Oregon Ducks Basketball: Pac-12 Tournament Preview

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With the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday, Oregon men’s basketball head coach Dana Altman, F Mike Moser, PG Johnathan Loyd and G Joseph Young talked to reporters Monday afternoon about a number of topics relating to Oregon hoops. 

Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas

No. 7 seed Oregon faces No.10 seed Oregon State at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. The winner will play UCLA on Thursday. 

“I like conference tournaments. Everyone is worried about the NCAA tournament. I think conference tournaments are a lot of fun,” Altman said. 

“One of the other coaches is working on UCLA if we’re fortunate enough to beat Oregon State, and another coach is looking at the next round and another coach is working on the next round. I’m the only one that worries about all of them,” Altman added.

“Two years ago we had won 4 games in a row and 6 of 7 and it didn’t help up there. The 7 games stretch is done. it doesn’t mean anything,” Altman said.

“The two years when we came into the tournament poorly, we played much better,” Altman pointed out.

Altman commented on Loyd and Ben Carter’s roots in Las Vegas: 

“They’re going home. They have family and friends. They’ll be fired up to play. But Johnny’s always fired up to play. Hopefully Johnny will play as well as he did a year ago.” 

Moser spent his sophomore and junior season playing for UNLV in Las Vegas. 

‘I’m excited to go back to Vegas. It’s been a good place to play for me. I hope I can spread that to my teammates as well,”  Moser said.

Jonathan Loyd commented on the team’s mindset for the tournament:

You can’t get to game four until you win game won or game two. You have to take it one game at a time.” 

Altman talked about Oregon’s depth and the venue in Las Vegas:

“We feel like our depth is one of our strong parts of our team. If we are successful, it will be a big factor,” Altman added.

“It’s a great atmosphere. Winning makes everything fun, but I just thought the atmosphere was great last year. Hopefully we can stay as long as we did a year ago,” Altman said.

All Pac-12 honors snubs

Despite being the 5th leading scorer in the Pac-12, Young did not make the 10 man all Pac-12 first team. Instead, he was selected to the all Pac-12 second team squad, while Moser, back-to-back Pac-12 player of the week, was named an honorable mention Pac-12 performer. Though they had impressive seasons both offensively and defensively, Loyd and Jason Calliste did not make an offensive or defensive all Pac-12 team. 

“I always tell the guys the spoils go to the winners and we didn’t win enough. There were a couple guys from UCLA and a couple guys from Arizona. We kind of caught up at the end, but I’m sure some of the ballots were in before then,” Altman said.

“Our guys Mike, Joe, Jason, Johnny, they were all deserving,” Altman added.

 

Jonathan Loyd wearing a mask after breaking his nose. | Image Kevin Cline – Fishduck.com

“I thought that Johnny should have been on the all-defensive team. His steals, I don’t know if there is anybody better on the ball than Johnny,” Altman added.

All Young said was: “It’s a team game. Next question.”

 

Altman also said he was surprised OSU G Roberto Nelson and Washington G C.J. Wilcox didn’t make the Pac-12 first team. The two made all Pac-12 second team instead. 

 

 Oregon State  

The Beavers are coming off of an impressive week hosting the Arizona schools. On Thursday, they had a lead on then No. 3 ranked Arizona within the final five minutes of the game before faltering down the stretch. Then, they defeated Arizona State on Saturday 78-76 in overtime. 

Oregon State coach Craig Robinson and Roberto Nelson(right)  Photo by Zimbio.com
Oregon State coach Craig Robinson and Roberto Nelson. Photo by Zimbio.com

“We have to get ready quickly for Oregon State. They’re a big physical team. It’s two teams feeling good, so it will be a tough game,” Altman said.

“They run a lot of plays for him (OSU point guard and Pac-12 leading scorer Roberto Nelson), so he’s going to get a lot of shots. He can make tough shots but if he gets easy ones, then he’s a handful,” Altman said.  

“Those guys are really strong. Collier is really strong. Moreland is bouncy and plays hard and tenacious,” Loyd said.

“Our big guys have been progressing as the year’s gone on. I’m excited to see what they do in this game,” Loyd said.

“Just because we beat them once doesn’t mean anything. It’s a different ball game,” Young added.

The struggles of Dominic Artis  

After scoring 8.5 points and dishing out 3.2 assists in 24.8 minutes per game during his freshman campaign, Artis has only managed to accumulate 4.0 ppg and 2.1 asp in 17 mpg this season. Lately he has been especially cold, scoring just 10 points in his last eight games. 

“He’s not giving up. He’s still working hard. We don’t let anybody put their head down.” Young said.

 

PG Dominic Artis crosses over against USC. FishDuck Photo by Kevin Cline
PG Dominic Artis crosses over between his legs against USC. | Image Kevin Cline – Fishduck.com

“He wants to play well. He’s just putting tremendous pressure on himself,” Altman said.

“It’s been really tough on him. He’s a competitor and he wants to play. But he’s showed a lot of character. He’s been very supportive of Johnny, very supportive of his teammates, but he is not happy about it. He wants to play better. He wants to help the team,” Altman said.

“He could break out at any time. He’s a good basketball player,” Loyd said.

“He’s not being a downer. Everyone struggles. It happens,” Loyd added.

Recent Improvement defensively:

Between Jan. 5 and Jan. 23, the Ducks gave up at least 80 points five games in a row. However, they have only allowed 75 points or more to an opponent twice in regulation in their last 12 games. The Ducks currently rank 9th in scoring defense, 2nd in steals, 9th in blocked shots and 3rd in 3-point field goal defense in the Pac-12. 

“Our activity’s better, are rotations are a little better. When Mike’s rebounding like he’s been rebounding we don’t give up as many offensive rebounds, which takes a lot of the pressure off.  Our perimeter defense has always been really solid. We’ve had trouble protecting the rim. Wav(Waverly Austin) and Ben(Carter), those performances have really helped,” Altman said.

A Cardinal surrounded by Ducks Photo - Dave Peaks
A Cardinal surrounded by Ducks
Photo – Dave Peaks

“The press gives us something different that nobody else does,” Altman said.

“He’s(Austin) been confident with his game. We need him for the back side of the press and for rebounding.” Young said.  

We’ve been playing pretty good on defense but we’re not satisfied,” Young added.

The NCAA Tournament

After defeating Arizona on Saturday, many prognosticators have the Ducks safely in the NCAA Tournament. ESPN ‘bracketologist’ Joe Lunardi currently has the Ducks as a No. 8 seed. But based on last year’s low seeding even though the Ducks won the Pac-12 tournament, an NCAA tournament berth might not be set in stone quite yet.

“From what they tell me our computer numbers are good an everything.” Altman said.

“I like to think we’re in decent shape but we just hope to play well and improve,” he added.

“You talk about improving our stock, we just want to get better,” Altman said.

I am a journalism major and political science minor at University of Oregon. I graduated from Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon in 2010. I am interested in many aspects of journalism such as feature writing, hard news and multimedia. I like to write stories on music, politics, sports and fascinating stories which expand my mind.

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