Two months ago the Oregon Men’s Basketball team was in trouble. After starting the season 13-0 in non-conference play the team fell apart at the seams. The dominant Top 10 ranked team from Eugene started Pac-12 Conference play on a losing streak of eight games. The Ducks lost five of those games by just two points. What was wrong? Did the team have rebounding issues? Yes, they still do. Could the issue be Senior Mike Moser’s shooting? Fingers were pointed at these issues and more. Oregon needed to find a way to stop the bleeding.
Fast forward to March 5th and it is a different story altogether for this team. In just a few months Oregon went from not relevant to very much relevant and alive for a coveted post season spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks have come back from the dead and are on a six game winning streak after beating Arizona State on Tuesday night, the first Pac-12 Conference game on a Tuesday in 19 years.
How did it all start? Several months ago when their backs were against the wall Mike Moser knew every game from that point was a dire situation to win. As a team, not individuals. A lot can be said for his leadership throughout this season, even though I may be the first to actually put it down in words. It is a funny thing that Oregon Coach Dana Altman has created here in Eugene. He finds a way to get it done, whether it is with Freshman, or Transfers – even if they are here just a year, their impact goes much further than their playing time at Matthew Knight Arena and at other venues around the Pac-12 Conference.
Moser found a way to get out of his rough start to the Conference season to earn Pac-12 Conference and Athlon Sports honors this week as the Player of the Week. I realize that accolades don’t mean much to a player who has his back against the wall, but Moser is a competitive guy with heart. He has ‘earned’ this. Oregon is perhaps a win away from getting back to the NCAA Tournament. Of course, for Moser, Young, Dotson, Loyd, Calliste, and the rest of the team the ultimate goal is to keep winning and get Oregon a National Title. They are close.
If anything we know this team can be streaky, and that is dangerous to anyone. Dana Altman and company started the season 13-0, (current streak), and looking ahead, who knows. If the Ducks do make it to the Big Dance or the NIT, the chance at hosting the first few rounds may come to fruition.
As it was last year with Senior Arsalan Kazemi, Saturday’s game will be the last ‘regular season’ home game for a distinguished class at the U of O. Senior Johnathan Loyd has been here the longest and played the most ever in an Oregon uniform. Moser battled through a tough season and helped get the Ducks to a spot that ‘mattered’. Of course there’s also Jason Calliste, Waverly Austin and Richard Amardi with their own accomplishments on this season.
One reason to come out and support this team is for what they have done together, being down and coming back. The other is there is still a lot to play for and to celebrate. As a member of the media who was watched this team every game this season the turnaround has been epic. Knowing that at the end of the year they would either not have a chance against a Top 5 Arizona team or that they could make a HUGE statement was one of many story lines. The fact that the latter is true should make you want to come and watch on Saturday afternoon. Couple that with a National audience on CBS and plenty of national media minds in the house including Doug Gottlieb, as well as Jim Nance who is likely calling the game and Matthew Knight has the chance to do something it hasn’t in four years – be as loud as Mac Court used to be.
Dana Altman is a great coach, he is the ‘it’ factor. This could be his ‘it’ team. Let’s get out there and cheer them to a win on Saturday over Arizona. Tipoff is set for 1pm.