— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor
Lets talk a little sports.
First off, the soap opera between the Oregon football program and the NCAA continues. Just about two weeks ago, the NCAA came out with findings of recruiting violations between 2008 and 2011.
Undoubtedly, some of you are nervous about what that could mean for the Ducks in the near future. Well, you never can tell until any penalties are actually levied, but I don’t think any severe harm is going to occur when it’s all said and done.
I’ve always maintained that what likely happened here is that there was stumbling into a grey area. Do the rules need to be clarified so situations like this never happen again? Absolutely.
But does Oregon deserve to have wins vacated as well as receive a two-year postseason suspension? Probably not and they probably won’t.
If you’re still worried, let me ask you something: do you think Chip Kelly would’ve turned down the chance to coach in the NFL if he was going to be in a potential mess? That’s what I thought.
No, the Ducks will be fine in the end, so you can turn your attention towards wondering how much De’Anthony Thomas will be in 2012. Considering how phenomenal he was last season, it will be interesting to see how many records he breaks in his college career.
It’ll also be intriguing to find out how the Oregon men’s basketball team winds up in the postseason. They’ve played well enough, from my standpoint, to warrant getting into the NCAA Tournament.
I know some people will argue that the Pac-12 is a weak conference, and the Ducks didn’t measure up in top non-conference games against Vanderbilt, BYU, and Virginia. But they weren’t the same team at the start of the year that they are now.
They didn’t have Devoe Joseph in the lineup when the opened at Vandy. It took awhile for the newcomers like Tony Woods and Olu Ashaolu to figure out how to play with Garrett Sim and E.J. Singler.
I’m willing to bet if they were to play these teams again, the Ducks would beat every one of them. (Well, maybe Virginia would be a reach, but not the other two). Of course, if Oregon wins the Pac-12 Tournament, they’ll be guaranteed a spot in the big dance and we can end the speculating. Can they do it? We’ll see, but I like their chances.
Staying on Oregon hoops for a while longer, some people have argued that Dana Altman should already be considered one of the best coaches in the program’s history. Now, what Altman has done so far (averaging just over 20 wins in the past two seasons) has certainly exceeded initial expectations. By the same token, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
He still hasn’t gotten the Ducks into the big tourney yet (though he soon will). Nor has he taken Oregon to the Elite Eight a couple times as Ernie Kent did, or won the whole thing like Howard Hobson.
I’m not trying to demean Altman’s performance by any stretch of the imagination. He’s proven himself to be a solid coach, and I think he could very well go down as one of the greatest in Oregon history. But like anything else, there are still some chapters in this story before we can provide an ending.
The same can be said for the Knicks’ sensation Jeremy Lin. Sure, he’s given a lot of folks a reason to watch the NBA again. With the way he’s been playing, it’s a wonder why New York even considered cutting him off the team. Heck, what were the Golden State Warriors thinking by letting him go? (Scratch that thought. I already know why: they’re the Warriors).
However, for people to start comparing Lin to Magic Johnson at this juncture is a little far-fetched. For one thing, Lin has to play at this high level for a full season before we can even start this discussion. Well, that and he needs to show he can do it in a playoff game or two as well.
Still, there’s no question that Lin has been one of the better feel-good stories of the year and you hope he can keep it going. I’d certainly rather talk about him than LeBron or the despicable Oklahoma City Thunder. (Sorry, but as a long-time Sonics’ fan, I will never root for OKC).
On a closing note, this is my last column at EDN for the foreseeable future. I’m going to continue writing for various outlets while I attend to other business. I may very well end up writing a sports column for this organization again in the near future. Let’s be clear about something: I may be leaving, but I am not going away.
So until next time, I will definitely see you in the bleachers.