College Hoops Roundup

College Basketball Roundup


— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

Duck Men Get A Huge Victory, Women Take A Step Back

Garrett Sim scored the first eight points of Thursday's game. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Oregon men’s basketball team needed a big win at home and they got it on Thursday night.  A few days after getting beaten in a heart breaker at Colorado, the Ducks took out their frustrations on conference-leading Washington 82-57.  It was a night when everything seem to click for Oregon at Matt Knight Arena.

“We just needed a game like that,” explained forward E.J. Singler. “After losing at Colorado, we knew needed to take the next two at home. We know how big they are, and we just wanted to come out and play with a lot of passion. I thought us playing with a lot of enthusiasm really sparked us.”

Dana Altman loved the home crowd's enthusiasm. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The biggest spark, without question, came from guard Garrett Sim.  He scored the first eight points of the game, and was one of three Ducks with 13 points.  Oregon’s ability to jump on the athletic Huskies early was crucial to the victory, as it forced UW to play chase for the remainder of the evening.  Moreover, it provided the home crowd of 9,035 a reason to make plenty of noise.

“We gave the crowd something to cheer about,” said head coach Dana Altman. “Garrett hitting those first shots really got the fans in the game. There was a lot of intensity in the building and that really helped us.”

The win catapulted the Ducks into a three-way tie for third in the Pac-12 conference, as well as place them a game behind Cal and Washington for first place.  Now the Ducks need a similar effort again on Saturday afternoon to stay in the race.  They’ll face Washington State, before heading on the road against Cal and Stanford next week.

Meanwhile, the Oregon women’s team came up just a little short in Seattle on Thursday night.  The Ducks rallied from a 15 point second-half deficit, but it wasn’t enough as Washington held on for a 72-69 victory.

There was one bright spot in the loss: Amanda Johnson had another sensational game.  Johnson put up 26 points, and it’s clear she’s recovered well from the thumb injury that sidelined her for a few weeks.

The loss snapped Oregon’s two game winning streak (over Utah and Colorado last week) and now have an overall record of 13-11 (5-7 in the Pac-12).  The Ducks will look to regroup against 10-14 Washington State in Pullman on Saturday.

OSU Men Fall, Beaver Women Keep Rising

Jared Cunningham scored 33 points on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Jared Cunningham can’t do it by himself.  The Beavers’ point guard led his team with 33 points, but his team got flattened 83-73 against Washington State on Thursday night.  A shocking outcome for two reasons.  First of all, Oregon State was playing in Corvallis.  Secondly, it seemed like the Beavers were starting to play together and this effort was a setback.

Perhaps on a night when Cunningham put up great numbers, it is this single digit that doomed Oregon State:  Zero.  That’s the number of points the Oregon State bench scored in the first half. As a result, the Cougars were able to build a 15 point advantage and remained in control the rest of the way.

Now the Beavers find themselves with a 5-7 Pac-12 record (15-9 overall), and tied for eighth in the conference standings. If that wasn’t bad enough, Oregon State will be facing a very dangerous Washington squad on Saturday.  The Pac-12 leaders took one on the chin in Eugene on Thursday, and will no doubt bring their ‘A’ game to Gill Coliseum as a result. In other words, head coach Craig Robinson had better make the necessary adjustments or it could be a long day.

Craig Robinson and his Beavers will have their work cut out for them with UW. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Over on the women’s side, there’s plenty to smile about for OSU.  The Beavers won their fifth game in a row on Thursday night, defeating Washington State 51-39 in Pullman.  Just consider it one more impressive notch on this year’s resume for them.

Scott Rueck’s team now has an overall 16-7 record, and now finds themselves in third place in the Pac-12 standings.  The Beavers will visit Washington on Saturday, before a real measuring stick comes next week.  That’s when the always tough Bay Area schools (Cal and Stanford) visit Corvallis. Should be an interesting few games for this bunch.

Some Ducks Are Rising…While More Could Be Leaving


— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

An amazing men’s basketball game on Saturday.  UCLA had Oregon dead in the water in the first half with a 37-24 lead.  The Ducks couldn’t hit a shot into the Willamette River, while the  Bruins’ big men dominated the paint.

Sorry Tampa Bay, no Chip for you. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

But a funny thing happened after halftime.  Oregon came out firing on all cylinders, while UCLA’s inside presence went from titanium to tissue.  As a result, the Ducks were able to pull out  a 75-68 victory at Matt Knight Arena.

Let’s be clear about something: This was a game Oregon would not have won last year or the year before.  E.J. Singler, who led the Ducks with a career-high 26 points, considers this win a character check.

“We showed toughness and heart today,” said Singler. “Coming out and winning feels good, shows we have heart, and that means a lot.”

It means plenty for their place in the Pac-12 standings, too.  The Ducks now have a 6-2 conference record, and are tied for first place with Cal.  Still, there’s plenty of basketball to be played, and Oregon will have to be ready for every opponent.

They certainly won’t be taking Oregon State lightly when they come to town this coming Sunday. Sure, the Beavers haven’t lit up the conference this season, but they have won two in a row and have the talent to upset a lot of teams.

E.J. Singler scored a career-high 26 points on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

“They can beat anyone in the conference,” Singler explained. “Their stats don’t show how good they are playing. They are playing very tough.”

Meanwhile, the Oregon women’s basketball team might be getting it together as well. After getting thumped 92-73 at USC Thursday, the Ducks came out with a much better performance  Saturday.  Thanks to the 21 points from Jasmin Holliday, they stunned UCLA 82-63 and this could change the outlook for their season.

Had they lost this one, the perception would’ve been that another subpar season was on the way in the Willamette Valley.  Instead, the Ducks now have an overall 11-9 record and are perhaps a few more wins away from some kind of postseason berth.

They still need to play with a tad more consistency, but it appears that Paul Westhead has this program on the right track.  Good for him.  His legendary status in the game of hoops aside, it is always a pleasure to talk to this man and I hope he can add to his illustrious resume while he’s in Eugene.

Of course, you can check out plenty more about the basketball scene this coming Wednesday when our weekly college hoops roundup comes out.  It should become required reading for many weeks to come.

Moving onto the football soap opera, you might need to add another name to the departing list.  First, LaMichael James declared for the NFL Draft.  Then last week, Darron Thomas decided to also take his game to the next level.  Now, rumor has it that Chip Kelly might be taking the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

By the time you read this column, the deal could be done.  If so, it’s hard to say why Chip exactly took the job at this time.  Maybe he felt that, after three consecutive BCS Bowl appearances, that it was time for a new challenge that only the NFL could provide. (ED – According to ESPN, Chip Kelly has declined the Buccaneers offer of immense wealth and status.)

Whatever the rationale, a quick word or two for those now believing that the sky is falling. It’s important to remember that while Kelly did have unprecedented success at Oregon, the foundation for those accomplishments had been paved for many years (going back to Rich Brooks).  Second, if Chip does leave, there are a lot of high-profile coaches that will want to take his place.

This is still a team loaded with talent and the fancy facilities are about to get that much fancier. I could see Chris Petersen from Boise State taking a phone call on this one. Heck, I could even see a wild card like Jon Gruden considering coming here.

The point is that whether Kelly stays or goes, the recent successes of Oregon football are not coming to an end. They are still very much in the beginning stages. Should be fun watching this whole thing play out, either way.

But since we are talking about the NFL, let’s shift the attention to this past weekend’s playoff action.  In the NFC Championship, the New York Giants eeked out a 20-17 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers.  Why do I bring this up?  Because this game increased my admiration for one Eli Manning.

Eli Manning has been impressive during the NFC Playoffs. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The guy won a Super Bowl a few years ago, but people have dismissed him and claim he’ll never be as good of a quarterback as his brother Peyton.  Yet, despite the odds, he helped quietly lead the Giants to three impressive playoff victories over the Falcons, Packers, and the Niners.

In the most recent case, he was repeatedly knocked onto the muddy turf but was able to get up and throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns.  Oh, and if the Giants win the big game against New England in a couple weeks, it would give him two Super Bowl rings to his big brother’s one.  Should that happen, wouldn’t that make Eli the better quarterback of the two? I sure think it would.

Now for a quick word on something else you could be seeing this coming Friday. As I’ve stated many times, I’m ramping up the prep coverage in this sports section.  If the logistics are worked out in the next couple of days (as I think they will), I’ll make a point of formally announcing what we’ll be bringing to the table for the remainder of the year in the weekly prep basketball roundup.  Right now, all I can say is I’m excited about the potential this new component could have and I think you will be too.

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





College Hoops Roundup 1-19-2012


— Sam Finley, EDN Sports

Critical Week For OregonThe Duck men come into this week with plenty of momentum after two solid wins in the desert.  Last Thursday, Oregon edged Arizona State 67-58 in Tempe. Two days later in Tucson, the Ducks were able to hold off a second half surge by the Wildcats and held on for a 59-57 victory over Arizona.

Dana Altman considers every game important. (Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It marked the first Oregon road sweep over the Arizona schools since the 2006-2007 season.  More importantly, it gave the Ducks a 4-2 record in Pac-12 play.  That puts them one game behind Stanford, Cal, and Washington in the conference standings.Now, comes a critical week for these Ducks.  USC and UCLA are coming to town, if Oregon can take care of their home court, it’ll mean they could be contenders for the Pac-12 crown.  Forward Jeremy Jacob said the key will be learning from went well from their recent successes.“We just need to build from the two wins we had at Arizona,” Jacob explained. “We’re really playing against ourselves. No matter who we play against, we want to do what we’ve got to do.”

On paper, it looks like Thursday night’s game against the 0-5 Trojans would be in Oregon’s favor.  Conversely, Saturday’s matchup with the 3-2 Bruins could present a stiff challenge. But head coach Dana Altman stated that his team won’t be overlooking anyone this week, and cited that the new conference format (after expansion) makes every game even more crucial.

Jeremy Jacob (right) says the Ducks must build from their recent victories. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

“We’ve previously played the same schools twice in one year,” said Altman. “But this season, we’ll only play the Arizona schools once as well as USC and UCLA once. It’s going to make important if you have any ties at the end of the season with those teams. The top four teams in the conference tournament get byes in the first round and everyone else has to play. So finishing in that top four is going to be pretty important, but all the games we play are going to be important.”

Over on the women’s side, you saw a little bit of everything from Oregon again.  Last Thursday, the Ducks were able to get their fast-paced tempo going and cruised to a  87-73 win over Arizona at Matt Knight Arena.

On Thursday, however, Oregon couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half against Arizona State.  The Ducks really weren’t able to run the floor until late in the second half, and the Sun Devils held on for a 53-49 victory.

Paul Westhead’s squad now has a 2-4 record in the Pac-12, and you still can’t tell which way they could go this season.  They’ve had nice performances recently by freshman guard Lexi Petersen and sophomore Danielle Love.  But it’s clear they’ve missed the injured Amanda Johnson and her 20 points per game.  When she’s able to play again, this could be a fun team to watch.

Until then, it’s probably not the best time for these Ducks to go on the road to Southern California.  But since they don’t control the schedule, that’s what they must do.  They’ll tussle with 4-1 USC on Thursday night before visiting 2-3 UCLA this Saturday.

Beavers Need To Get Back On Track

The OSU men would love to replay their non-conference schedule again.  They finished 10-2 before starting Pac-12 play.  Since starting that slate, however, the Beavers find themselves with a 1-5 record and near the conference cellar.

Craig Robinson's Beavers need a couple wins. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Last week was another frustrating road trip for Craig Robinson’s crew. They lost 81-73 in overtime to Arizona on Thursday.  Then, over the weekend, the Beavers sputtered in Tempe as ASU prevailed 76-66.

Maybe some home cooking at Gill Coliseum is what these guys need.  They’ll get their chance to reverse course against UCLA on Thursday night.  The Beavers will then host USC on Saturday evening.

This team has got plenty of talent with older guys like Jared Cunningham and Joe Burton, as well as sophomore Devon Collier.  Buy they don’t seem to be able to put it all together for a consistent 40 minutes.  There’s still time for a potential postseason run, but clock ticks louder on those chances with every loss.

Meanwhile, the Oregon State women’s team has been surprisingly competitive, all things considered.  Two years ago, this program was literally rebuilding its roster when Scott Rueck took the coaching reins.  But they currently find themselves with an overall 11-6 record and are 2-3 in Pac-12 play.

Joe Burton and Jared Cunningham are two of OSU's most talented players. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Their past week was a bit of a mixed bag for them.  On Thursday, the Beavers battled for a 56-51 win over Arizona State.  However, they took one on the chin Saturday, losing 58-56 against Arizona.

This week in L.A. won’t be easy, either.  They’ll visit UCLA on Thursday evening, and then challenge USC Saturday.  A split might be all the Beavers can hope for on this trip.  Still, it would be another step in the right direction if they can pull it off.