding year-in-year-out is too difficult at the major level.

Oregon-UW was a Throwback Game as Good as March Gets

That was some March basketball.

And I’m not going to let you call me crazy because Tuesday’s Oregon-Washington game was as good a game as you’re going to see this time of year. Two teams took the court wanting nothing more than to beat their opponent. That’s what college basketball is all about; that’s competition at its finest.

And did you watch?

It was terrific. Terrence Ross played like the league-bound talent he is and Tony Wroten was bigger than the other kids and Abdul Gaddy conducted like the ballyhooed point guard he is. On the flip side of the equation EJ Singler was as well rounded and tough as a Dukie, Olu Ahsalou was unstoppable, and Tony Woods approached flawless.

The unfortunate difference maker? Garret Sim and Devoe Joseph combined for a pedestrian 7-24 shooting night and that kinda breaks my heart.

I’m a sucker for seniors. That guy – I wrote all about it last month – who hits the shot he shouldn’t, makes the plays others couldn’t; and draws the charge others wouldn’t. The kind of plays that Joseph and Sim made all year long for an improved and solid Oregon squad.

On this night they simply didn’t have it while the Huskies did. Such is basketball; such is March; such is life. Washington heads to New York as the Ducks return to Eugene, their season complete after a terrific five month run. Back to the game.

The Huskies were terrific out of the gate, quickly building a lead in transition and off of Duck turnovers; staples of LoRo-ball. But Oregon quacked right back, taking a lead with the score in the teens that they wouldn’t yield until the second half when some combination of defense and a too much individual creating began. But that just may be what you do when Terrence, Tony, and Devoe are on the floor.

It worked for the purple team.

And perhaps my favorite part of this game? The pace. It was some old school Pac-10 action: fast, pressing, offensive, and athletic. Loved it. It’s like the weather. I’d rather it be in the 80s than the 50s. It was simply put: good basketball. Or at least my favorite kind of basketball.

Many have and will rip this league. It wasn’t a great year, a fact we’re all beyond well aware of by now.

But Tuesday night was as good as it gets.