Ducks Could Be Playing For ‘Madness’…


— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

E.J. Singler scored 23 points against WSU. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Could March Madness strike Eugene? After the Oregon men’s last home stand, that is a distinct possibility.  The Ducks destroyed Washington 82-57 on Thursday, and followed it up with a 78-69 victory over Washington State on Saturday.

A big reason for Oregon’s success this season has been the play of E.J. Singler, and that was especially true against the Cougars.  Singler led the Ducks with 23 points by taking advantage of virtually every opportunity he had with the ball in his hands.

“I got some open looks,” he said afterwards. “The team gave me some good passes and I took the shots.”

He took the shots and hit them. More importantly, Singler’s play got the crowd into the action.  Matt Knight Arena has sounded quiet at times this season, a far cry from the enthusiastic crowds at Mac Court. But maybe the way the Ducks are playing will change that, especially now that they’re one game out of first place in the Pac-12.

Dana Altman is happy with the position of his Ducks, but understands there's still a lot of work to do. (Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

That’s right, despite a couple tough losses in recent weeks (to Oregon State and Colorado), Oregon still has a shot to win the conference. The Ducks might even have to do that to assure themselves a trip to the NCAA Tournament, and they’ve got a couple hard road games in front of them before they can even think about this possibility.

They’ll face Cal on Thursday, and then visit Stanford on Sunday. Neither place has been historically kind to Oregon.  Still, if they can get a split on this trip, the Ducks will be in good shape going into their last three games of the regular season. Head coach Dana Altman is pleased to be in the postseason chase, despite all the work that remains.

“It’s fun to have it be February and still be in the hunt,” Altman explained. “But we still have a long ways to go to be the team in March that we want to be.”

Either way, it should be an interesting three weeks before the Pac-12 Tournament. What do I see happening?  Right now, your guess is as good as mine, but it’ll be fun to watch.

Moving on to another topic, baseball season is right around the corner. That brings up one of the most debated questions in sports: Should Pete Rose be allowed into the Hall of Fame?

There’s no question that Rose was an outstanding player during his long career.  His record of 4,256 hits will never get broken (at least in my lifetime). I also respect the hard-nosed hustle he provided every time he picked up a bat or ran the bases.

He bet on the game, however, and that’s been the long-time cardinal sin in the game of baseball.  That rule has been posted on every clubhouse wall for a reason.  It’s also why he’s serving a lifetime banishment from the sport.

Now, if he were to sincerely apologize for his actions (not that half-baked admission he made to sell a book nine years ago), there might be grounds to let him back into baseball. (As well as give him a shot in the Hall).  Until then, Pete knew what he was doing and is getting exactly what he deserves.

In other matters, someone recently asked me who my favorite NBA team is.  Well, that’s a tricky one.  I really don’t have a team to root for these days, though I do have one that I go against.

Sam Finley respects Kevin Durant, but has no love for his Thunder. (Photo Credit: Brett Deering/Getty Images)

You see, I grew up in the Seattle area and was an avid fan of the SuperSonics.  I remember going to games, and seeing guys like Jack Sikma, Gus Williams, Xavier McDaniel, Gary Payton, and Shawn Kemp.  They were always fun to watch, win or lose.

Unfortunately, some jerk named Clay Bennett (with an assist from the league) bought the team a few years ago and moved them to Oklahoma City. (I highly recommend watching the documentary “Sonicsgate” on the internet for more info on this outrage).  Thus, I openly want to see every team (including the Lakers) knock the stuffing out of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Understand, I have nothing against the players on that team. Kevin Durant is, without question, one of the top five players in the game right now. But I will never, ever, cheer for a squad that is playing in a town it has no business being in.

Maybe when my hometown gets a new NBA franchise (could happen as early as next year), I’ll cool my jets on this subject.  I doubt it, however.

The Sonics were a part of my childhood and they wore green and gold. What colors do the Thunder wear? Blue and some other shade that resembles something that needs to be flushed down the toilet. Yuck.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.


Sam Finley is a local sports writer and enthusiast. He is a feature writer for Eugene Magazine and a for hire freelance writer. Sam can be reached at [email protected]

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