Tag Archives: San Jose

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.

You Know, Normal Saturday Night Stuff

En route, I received a text from my buddy Walter: “Dude, what are you up to tonight?”

“Normal stuff like a HS basketball game,” was my response. Walter went on to throw a party with a “fog machine, strobe light, and lasers!”

Because that’s normal, right? Yeah, both are a little odd and I guarantee you that four mid-20’s males never planned their Saturday night around any game I ever played in.

But that’s exactly what myself and three friends did last Saturday as we headed to Sacred Heart Preparatory for a game featuring Arch Bishop Mitty’s Aaron Gordon. This kid:

As you can tell, the hype is justified and this Bay Area recruit will not soon be overlooked a la the incessant and annoying discussion over who missed out on Jeremy Lin. The ensuing 32 minutes plus 4 overtime minutes were proof enough of Gordon’s talent.

When it comes to uber talents, the gymnasiums tend to fill quickly. Such was the case in 2006 when I saw two Chase Budinger games in San Diego and so we arrived about 50 minutes early to the Gordon show. You know what happens when you show up 50 minutes early to a High School basketball game? You watch a half of JV basketball.

That was weird.

Anyhow, the JV game wrapped and the Varsity squads took the floor. Mitty opened with a four corners drill and when that progressed into some complex variation of a layup line, Gordon opened with a failed but no less impressive reverse dunk in which he dropped the ball between his legs, somewhere down around his feet and powered the ball to the rim. His first move in the layup line equaled all the athletic moves I’ve ever made. Combined.

After a few other thunder moves, the entire officiating crew, took Gordon aside and they all laughingly discussed him no longer touching the rim. It was clear from early on that the emerging (arrived?) super star was a magnet, attracting any and all as new friends. The officials wanted to be his friends, the JV wanted to buddy up, the opposing parents palled around and took photos of their kids with him as they requested autographs of the 16-year-old.

One time a kid asked me for a high-five as I ran past during a half-marathon.

But I’ll cut to the chase. I’m no scout so you can read all about what Gordon is capable of at Scout, Rivals, and 247sports but I’d recommend just finding youtube videos of the kid. Wow. By the way, he’s a Washington lean with Arizona on their heels.

The aforementioned chase I’m getting to is simply the atmosphere of amateur, live basketball. It was raw and pure and fun to be a part. We waltzed into senior night. Do you remember your last home game in a HS uni?

It’s something special and Josh Fox made sure his senior night was indeed that. With just 5.7 ticks left, from just in front of their own bench, Sacred Heart drew up a cross court baseball heave of a pass to find Fox in the distant corner where the mop headed kid hit a flat footed three to tie the game.

Naturally, the home stands erupted as the game was headed to overtime. An extra period in which these final 40-seconds happened:

Gordon delivered, scoring his 27th and 28th points as the game expired. It was over and, the weirdest part of it all, while momentarily rejected, the kids were smiling no matter whether they were winners or losers. Because they were just that: kids playing basketball perhaps for the last time competitively in front of their friends and family, for their school.

The Gordon kid may go on to bigger things but it’s sometimes hard to say he’ll go on to better. It’s tough to beat that Fox shot but game winners are few and far between. No doubt a special moment for the 16-year-old. For everyone.

After all, it was just a fun Saturday night for a couple-a dude’s past their primes.

OK, now two final notes. First, the game footage came courtesy this article. Secondly, you have to look closely at this picture but please notice the keeper of the clock and why, despite 3 or 4 significant timekeeping blunders, no one was able to give her an earful like perhaps you can $30/game HS ref: