Ben Carter

He’s Coming Basketball Fans — and You Will Know His Name — Abdul-Bassit

Yeah, so it’s baseball season, and Oregon’s basketball campaign ended late last month, but it’s never too early (or too late) to learn more about our beloved basketball Ducks.  Although players A.J. Lapray and Ben Carter are transferring away, sharp shooting Jalil Abdul-Bassit remains.  He may not have received much action this past season, but in Abdul-Bassit’s limited role he showed glimpses of a smooth game, a style that could transition well into the upcoming season.

Jalil A. Abdul-Bassit was born in the cold Alaskan town of Anchorage; also home to his close friend and Miami Heat point guard, Mario Chalmers.  In addition to Chalmers, Abdul-Bassit grew up around other basketball gurus, as well.

His high school coach was the incredible Chuck White who boasted an astounding career winning percentage of .802 that spanned 45 years.  White won a record 921 games, 18 state championships and besides coaching the promising Abdul-Bassit, he also groomed other Alaskan legends such as Trajan Langdon and Claude “Muff” Butler.

Butler is especially important in that he is considered a pick-up basketball legend and success story.  Utilizing a flashy point guard style that allowed him to dominate the Alaskan ranks, Butler eventually accepted a scholarship to the University of New Orleans.  Oh, yeah, “Muff” also happens to be Abdul-Bassit’s father.

As junior at West High School, Abdul-Bassit, under Coach White, won his first state championship.  During this season he averaged 14 ppg, while earning all-conference and all-region honors.  However, the next year he transferred across town to rival East High School for his senior season.

At East, Abdul-Bassit garnered an all-state selection after averaging a menacing 27 ppg for his new coach Fred Young.  Despite these impressive honors and statistics, Abdul-Bassit failed to attract much national attention.  So, much like his older sister Jalilah, he settled on playing his first year of college ball at Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York.

As a 6′-4″ freshman at Monroe College, Abdul-Bassit appeared in 31 of 37 games.  Although he only averaged around 3 ppg, the Mustangs still managed to finish fifth at that year’s NJCAA tournament.

And even in his limited role, Abdul-Bassit was able to showcase an impressive range of skills, particularly his silky-smooth jumper.  He was also quite versatile, able to play both the 2 and 3 positions where he would pass, shoot and occasionally take it to the hole.  But after realizing that his potential would never be fully realized in New York, Abdul-Bassit made his first school transfer, to North Idaho College (NIC), where his father had been an All-American.

That Silky Stroke

That Silky Stroke

Abdul-Bassit thrived at NIC, averaging 13 ppg and 3 rpg.  He was able to improve his game there due to a heavier dosage of minutes and deep-rooted support from the school’s athletic director Al Williams – who years earlier was a team mate of Abdul-Bassit’s father.

At NIC, Abdul-Bassit became an honorable mention All-American and all-region pick as a sophomore.  Again, this was mostly due to that silky stroke.  He shot 45% from the field, 81% at the line and 39% from beyond the arc.  And following back-to-back games in which he posted 27 and 28 points respectively, Abdul-Bassit verbally committed to the University of Oregon, making he and Butler the first father-son pair from Alaska to both play Division-1 basketball.  Abdul-Bassit even turned down an offer from the University of Washington, noting that he admired Oregon’s coaching staff, program and recent success.

Unfortunately, in his first year at Oregon Abdul-Bassit was joined by a plethora of other talented transfers.  Some of these players were older and more developed than he, ergo he was only able to make it on the court for an average of 6 minutes per game.  Of course, when he did get in, fans were witness to that pretty jumper they’d been hearing about.  During this past season, Abdul-Bassit averaged 2 ppg and 39% from three-land.

Look for Abdul-Bassit to come in ready to ball next year.  He should be able to play both wing positions, but no matter what role he ends up in, he can shoot it from all over the court.  Although he’ll have to battle for playing time with returning standouts Joseph Young, Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and incoming players Brandon Austin and JaQuan Lyle, Coach Dana Alman may choose to utilize Abdul-Bassit’s sweet shot and senior leadership.

It may be cold in Alaska, but Abdul-Bassit’s hot hand will be in Oregon this coming season — and you will know his name is Abdul-Bassit.

Top photo by Don Olsen

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Oregon Ducks Basketball: Ben Carter Among Two Leaving via Transfer

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Some news from the University of Oregon on Friday, not concerning injured Oregon Ducks Football player Wide Reciever Bralon Addison, but the Oregon Ducks Basketball Team. Two players will be transferring from the program for next season including Sophomore Ben Carter, who is looking for more playing time, and Freshman A.J. Lapray who is headed to Pepperdine.

Ben Carter

Ben Carter
Ben Carter | (Kevin Cline)

EUGENE, Ore. — The University of Oregon men’s basketball program has announced that forward Ben Carter and guard A.J. Lapray will transfer from the University.

“Ben and A.J. are both good young men and we wish them nothing but the best in the future,” said head coach Dana Altman.

Carter, a 6-8 post from Las Vegas, appeared in 62 games over two seasons, starting five. He totaled 152 points and 150 rebounds.

Lapray, a freshman guard from Salem, Ore., saw action in two contests this season.

The Ducks are set to return seven players from last season’s roster, which produced a 24-10 overall record and advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship tournament.

Press Release from the University of Oregon

For those reading and sensing panic, I will tell you there is nothing to worry about. The Oregon Ducks are in good hands with Head Coach Dana Altman and his ability to work ‘magic’ with possible tranferring players into the program. The perfect example in past years being Mike Moser and rebounding monster Arsalan Kazemi.

Joseph Young
Joseph Young drives down the court in Oregon’s exhibition win over NCU | (Eric Evans/GoDucks)

With Junior Joe Young announcing his return to Oregon earlier this week on Twitter and two players departing the Oregon Ducks have one available scholarship left to fill for the upcoming season. Altman could bring in a ‘splashy’ type player to fill that void.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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.

Jason Calliste and the Oregon Ducks Pull Off Monumental Upset Over Arizona

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With the Oregon Ducks down 48-42 to the Arizona Wildcats in the second half, in the final home game of his college career, G Jason Calliste wasn’t going to let Oregon go home empty handed.

Instead, Calliste proved once again that his veins are made of pure ice.

“I told myself that if we lose, it’s is on me. So I put the team on my back,” Calliste said.

“Jason was unbelievable,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman added. 

photo - Kevin Cline/fishduck.com
photo – Kevin Cline/fishduck.com

To begin Oregon’s magical run to victory on senior night, Calliste hit a three-pointer. Then after G Joseph Young hit a three of his own, Calliste made a shot that might go down as an all-timer in Oregon history. With defenders draped all over him, while being fouled, Calliste hit a deep two-point field goal on the outer edges of the court. 

“He just hit big shot after big shot down the stretch. You know he’s not afraid to take it. You run something for him, he’s not going to shy away at all,” Altman said.

After knocking down the free throw, the Ducks were up 53-51. If that wasn’t enough, Calliste knocked down another three-pointer and then made a smart pass out of a double team, which led to a wide-open three-pointer by UO PG Jonathan Loyd.

photo - Kevin Cline/fishduck.com
photo – Kevin Cline/fishduck.com

 

“Unbelievable young man. I really enjoyed coaching him(Loyd). He cares about his teammates as much as he cares about himself,” Altman said.

WIth 2:32 remaining, the Ducks(22-8, 10-8) held a 59-51 lead and kept the lead until the final buzzer, completing a 64-57 upset over the No. 3 ranked Wildcats(28-3, 15-3).

Both teams played with supreme intensity for 40 minutes, but pristine execution was non-existent in the first half. In half one, the number one most efficient defensive team in the nation stifled almost everything the Ducks tried to accomplish offensively. The Ducks were forced to resort to a ton a contested jump shots. The only player who could get inside the paint and score was Loyd. Loyd attacked the basket as well as he has all season and scored nine first half points.

“They really pushed out on us so Johnny got to the rim a couple times,” Altman said. 

However, Oregon scored just 29 points before the break and shot 37.5 percent from the field.

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photo – Kevin Cline/fishduck.com

The Ducks stayed in the game because of their intensity and pesky defense. In fact, Arizona turned the ball over nine times in the first half, but led 31-29 heading into halftime.

“With the energy in the building and the crowd, our defensive activity was unbelievable,” Altman said.  

At the start of the second half, UO F Mike Moser had a mini scoring burst. Moser tip-toed along the baseline past his defender for a lay-up and then knocked down a three-pointer in consecutive possessions.

Moser finished the game with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The forward’s four straight double-double’s is the most consecutive double-double’s by an Oregon player since Maarty Leunen in 2007.

arizona-oregonBB14_kc-2
photo – Kevin Cline/fishduck.com

On the other end, Arizona played more efficiently on offense and took a 48-42 lead with 7:51 remaining.

But from there on out, led by Calliste, it was all Ducks, all the time.

During Oregon’s 17-3 run late in the second half, Ben Carter stepped up big time on the defensive end.

“He contested a ton of shots and was really active out there,” Moser said.

“Ben Carter’s stepping up and making some plays, Wav’s(Waverly Austin) performance over the last couple games, it’s exciting to be able to count on those guys,” Altman said.

As you might expect, Calliste and Loyd led the Ducks in scoring, finishing with 18 points and 16 points respectively. Loyd’s 16-point effort was his highest scoring output since he put up 23 points on Dec. 8 against Ole Miss

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photo – Kevin Cline/fishduck.com

When the Ducks were 4-8 in the Pac-12, Loyd told reporters, following their victory over Oregon State to begin the winning streak, that the Ducks were going to make a run. After Oregon won its seventh game in a row Saturday afternoon, Loyd’s words proved prophetic.

“I don’t want to say I told you so but I did,” Loyd said while grinning. 

Altman commented on why players responded so well with their backs against the wall.

“A lot of guys would’ve quit, would’ve lost faith. Fortunately these guys didn’t. It shows the character in the room.”

Aaron Gordon, who barely picked the Wildcats over the Ducks as his college of choice, led the way for Arizona. The forward scored 21 points and eight rebounds, dominating Oregon with his rare combination of size, speed and athleticism.

Naismith trophy, given to the best player in the country, semifinalist Nick Johnson scored seven points in the first half, but was held to 1-7 shooting after the break.

“We were focused on him because he’s their best scorer. They were running home on baseline screens a lot, our guys were flying around. Our effort on those picks was good,” Altman said.

Though Oregon defeated the Wildcats, Altman still holds Arizona in extremely high regard.

“I still believe personally that they’re the best(team in the country) because of their defense. Defense wins game.”

photo - Kevin Cline/fishduck.com
photo – Kevin Cline/fishduck.com

The Oregon Ducks will begin the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday against Oregon State at 6 p.m. If they’re going to win the title and attain the highly coveted automatic NCAA tournament birth, the Ducks will have to to win four straight games. 

Loyd thinks they can.

“We can make some noise. We have all the weapons and all the depth.” 

After his last prophecy came to fruition, ignoring another Loyd prediction just seems foolish.

Ya Gotta Have Heart — Ducks Dancing in March?

EUGENE, OR. – You could tell there was a different feel in Matthew Knight Arena even before the game tipped off on Saturday afternoon.  Maybe it was because the entire arena was filled up for the first time in who knows how long, maybe it was because the Ducks’ seniors had one last chance to show off their skills at home, or maybe it was the fact that the Ducks KNEW they were going to upset No. 3 Arizona at home.

Either way, the Ducks did the unthinkable, and took down the talented Arizona Wildcat team, 64-57.  If the Ducks ever needed a statement game to prove their worthiness of dancing the mamba in the NCAA Tournament, this was the one, baby!

Johnny running the show baby!

Johnny running the show, baby!

“We didn’t play well,” said Coach Dana Altman after the game in regards to the first half.  Oregon shot an ugly 37.5% from the field in that first 20 minutes, and struggled getting things going early in this one, while Arizona was able to build some early momentum of their own with 48% shooting.

This was the type of game where if Oregon had a chance to win, EVERYONE would have to contribute.  Johnathan Loyd may be a little shorter than most guards in the NCAA, but my goodness does he have the biggest heart — and that’s what won the Ducks this one.

Loyd went for nine points and three steals in the first half, while orchestrating the offense as best he could.  Although the Ducks shot poorly early, everyone was getting his touches, as eight players were able to get on the scoreboard.

Thankfully, just because the Ducks weren’t shooting well doesn’t mean they weren’t defending well.  They held freshman phenom Aaron Gordon to eight points on 3-8 shooting, which was crucial to keeping the Ducks in this one.  Wildcat point guard Nick Johnson wasn’t able to provide too much either, as he had seven points at the half. Oregon’s weakness was its rebounding early on, as they were out-boarded, 21-13, giving Arizona more opportunities to score the ball, leaving the Ducks down, 31-29, at the half.

Jason Calliste leading the Ducks one and-one at a time

Jason Calliste leading the Ducks one-and-one at a time.

The second half was a different story for our Ducks.  Senior guard Jason Calliste took maters into his own hands on the offensive side of the ball, as not even the rain outside on Saturday could cool this guy off.

He dropped 18 points in the game, and every single one of those points came in the clutch.  From the three to end the half, to his ‘and-one’ jump shot, Calliste, as he put it, “put the team on my back.”

While Arizona was leading for the majority of the second half, this game resembled the Duck-’Cat game earlier this year, except the roles were switched.  The Ducks were the ones who came back from their deficit to pull out the victory.  It was a dynamic duo that we had never seen work so well together before between Loyd and Calliste.  Loyd took some hard shots toward the end of the game, but got back up like a true warrior to ensure that this one was not going to slip away.

The tide turned at the five-minute mark of the second half, when Joseph Young — who had a very quiet game — came up with a big-bang three, to tie things up, 50-50. Both Loyd and Calliste were patient, waiting for the right openings to attack the basket, and when the openings presented themselves, they slithered through and took it to the hoop.  With some huge defensive plays by Ben Carter throughout the second half, and with the Ducks beating the Wildcats on the second half boards, 22-14, Oregon sealed the deal on this game in one heck of a win.

Mike Moser with some great boxouts stopping Aaron Gordon  from taking over

Mike Moser with some great box-outs of Aaron Gordon.

Although Gordon finished with 21 points and eight boards, he shot a poor 7-17 from the field, thanks to the defensive work of the big men, Mike Moser in particular.  Although Moser’s offensive game may not have had the impact it had in previous games, his defense was sorely needed for the Ducks to come out with the win.

A lot of credit toward this win has to go to the fans of the Ducks. Normally, Matthew Knight is nowhere near full, but Saturday’s game was sold out!  The effects were definitely felt, thanks to the enthusiasm and the momentum built off the crowd noise.  Ducks fans, support ALL of your squads, not just those nationally recognized!

Oregon heads into the PAC-12 tournament next week on a seven-game winning streak, and at this point, I don’t think anyone’s excited to play the Ducks.  Calliste said it best in his post game interview, “It doesn’t matter what the name on your chest is.”  Truer words have never been spoken.

As long as the Ducks come out and play their game, they’re bound to do some damage, no matter who the opponent is, just as they proved yesterday.  Loyd said of this year’s team, “A lot of heart, but it’s not over yet.”  Good luck to the Ducks, as the road has just become much more difficult going forward.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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Bench to Trench — Reserve Ducks Dominate CW Battle

The Ducks held off the battling Beavers in Sunday’s Civil War game, but not necessarily because of the starting lineup.  Seeing the double-digit scoring figures by four of the five starters, people tend to focus all praise towards the fab five, but what about the “benchwarmers?”

Bench players are an important aspect of the game.  They serve as encouragers and they’re the chant starters, but more than that they are present and ready to take over in battle.

Oregon has a consistently strong lineup. It is important get off to a good start, and such energy usually comes from the intensity brought at tip-off.  However, the five starters cannot each play a full 40 minutes and maintain maximum effort the entire time.  Equally as important as a good start, is for those players who come off the bench to continue the momentum to cut a deficit or extend a lead.

The Oregon bench has out-scored its opponent's bench in 20 of the total 24 games this season.

The Oregon bench has out-scored its opponent’s bench in 20 of 24 games this season.

When someone in the starting five isn’t playing well, gets injured or needs a rest, one of the bench players trades places. Making the right substitution is critical because it gives the team a chance to either extend the lead or fight back from a deficit.

A great example of this was seen during the Civil War game.  Oregon had created a six-point lead over the Beavers, five minutes into the game.  At 14:43 remaining with the Ducks up 16-10, Jason Calliste and Ben Carter subbed in for Damyean Dotson and Austin Waverly.  Shortly after, Elgin Cook and Dominic Artis were switched for Mike Moser and Johnathan Loyd.  At this point, only one starter remained in the game. From here, the bench players helped extend the lead to the greatest margin of the game, 31-12, adding 15 points in just four minutes.

Jason Calliste has been an explosive player coming off the bench.

Jason Calliste has been an explosive player coming off the bench.

This resulted from steals and defensive rebounds that led to big three-point conversions.  Collectively, the Oregon bench contributed 23 points to the victory over OSU.  Calliste was the star off the bench, ending the game with 14 points and 4 steals.

In 20 of the 24 statistically documented games that the Ducks have played this year, Oregon’s bench has out-scored the opposing team’s by an average of 13 points a game.  Of the four games in which the Ducks’ bench was out-scored, two were by only one point.  Oregon’s bench players have scored a total of 696 points to date (29 per), as opposed to 388 (16) scored by their opponents.

This is a great relief for the Ducks knowing their bench can get things done when entering the game.  But why such a high differential?  The reasons are vast and vary greatly.

As a team, it is important to be on the same page.

As a team, it is important to be on the same page.

It could be because the starting lineup is not set in stone.  Recently, that lineup changed from those of previous games.  This change could potentially be dependent upon their particular opponent.

Taking a look at the season’s starters, the lineup consisting of Moser, Waverly, Joseph Young, Loyd and Dotson stayed the same for the first 11 games but has shifted thereafter.

Another reason for the high bench-point differential could be due to the performance of certain players. Some guys may be nursing injuries sustained in games or practices.  Perhaps the five most productive players should start the game.

Team chemistry may have something to do with it. It is a beautiful sight to see five players in sync with each other.  Likewise, it is an ugly mess to watch five players who seem each to be on a different page. When the starters are not clicking, adding a different player to that mix may make the right connection.

Lastly, work ethic, simply because actions speak louder than words.  The Oregon bench seems to play with more heart and intensity than their opponent’s bench.  They are also more productive, creating plays and adding points.  The Ducks who first enter the game sometime after tip-off know the importance of their presence.

“Pine-timers” in any sport often get a bad wrap or are overlooked.  Yet, much love goes out to the Oregon men who come off the bench to contribute.  They prove that they are just as important as the five who start the game.

Top photo by Craig Strobeck

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Oregon Ducks Can’t Seem To Get It Right in Fifth Straight Loss

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In the 296th meeting between the Oregon Ducks (13-5, 1-5) and the Washington Huskies (12-8, 4-3), the Ducks lost their fifth consecutive game of the season. The game was a back and fourth affair until Husky guard C.J. Wilcox started lighting up UO from beyond the arc. Wilcox finished the game with 23 points and shot 5-6 on three-point field goals and 7-11 from the field.

Wilcox’s three with 35 seconds left increased the Husky lead to four. The huge shot from the big time player forced Oregon to foul UW every possession for the rest of the game and UO couldn’t hit three-pointers to cut into the lead.

After allowing just 45 percent shooting to OSU, Oregon reverted back to its ineffective defensive ways. Whether it was Perris Blackwell bullying UO big men in the paint or Wilcox shooting uncontested jumpers, Washington seemed to get whatever they wanted and ended the game shooting 58 percent from the field.

But it wasn’t until after halftime that the Huskies really ran circles around the Ducks. Blackwell scored 13 of his 15 points and the Huskies shot nearly 70 percent in the second half.

“It’s kind of embarrassing just to let a team shoot 70-some percent in a (half) but we’ve got to put it behind us,” Joseph Young told Oregonian reporter Andrew Greif. 

The Ducks started the game hot, hitting their first three of four shots. However, they failed to reach double digits until 11:20 left in the first half. The bucket that put the Ducks at 11 points also snapped Young’s 3-17 cold spell that lasted nearly three games.

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Joseph Young goes up for a lay up. Photo by Gary Breedlove/FishDuck.com
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Jason Calliste attempts to bank a lay up while falling of of bounds. Photo by Gary Breedlove/FishDuck.com

Young may have shot just 5-14 from the field, but he scored 18 points and hit a deep three with 4:35 left to cut the UW lead to two. Jason Calliste added 11 points including an acrobatic fast break lay up while falling out of bounds for an and-one.

Oregon continued to get little production from its point guards Dominic Arits and Johnathan Loyd. Artis and Loyd combined to shoot 2-9 from the field. Artis, who started his first game of the year, did not record a single rebound or assist. Loyd didn’t make a field goal until under one minute left in the game. The duo rarely shoot three’s and don’t have enough size to score through traffic around the basket. Lately, they have been playing more like perimeter passers than point guards.

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Richard Amardi exuded passion all night long. Photo by Gary Breedlove/FishDuck.com

Although Ben Carter started over Richard Amardi, Amardi quickly established himself as a more competent anchor to the UO attack. Amardi seemed to be everywhere on the floor, playing with maximum effort and little restraint. His stat line included 11 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Carter finished with one point and four fouls.

Offensively, UO thrived in transition and on the glass. The Ducks grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and scored 15 fast break points. However, they couldn’t seem to crack the UW zone defense for most of the game and shot just 43 percent from the field. However, they made 18-19 free throws. The Ducks out-rebounded the Huskies 32-25 and lost their first game of the season when winning the rebounding battle.

Oregon will remain in the state of Washington for their next game against Washington State in Pullman on Sunday at 4 p.m. The Cougars will be UO’s first opponent in the Pac-12 season to have a below 500 winning percentage when playing Oregon. WSU is 331st in the nation in scoring and has failed to score 60 points in its last five games. If the Ducks even want to dream about an NCAA Tournament birth, they’re going to have to win this game.

 

 

 

Oregon Ducks Hoops Steal OT Victory From Utah Utes

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The No. 10 Oregon Ducks(13-0,1-0) committed grand theft in its 70-68 overtime victory on the road over the Utah Utes(11-2,0-1) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Damyean Dotson made the play of the season for UO, stealing a lackadaisical pass and delivering an emphatic dunk on the other end with .6 seconds remaining in OT.

photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com
photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com

The Utes must be shaking their heads, only able to imagine what easily could have been a huge victory over a top 10 team. With the ball in hand and with the shot clock expired at the end of regulation and in OT, the Utes had three opportunities to pull off game winners against Oregon. The result: Two missed three’s by star Jordan Loveridge and one turnover.

Dotson led the way for the Ducks in the closing minutes and throughout the second half. The UO guard was held scoreless in half one, but stepped up after the break, scoring 11 points including clutch free throws and an ankle breaking cross over and reverse lay up in the last few minutes of OT. Dominic Artis was also instrumental to UO’s victory. Artis kept the Ducks in the game when everyone else seemed hesitant and not sure how to attack the long and physical Utes defense. Artis finished with 12 points on 5-6 shooting and four steals.

photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com
photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com

Throughout most of the game, it looked as though Utah had too much size and length for Oregon to handle. The Utes hosted a block party for their home crowd to enjoy, mostly at the expense of poor Oregon forward Richard Amardi. Amardi was given ample opportunities to score around the rim, and did so at times. But the forward was blocked an astounding six times on the night. In total, Utah had nine blocks, four by athletic guard Delon Wright and two by behemoth big man Dallin Bachynski.

But despite being blocked so many times, Amardi led the Ducks in scoring with 14 points. The Utes strategy was to allow Ducks forwards to go one-on-one while protecting the three point line and keeping UO guards in check. The Ducks didn’t seem comfortable coping with this defensive game plan and started the game 1-11.

photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com
photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com

With the Ducks down ten and with the game slipping away, UO began to press more and raised its intensity level, which seemed to ignite Dotson and Johnathan Loyd(who finished with eight points). UO guards began breaking down the Utes guards at will. In consequence, the game changed.

Wright, who is the little brother of Blazer forward Dorell Wright, did a little bit of everything for the Utes. He had 14 points, six rebounds, four blocks, two steals and two assists on the night and made a few clutch baskets to keep the Utes afloat down the stretch in regulation. Loveridge may have scored 23 points, but he also shot 23 times. Bachynski finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Other than poor late game execution, long-range shooting was Utah’s biggest achilles heel. The Ducks were overmatched inside and often had to double team Utah bigs, creating wide-open 3-point looks. However, Utah could not cash in. Utah shot 3-19 beyond the three-point line. 

photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com
photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com

The game did not live up to being the type of barn burner most were expecting. The No. 1 ranked(Oregon) and No. 6 ranked(Utah) scoring offenses scored 20 and 19 points less than their season average respectively. However, the game was the most intense and physical of any game Oregon has played all season. The Ducks can likely expect to see their scoring average continue to drop throughout the competitive Pac-12 season.

Forward Elgin Cook had nine points and five rebounds, but delivered the strangest play of the game. After missing a pair of free throws in OT, Cook leaped in the air to grab the rebound and went up to dunk, but the rim catapulted the ball back into play because Cook held on to the rim too long. Ducks star Joseph Young had a quiet night, only netting nine points, and just two after the first half. UO head coach Dana Altman preferred to put the ball in Loyd, Dotson and Artis’ hands down the stretch. Moser struggled mightily for UO, making 1-8 shots for just three points.

photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com
photo by Craig Strobeck / fishduck.com

In arguably its biggest win of the year, UO improved to 3-0 on the season and started out what looks to be a brutal Pac-12 season with a quality road victory. Oregon continues its march to March Madness against the No. 20 ranked Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder, Colo., on Sunday, Jan. 5.

Ducks Basketball Mows Down Morgan State

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The Oregon Ducks steamrolled the Morgan State University Bears 97-76 at Matthew Knight Arena  in its final non-conference warmup before Pac-12 play. The Ducks continued their fruitful formula of shooting a ton of three’s and getting out in transition. They also stifled the overmatched Bears defensively, contesting a ton of low-percentage shots at the rim.

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photo by Don Olson

Morgan State gained a little confidence in the opening moments, scoring the first basket of the game and then turning a steal into a fast break lay-up. However, their hot start proved to be fools gold. The Bears may have embraced the Ducks up-tempo style of play, but did so with little-to-no success.

Throughout the rest of the first half, UO’s press ran Morgan State ragged. Oregon had 19 fast break points compared to just four for Morgan State. As usual, Joseph Young led the way for Oregon, scoring 17 points, including two three-pointers and three and-one’s.

The Ducks led 54-30 at the half.

photo by Don Olson
photo by Don Olson

Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman must have struck a chord with his players in half two because the Bears came out with much greater intensity and effort and cut the UO lead to 19 with 12 minutes left. The Bears ended up winning the second half by three points.

However, the team just didn’t have the ball movement needed to have consistent success against UO’s pressure defense. The Bears only had one assist in the first half and finished the game with just eight. Justin Black led the way for the Bears, scoring 20 points on 6-13 shooting.

photo by Don Olson
photo by Don Olson

Oppositely, Oregon passed the ball quite well, accumulating 21 assists. Though 18 turnovers won’t make head coach Dana Altman too happy. Oregon finished the game shooting 54 percent from the field and 46 percent from the three-point line while the Bears shot 44 percent from the field and 33 percent from the three-point line.

Young shined the brightest for UO, scoring 24 points on 9-13 shooting while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out four assists. Starting forward Richard Amardi also played well, especially around the rim, making 8-9 field goals and scoring 16 points. Jason Calliste epitomized efficiency, scoring 10 points despite only recording one shot attempt. Damyean Dotson added 15 points on 5-8 shooting.

photo by Don Olson
photo by Don Olson

Jalil Abdul-Bassit continued to step up when given the opportunity. The forward who didn’t play against BYU, scored nine points and nailed two three-pointers. Abdul-Bassit will be a nice safety net for UO’s arsenal on the perimeter.

The lone disappointment for the Ducks is the continued rust of Dominic Artis and Ben Carter. Carter did not make a field goal the entire game and didn’t make much of an impact defensively or on the boards. Artis started to gain some comfort in the second half, but has yet to play up to the level he set when he led UO to a 17-2 record before being sidelined with a foot injury last season. Artis finished with seven points on 2-6 shooting while Carter went 0-3 and scored three points.

The Oregon Ducks finished up non-conference play without a single blemish on its resume. Though the team still has some kinks to fix, including rebounding and incorporating Carter and Artis, UO has shown rare scoring ability and outstanding offensive chemistry. The Ducks begin Pac-12 play with a couple tough road games, first against 11-1 Utah and second against No. 21 ranked and 11-2 Colorado on Jan. 5.

Ducks: The Return of Artis and Carter

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The No. 13 ranked Oregon Ducks(10-0) defeated the UC Irvine Anteaters 91-63 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene Ore., in Ben Carter and Dominic Artis’ first game back from suspension and first game of the season. The Anteaters were able to stay even with UO through the first five minutes, but just couldn’t consistently keep pace with one of the most explosive teams in the nation.

image - Don Olson/Fishduck.com
image – Don Olson/Fishduck.com

Led by the tallest player in college basketball, 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye,the one advantage the Anteaters had over the Ducks was size. Though Ndiaye was able to block a few shots, he was a non-factor in the paint and on the boards. UC Irvine didn’t seem interested in getting the Senegalese big man the ball down low, probably due to his apparent lack of coordination. They also weren’t able to out-rebound the Ducks. UO finished with 39 boards compared to UC Irvine’s 36.

image - Don Olson/Fishduck.com
image – Don Olson/Fishduck.com

Oregon countered UC Irvine’s towering size, with speed and especially three point shooting. The Ducks worked the ball around the court as well as they have all season and created numerous three point opportunities, converting 7-10 in the first half and 12-19 in the game. The Ducks also finished with 17 assists. Mike Moser led the way for UO,accumulating 15 points, six rebounds, three steals and one block. Joseph Young was the Ducks high scorer, adding 18 points.

image - Don Olson/Fishduck.com
image – Don Olson/Fishduck.com

The return of Dominic Artis and Ben Carter didn’t hinder UO’s chemistry. Oppositely, each added his own flavor to the Ducks melting pot. Artis converted a floater and a few high risk passes as well as leading the Ducks with eight rebounds. He also had five points and three assists. Carter added a little bit of everything, including a midrange jumper on the baseline and a hook shot in the post. The UO big man finished with four points, four rebounds three assists and two steals. Though he only made 2-7 shots.

Instead of easing Artis into the rotation, head coach Dana Altman opted to force him to play through the rust. The Duck PG played more minutes(26) than any UO player(though this can partially be attributed to starting PG Jonathan Loyd getting into some foul trouble).

Both teams played a lot of pressure defense, but only UO was able to force offensive discomfort and create turnovers. UO forced 19 turnovers and only committed 11.

image - Don Olson/Fishduck.com
image – Don Olson/Fishduck.com

Guard Matt Davis led the way for the Anteaters, converting mid range bank shots, second chance points and getting to the free throw line. He even led all scorers with 20 points. Ndiaye finished the game with seven points, seven rebounds and four blocks. The Anteaters starters played well, outscoring UO starters 57-53(Though this is mostly a result of playing more minutes). However, their bench was only able to accumulate one field goal and three points. The Ducks bench on the other hand had a productive 38 points. Jason Calliste scored 10 points to lead the UO bench.

Due to the lopsided nature of the contest and the return of Artis and Carter, Altman instituted his most expansive rotation of the season. In fact, all players played and scored besides guards Theo Friedman and Nicholas Lucenti. Plus, Jalil Abdul Bassit recorded a season high eight points.

image - Don Olson/Fishduck.com
image – Don Olson/Fishduck.com

The Ducks get one step closer to the Pac-12 season on Saturday in a matchup against BYU. The game will represent a clash between high-powered offenses, as BYU ranks eighth in the nation in points per game. It will once again be played at Matthew Knight Arena and will be Oregon’s second to last preseason game.