While the Ducks pulled out a 83-73 victory Saturday over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, it wasn’t easy.
The Ducks started out slow, only holding a 19-16 lead midway through the first half. Before then the Ducks struggled hitting 40 percent of their shots. After a Michael Dunn three pointer tied the game up for Northern Arizona 30-30 the Ducks finally got started, going on a 15-2 run to make the score 45-32 with 3 minutes remaining in the first half. At halftime the Ducks led 45-35 sparked by freshman Damyean Dotson‘s 10 points.
With 5:44 remaining in the first half the Lumberjacks took their first lead, off a three pointer by freshman Blake Hamilton. Tony Woods, the Ducks center thought the Ducks were in trouble at that moment.
“Honestly I was worried,” said Woods. “Anytime a team on the road gets a run like that it gives them confidence.”
The Lumberjacks kept it close the rest of the game until head coach Dana Altman inserted a veteran lineup lead by seniors Woods, E.J. Singler and Carlos Emory. From that point on the Ducks went on a 9-0 run and fanned out the lead to finish the game with a 10 point victory. For coach Dana Altman, the opening game brought out a lot of things that need work.
“I didn’t think anybody was sharp tonight. Everyone was a little sluggish, we just weren’t on top of it,” Altman said. “We’ve gotta get more fundamentally sound on the offensive and defensive end.”
For Altman those fundamentals included second chance points turnovers and free throw percentage, all areas where the Ducks were outperformed by Northern Arizona. Offensively, four Ducks were in double figures, led by Woods’ 14 point, 7 rebound performance. Another bright spot for the Ducks was freshman Damyean Dotson, who finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Tony Woods’ offensive game has come on strong since the end of last season. In three of his last four games Woods set career highs. “My offense has come along way. Since the end of last season my offense has continued to develop.” Woods said. “I’m just feeling more and more comfortable.”
With eight newcomers on the team right now, the Ducks are relying on freshman to play heavy minutes. Altman said that while his new group of players did some good things on the court, there were many areas where they must improve.
“The consistency and the communication just wasn’t there. They’ve gotta learn to get after it and compete. They pick and choose when they wanna play hard and I think they’ve gotta do a better job.”
Defensive mistakes hurt the Ducks the entire game, especially when the Lumberjacks took their first lead in the second half. Even though the Ducks are bigger then they were last year, they only outrebounded an undersized Lumberjack squad by seven in the game. The Ducks defensive rotations were slow and chemistry was a big factor in that. For Altman the communication just wasn’t there on the defensive end.
“Guys gotta talk. We got behind on almost every offensive play they had,” Altman said.
But for Altman it didn’t matter what kind of defense the Ducks were playing, they just weren’t playing hard enough. With 4 games coming in the next week for the Ducks Altman said “We’ve gotta make giant steps in a short amount of time.” The Ducks play next Monday against the Portland State Vikings 6:30 at Matthew Knight Arena.
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