Duck football - Page 191

Lavasier Tuinei Signs With the New England Patriots

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Lavasier Tuinei
Lavasier Tuinei
(Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Former Oregon Ducks football star wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei has signed a free agent contract with the New England Patriots.

Tuinei, the 2012 Rose Bowl for the Ducks over Wisconsin, was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as a rookie free agent on April 29, 2012. Tuinei bounced around, spending time with the Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys.

Tuinei will be up against former Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly next week when the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles square off for both team’s first preseason exhibition. The game will be on August 9th and should be Tuinei’s first chance of showing why the team should retain him through the season.

As mentioned before, Tuinei came up big in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin and had a strong  performance against Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. He seemed to always make a big play when one was needed.

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#87 – Darren Carrington

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Oregon Ducks wide receiver Darren Carrington, a freshman from Horizon High School (San Diego, California), enters his first season in the Oregon program.

Before joining the Ducks, Carrington lettered four seasons of varsity football while becoming one of the top offensive prospects in the San Diego area. Carrington, a two-way star, played quarterback and wide receiver on offense as well as safety on the defensive side of the ball. As a freshman he finished with eight catches for 122 yards (15.3 YPC) and two touchdowns, then followed that with 37 for 825 yards (22.3 YPC)and 10 scores. Carrington’s junior season served as a launch point into his legendary prep career. He finished 2011 with 1,543 total yards and 12 touchdowns via the ground and through the air both passing and catching. As a senior he led the team with 51 receptions for 902 yards (17.7 YPC) and 12 touchdowns along with 36 rushes for 202 yards (5.6 YPC) and two additional scores.

Carrington was named a unanimous four-star by Scout, Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports. He held scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Michigan, Ohio State and Vanderbilt amongst other programs before choosing the Ducks.

Going into the 2013 season, Carrington will redshirt and help participate on the scout team. Through practices and film study, Carrington will help the Ducks game plan for opponents while continuing to blossom into a Division 1 player. With the Ducks boasting an aging receiving corp, Carrington could see significant playing time after next season.

Some Ducks Are Rising…While More Could Be Leaving

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— 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.

 

 

 

 

Is LaMichael Staying or Going?

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— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

Looked at any interesting stuff about LaMichael James recently? The rumors have been flying since a report came out in The Oregonian on Thursday that the Ducks’ running back would enter the NFL draft after the Rose Bowl.

Or did he? Because there’s also been reports that contradict the story that has everyone talking. Aside from a brief denial on his Facebook page, James hasn’t been able to  address the situation until yesterday. Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled that certain people were getting information about him from ESPN.

LaMichael James has not decided whether he'll enter the NFL Draft after the Rose Bowl yet. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“There’s really nothing going on,” said Oregon’s all-time leading rusher emphatically. “I don’t really know what happened with that deal. My family called me and asked if I had declared for the draft.”

Moreover, James wasn’t happy about hearing that he had make a decision he claims he hasn’t made.

“I think it’s kind of an unfair statement for someone to say something I didn’t say,” he explained. “If (running backs coach Gary) Campbell didn’t say it, then nobody really knows what happened. Because if I’m going to tell someone what I’m going to do, it’s going to be him. I haven’t discussed that with him or my family.”

In fact, James isn’t really focusing on what’ll he’ll do next until after a certain game in Pasadena.

“I’m really not thinking about it,” he stated. “The thing I’m thinking about is winning the game on January 2nd. I don’t want to make a decision or an announcement on it. My future is irrelevant right now. Come January 3rd, it will be relevant when the season is over. But I owe it to my teammates, the fans, and my coaches to think about the Rose Bowl. That is my important goal right now.”

De'Anthony Thomas is thrilled to be playing at home in January. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Ah yes, with all the scuttlebutt about their star back, you may have forgotten that the fifth-ranked Ducks are playing Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. They started up practices again over the weekend and James believes the team is going back to basics right now.

“We’re getting back to the fundamentals,” said James. “Everybody is pretty much healthy right now. I think we’re really happy to get back out here with each other.”

As for the drama surrounding James, his teammates aren’t letting it become a distraction. Just ask De’Anthony Thomas.

“That’s his decision,” explained the freshman phenom. “I’m happy for him and good luck to him. I would miss him if he was gone. Just being around him has motivated me to work hard and be a great leader. My job has been to contribute off him and he’s been my motivation.”

If anyone is excited for the matchup in Pasadena, it is Thomas. He grew up in the L.A. area and loves the chance to play in front of friends and family.

“It’s a great feeling to play back home,” said Thomas. “It’s just a great feeling to make it to the Rose Bowl. I know our team can’t wait, and we’ll see what happens.”

Speaking of which, a lot has been made about Wisconsin’s offensive prowess with good reason. The Badgers’ running back Montee Ball is a one-man scoring machine, and their quarterback Russell Wilson is a dual-threat.  But the Ducks aren’t overlooking their defense, either.

“They’re really good,” said offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich with a wry smile. “They’re rock-solid end to end. Up front, they’re very good. Their linebackers are spectacular, and might be the two best guys we’ve played all year. They have tremendous tacklers in their secondary.”

There lies the challenge for the speedy Oregon offense.

“You don’t see anyone run out of tackles against these guys,” Helfrich stated. “When we get in a one-on-one situation, we try to make the guy miss. That doesn’t happen too often with these guys. They’re incredibly sound in what they do.”

Moving onto to some other stuff, I want to make some things clear about my views on the meteoric success of Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos.  I don’t dislike the guy, but I haven’t been ready to crown him as the greatest thing going in sports at the moment.

Tim Tebow, contrary to some, isn't winning these games singlehandedly. (Photo Credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Sure, he’s been leading great drives in the final two minutes. However, hasn’t Denver’s defense had a role in setting him up for all those heroic comebacks?  They’ve been playing out of their minds the past few weeks.

For that matter, how the other teams have executed have had something to do with it, too. It seems like the opponents have played their usual schemes for three quarters well on Tebow, and then go (inexplicably) to a prevent defense.  Hasn’t any squad learned that the only thing a prevent does is prevent you from winning?

That’s particularly true against Tebow. While he doesn’t have the most accurate arm, he can inexplicably throw it on the money when the defensive backs are giving his receivers plenty of room.  It happened in the most recent miracle last Sunday against Chicago.

The Bears were leading 10-0 with a couple minutes left in the game, and had been aggressive against Tebow all day.  Then, they started playing soft and Tebow burned them for a touchdown that was the catalyst for another storybook affair.

But, in all fairness, Chicago’s defense wasn’t ultimately the reason they ended up losing 13-10 in overtime to the Broncos. You can blame that one on the Bears’ running back Marion Barber.

All he had to do on what should’ve been their final possession was take the handoffs and stay in bounds. That’s something you learn at the Pop Warner level when you have a lead and the other guys are out of timeouts.  Instead, Barber decided to run towards the sidelines and got pushed into the Chicago bench.

What a chowder head. If anything, he’s more responsible for the Broncos’ last win than Tebow. Did Tebow stop the clock for Denver in that situation, providing more than enough time to then tie the game? No.

Like I said, I don’t hate Tebow. I’m merely saying there have been other factors at work and I’ll wait a little longer before putting him in the same conversation of quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

With that, I’ve got some Christmas shopping to do. But check back here next Sunday, when I will have a very special column for you to read.

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

 

The Stakes Are Even Higher Now…

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By Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

Let’s get this one out of the way: Lindsay McCormick and I were right. We said in last Friday’s column that Oregon would topple Stanford in Palo Alto. Sure enough, the Ducks stunned the nation by spanking the Cardinal 53-30 on Saturday.  Before the contest, a lot of ‘experts’ claimed that Stanford’s power game was mightier than Oregon’s quickness. Most of those guys forgot about two little words: speed kills.

LaMichael James rushed for 146 yards against the Cardinal, but don't talk to him about the Heisman. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

The Ducks set the tone when linebacker Dewitt Stuckey intercepted an early Andrew Luck pass, (who may have tossed his ‘inevitable’ Heisman with it). Shortly thereafter, the Ducks were up 8-0. True, the Cardinal kept it close for three quarters, but they showed the weakness of their ball control style of play.

In order for that kind of offense to work, your team has to have a slight lead, so you can smash the running back at the defense for a few yards (or get another five with a play action pass) while taking a few minutes off the clock in the process.

Against Oregon the Cardinal found themselves in the position of having to play chase. The Ducks would zip down the field and score in 60 seconds or less, and Stanford was puffing and wheezing just to keep it a one-posession game.  Eventually they got worn out, and that’s when the roof caved in on their BCS title hopes.

Meanwhile, with this victory, the fourth-ranked Ducks are clearly back in the national championship hunt. A couple more dominoes have to fall, but now a January trip to New Orleans (as opposed to Pasadena) doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it did after the opening loss to LSU. That being said, don’t expect Oregon head coach Chip Kelly to spend his time lobbying for a higher ranking in the next three weeks.

“It doesn’t work that way,” said Kelly. “You all have your opinions and you’re going to formulate them based on what you see on the field and how the game is won. I don’t think anyone votes LSU as number one because Les Miles is standing on top of a soapbox saying so. I’ve never seen anybody get a ranking because the coach lobbied for it.”

Terrell Turner and the Oregon defense has been getting better every week. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

Nor should you place any bets on running back LaMichael James to talk up any possible Heisman Trophy honors. Some might argue that he got himself back in the race by rushing for 146 yards against Stanford. But his priorities are elsewhere.

“I don’t care about the Heisman at all,” said James. “I only care about winning games.”

And that’s how it should be when the stakes are now higher than ever for this season. If the Ducks lose one game from worrying about potential honors, then any arguments will become a very moot point. Remember, they haven’t even won the Pac-12 North yet.

“It’s wasted energy for us,” Kelly explained. “Our energy is solely focused on getting ready for a really good USC team. That’s the one thing we can control.”

Indeed, USC comes to town this weekend and will be fired up. Although the Trojans are currently atop the Pac-12 South standings, they can’t play in the inaugural conference championship game nor can they go to a bowl – they still have a little thing called ‘probation’ to contend with. So, for the Men of Troy, this is their BCS game. Knocking off the Ducks would send a message to the rest of the nation that they’re still a force to be reckoned with. While Stanford might’ve been the best overall conference foe Oregon has played this year, USC could be the most talented.

“They may have the fastest receivers we’ve faced,” said linebackers’ coach Don Pellum. “Matt Barkley is a really good quarterback. They’ve got a really talented line. Is it the best we’ve faced? It’s the best this week, because that’s who we’re playing.”

“They’re better than they were a year ago,” Kelly stated. “Barkley is playing at another level as a junior. They’ve also improved on the defensive side of the ball, and have a better understanding of what their coaching staff is doing.”

USC's Matt Barkley has become one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

Then again, USC having a solid squad is nothing new in the college football world.

“What I see is another talented USC team,” claimed Pellum.  “They’ve got hard-running backs, like Marc Tyler, that break tackles. They always have blocking tight ends, and they’ve got a great scheme. It’s been the same USC formula since I started my college career.”

By the same token, the Oregon defense should be up for the challenge. The defensive line, led by Terrell Turner, has delivered some key sacks in recent weeks. The secondary has finally started getting takeaways. And linebackers Stuckey and Michael Clay are playing at a much higher level than when the season started.

“We’ve gotten a little better as group every week,” Pellum explained. “One guy has performed well in one game a little better than another guy. But the nice thing is, overall, the group has been consistent. We’ve simply achieved this through hard work.”

It will be up to the defense to slow the Trojan attack down, which might be easier said than done.

“You’d better tackle the tailbacks,” said Pellum. “Historically, that’s the way it has always been. You’ve also got to pick and choose when to pressure them and you’ve got to find a way to limit explosion plays.”

So how does this one play out? Maybe it is appropriate that the opponent is from Los Angeles, because there will be plenty of drama between now and Saturday. Will James run for over 100 yards again? Can De’Anthony Thomas run wild against a stacked USC defense? Can the Kardashian family please go away? Whoops, wrong story.

Marc Tyler is the featured back in the USC attack. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

In the end, while the Trojans may have the weapons to hang with the Ducks for four quarters, I don’t think it’ll be enough to spoil the party (especially at Autzen, where the crowd will be even more amped than usual). Oregon will win a wild 52-35 shootout over the boys from Southern California.

Now onto some other quick items, starting with high school football. You have to tip your hat to Sheldon head football coach Lane Johnson. After years of serving as an assistant to his brother Marty, he has done an outstanding job of continuing the Irish’s winning ways this season. Last week, Sheldon ripped up Clackamas 50-0 in the first round of the 6A OSAA playoffs. It’s safe to say that Lincoln High will be a stiffer joust in the second round game on Friday. But win or lose, it’s clear Johnson has the program on the right track and we should be seeing them in the championship game.

Staying on prep sports, we’ll be ramping up our high school basketball coverage within the next three weeks, stay tuned as they say.  Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.

 

The Future Can Happen Sooner Than You Think…

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By Sam Finley, EDN

It’s amazing how one image can look worse than it is.  Take LaMichael James’ elbow injury during the Ducks’ 43-15 win against Cal.  The Oregon running back had to be carted off early in the fourth quarter after dislocating the ligament.  But until he came in after the game, the speculation was his college football career might be over.  Even James said he doesn’t want to look at any replays of what happened.

“I’ve seen it live,” joked LaMichael in a Tuesday media session. “I don’t need a picture or video to see it again, and I don’t ever want to.”

Kenjon Barner could be starting this Saturday. (Photo Credit: Rick Morgan)

James has reiterated that he will play again, and his arm is healing.

“It’s just swollen right now,” he said.  “Once the swelling goes down, I’ll be okay.”

Still, while he could play again as early as this Saturday, there is timetable for his return.

“I’lI know more when I speak to the (team) doctors,” James stated. “They’re going to make the right decision.  If I’m able to be back out there, they’ll give me the okay.  But if I’m not, then they’re going to give me the no.”

Should LaMichael James not be cleared for action this week, he believes the depth at running back will be enough to keep the Ducks moving at full speed.

“I think we’ll be fine,” he explained. “That’s why I’m not going to push my recovery and jeopardize my career here. We have some of the best running backs in the country.  Kenjon Barner is one of the best backs in the Pac-12.  De’ Anthony Thomas is a phenomenal player, and so is Tra Carson.  I’m really confident that those guys can get the job done.”

They might have to.  If anything can be proven from LaMichael’s ‘day-to-day’ status is that the future can happen sooner than you think.  Yes, James will likely play again this season, but suddenly next year’s plans could be implemented as early as the next game.

Kenjon Barner is probably going to be the starting running back in 2012 (since LMJ will likely turn pro at the end of this season). Now he might become the most experienced back on the field. Barner believes that everyone will need to raise their level of play if his best friend can’t go.

“Everybody has to step up,” he said on Thursday after the Cal game. “LaMichael is a huge part of the team as well as the running game. So if he can’t play, we’ll all have to pick our jobs up and pick up the slack.”

That would include the younger backs behind Barner. Freshman De’Anthony Thomas has shown definite flashes of brilliance, but now the Ducks may need him to grow up a little sooner.  The same can be said for Tra Carson.

Life in the world of football can be strange sometimes.  All the talk before the elbow injury was about how LaMichael James had regained his stride and might’ve gotten himself back into the Heisman Trophy race.  However, one play really can change everything.

Perhaps James comes back on Saturday.  Or he could be out a few weeks.

Keep some other things in mind, too.  It wasn’t long ago that Kenjon Barner was on the injured reserve list, and one wrong cutback or devastating hit could put him back there.  The same could happen to either De’Anthony or Tra.  You really can’t say what could happen until the ball is snapped.

That being said, what does this all mean for a critical game against Arizona State?  While I will be shocked if LaMichael James plays this Saturday, I won’t be surprised.  This is a very tough kid, and he may just get the green light.  But if he doesn’t, even though the Sun Devils have one of the best defenses in the Pac-12, I agree with his assessment that the running game will keep moving this weekend. Much like the injury he suffered last week, things really aren’t that bad.

Barner would be a starter on almost any other college team, and is not even really considered a backup at Oregon.

“We look at LaMichael as number one and Kenjon as 1a,” said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.

De'Anthony Thomas will be taking more handoffs if LaMichael James is out against ASU. (Photo Credit: Rick Morgan)

De’Anthony has proven he can make it happen as a running back or as a receiver.  The only thing that would change in LaMichael’s absence is that he’d be taking a few more handoffs than usual.  And if he does line up at wideout, it will mean that Kenjon or Tra will be in the backfield.

In other words, you can breathe a sigh of relief if you’re a Duck fan.  But since there are two potential scenarios out there, I have to give two separate predictions.  

In either case, the Oregon defense will have an opportunity to finally get a takeaway or two against a very talented, but mistake prone Arizona State offense.  On the flipside, and as stated earlier, ASU has a great defense and could give the Oregon offense a problem or two (LaMichael or no).

But in both situations, I see the Ducks coming out ahead. The only difference will be in the amount of scoring.  With that, here’s my prediction with LaMichael in the game:  Oregon 42, ASU 24.  Without him?  Let’s say Oregon 38, ASU 24.

In either case, it’s going to be a wild weekend, especially with ESPN GameDay in town. 
So enjoy every moment, no matter what happens.

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

Sam Finley has been the EDN sports editor since June 2011.  Send him your feedback or story ideas to: [email protected]

Defense: The Missing Ingredient For a Spot in the Sweet Sixteen

Many have heard the adage “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships” but is that the truth?  Though some question the validity of the statement, the Oregon Ducks have proven that for them, defense has been a crucial part in their 2013-14 late-season success.

The Ducks showcased both heart and skill in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament proving the seven months of hard work paid off.  However, none expected Oregon to take the route full of trials and tribulation in order to be a part of the Madness.

Obviously, every team wants to have a winning season and be a shoe-in for the tournament.  However, that is less commonly how it works.  Most teams face adversity at some point in the season.  The Ducks were one of these teams.

With 13 straight wins to open the pre-season, U of O looked exceptionally promising and expected to make an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

When the Ducks fell into a losing slump, the 17 Oregon players had to practice resiliency in order to keep their tournament seeding alive.

Oregon defense cut the opponents' average final score from 81 points at the beginning of the season to 71 points at the end of the season.

Oregon defense cut the opponents’ average final score from 81 points at the beginning of the season to 71 points at the end of the season.

The Ducks’ record reflected 13-0 but head coach Dana Altman was neither satisfied nor confident that pure offense would be enough.  He told his team they would have to start guarding opponents in order to continue getting the W.

Oregon was scoring enough points to win games.  Of their first 13 contests, 10 contained a final score of 80 points or more with four hitting 100+ points.

Although they started out strong, the Webfoots would swim circles part way through conference play.

The next eight out of 10 games resulted in losses for the Ducks.  The opposing team scored an average of 81 points versus the 76 points scored by Oregon.  This directly reflected the fact that six of the eight games were lost by a couple of possessions or less.

Now one must not be too quick to judge because many more statistics should be taken into consideration.  Whether playing at home or on the road, the personnel each team carries and the pace of the game can make a difference in points scored.  Remember, every team is different and will have different strengths and weaknesses when matching up.

Getting a "stop" on defense means preventing the other team from scoring. This can be a game-winning factor.

Getting a “stop” on defense means preventing the other team from scoring. This can be a game-winning factor.

While it is commendable to score an immense amount of points, games cannot be won by offense alone.  Likewise, the best way to beat a team is to keep them from scoring.

A team that loses 110-100 may be happier than a team that loses 60-50 because at least they scored 100 points.  By keeping a team from running up their points, it crushes their morale.

In the last 10 games the Ducks have played, they have held their opponents to an average of 71 points per game.  By limiting the total points scored, Oregon also increased their average total game points by three, to 79, thus winning nine games.  This helped solidify a seat for Oregon in the NCAA tournament.

Other keys to Oregon’s late season success would have to be Waverly Austin’s presence inside, the offensively-minded Joseph Young, Jason Calliste’s three point shooting and the Oregon native Mike Moser returning home.  Austin contributed to the Duck’s late-season wins such as the game against Arizona St. when he had five points and 10 boards. Joseph Young averaged 20 points per game while Jason Calliste’s average behind the arc shooting was a stunning 46 percent during the last half of the season.  Calliste was 5-9 against UCLA, 4-5 against Arizona and 3-4 against Oregon St. in three-point shooting.   Yet, one of the biggest boosts Oregon received this year was the return of Moser after playing for UCLA and UNVL. The 6’8″ forward was a force not to be reckoned with this year.

Good news for the Ducks — JaQuan Lyle has decided he will wear the Oregon name across his chest when suiting up for the 2014-15 season.  The 6-5, 215 lbs point guard from Huntington Prep will be a great asset to the Ducks because of his ability to handle the ball as well as being a coveted five-star shooting guard.  Hopefully Oregon can utilize this 41st ranked (out of ESPN’s top 100) Evansville, Ind. native on their journey to another NCAA appearance next year.

Help-side defense is a great example of the importance of a team having each others' back.

Help-side defense is a great example of the importance of a team having each others’ back.

In the first round against Brigham Young University, Oregon was able to hold the Cougars to just 68 points.  They accomplished this by out rebounding BYU 37-32 on top of poor FG shooting on BYU’s part.

In the second round against Wisconsin, the Ducks came out strong and lead at halftime 49-37.  The Badgers ruffled the Ducks’ defensive feathers in the second half, scoring 48 points.  Wisconsin converted 85 total points, which was above the opponent average in previous games.

Could this have been why Oregon lost?  There are many other factors that play into the final score of this season-ending game: scoring droughts, personal fouls and the multitude of Wisconsin fans in the stands to name a few.

It was no coincidence the Oregon jerseys said “Fighting Ducks” on the front.  Against the odds, honor was still brought to the University of Oregon through the never-ceasing effort by the men’s basketball team.  Not only did they fight throughout the season to make it to the top 32 teams, but they fought to the very end of their last game of the season.

Thank you, Ducks, for your dedication to getting the most out of your personnel – there is much of which to be proud.

Top photo by Steve Francis

 

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