Oregon Basketball - Page 18

Oregon A 5 Seed in Latest NCAA Tournament Projections

//

Ranked 16th in the nation and boasting a 16-2 record, the Oregon men’s basketball team have been projected as a five seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest NCAA tournament Bracketology. The Ducks have been rising recently in Lunardi’s weekly projected rankings. Last week Oregon was projected as a seven seed and they were projected as a ten seed the week before that.

Tony Woods and Oregon's front court depth are a big reason Oregon is in 1st place in the Pac-12 standings (Associated Press)
Tony Woods and Oregon’s front court depth are a big reason Oregon is in 1st place in the Pac-12 standings (AP Photo)

Lunardi’s projection comes with the Ducks on an absolute tear the past month. The Ducks are currently on a seven game winning streak, including a 5-0 record in conference. That 5-0 conference record is something Oregon has never done in school history.

That’s right in 110 years of Oregon basketball, Oregon has never started off conference play with five straight wins – not during the time of the Tall Firs or Oregon’s Elite 8 run in 2006.

Under Lunardi’s projection, the Ducks would be placed in the East region and would play 16-3 Bucknell. While the Ducks are in the East region, they would play their first two games in San Jose, Calif. Just over 450 miles away from Eugene, San Jose is the closest site for the Ducks in the tournament.

If the Ducks made it to the Sweet 16, they would have to travel across the country to play in Washington D.C., the main site for the East region. In the Sweet 16 Oregon could meet Duke, who at this point would be the number one overall seed in the tournament. Four Pac-12 teams in total are projected to make the tournament, with Arizona receiving a two seed. Arizona would receive the highest seed, and UCLA and Colorado also making the tournament.

Ducks should be favored in all of their games the rest of the season. In their 13 remaining games, Colorado is the only opponent projected to make the Big Dance. The Ducks will also face Washington twice, who was projected as one of the first four teams out of the tournament. Oregon will face Washington this Saturday at home, and then go on the road to face them February 13th. Oregon will take on Colorado February 7th at home.

While all except one of Oregon’s remaining opponents have winning records, it’s not out of the question for Oregon to run the table and finish the regular season with a 29-3 record. That would be the best record in Oregon men’s basketball history and would earn oregon a one or two seed in the tournament.

Overall, this would be a difficult bracket for the Ducks if they were ultimately placed in it. The Ducks would have to travel across the country to Washington D.C. If they got deep in the tournament, and would potentially have to face the overall number one seed Duke Blue Devils.

Here is the full ESPN bracket below:

NCAA Bracketology

Ducks Climb to No. 16 in AP Poll, No. 19 in Coaches

//

The University of Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team has continued its incredible 2012-13 season with a pair of clutch wins over the southern California schools this past weekend. The 16-2 (5-0) Ducks knocked off the 7-11 (2-3) USC Trojans 76-74 on Thursday night and responded with a 76-67 victory on Saturday night over the then ranked No. 24 UCLA Bruins.

Oregon big man Tony Woods splits two USC defenders (AP Photo)
Oregon big man Tony Woods splits two USC defenders (AP Photo)

Oregon has never started conference play 5-0. Just let that soak in a little bit… Even in Oregon’s elite 8 runs, they never started 5-0. This team is already doing incredible things. The Ducks are in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 standings.

In Monday’s released polls, the Ducks climbed five spots in the AP writer’s poll and jumped into the top-25 in the coaches’ poll after being one spot out of the rankings.

The only other team to be ranked in the AP poll besides the Ducks is the Arizona Wildcats, who the Ducks knocked off from the ranks of the unbeaten on January 10th and were ranked No. 4 in the country at the time. Arizona has dropped to No. 6 in both polls. UCLA comes in at what would normally be No. 28 if the polls extended past 25. No other Pac-12 teams received votes.

As for the coaches’ poll, Arizona stays at No. 6 while the Ducks sit at No. 19, three spots lower than the AP poll. The Bruins are at what would be No. 34.

It’s hard to ever truly take the coaches’ poll seriously, however. Many coaches have interns or graduate assistants fill out their poll and not a single one has time to fully do the research of teams that don’t affect them. The regional bias is laughable and borderline criminal.

Oregon also comes in at No. 22 in the RPI rankings – a series of computer algorithms that incorporate record and strength of schedule. UNLV, who the Ducks beat earlier in the season, is ranked one spot ahead of them at No. 21 in the RPI poll.

Top-25The 16-3 Cincinnati Bearcats, who are responsible for one of the Ducks’ two losses this season, are ranked No. 21 and No. 20 in the AP and coaches polls respectively. The Ducks won’t play Arizona or UCLA again in the regular season, making the end of their schedule relatively manageable.

The Ducks do have the Colorado Buffaloes on the schedule two more times. Colorado is unranked in both human polls, but come in at No. 20 – two spots ahead of Oregon – in the computer polls. No other Pac-12 team is in the RPI top-50.

Oregon’s toughest remaining opponents are Colorado, Washington and the rival Beavers in a rematch game on February 28th. Finishing in the top spot in the conference is a legitimate possibility. Head coach Dana Altman is getting the best out of his talented team.

Continue to check back here on EDN for complete ducks basketball coverage. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @EDN_Sports

Ducks Move Into First Place in Pac-12 With 68-65 Win Over Arizona State

//
Carlos Emory paced the Ducks with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Credit: Eric Evans GoDucks.com
Carlos Emory paced the Ducks with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Credit: Eric Evans GoDucks.com

It was dirty, it was grimy but the Ducks pulled out a close win against the Arizona State Sun Devils 68-65. With the win the Ducks improve to 14-2 on the season, and 3-0 in conference play. Oregon also moved into first place in the Pac-12 Conference standings with their victory over the Sun Devils. While the Ducks were predicted to finish seventh in the Pac-12 preseason poll, center Tony Woods expected to be first in the Pac-12 when conference play started.

“We had high hopes for the season,” said Woods. “We have a lot of talent and we feel like we deserve to be here.”

Oregon has started conference play strong and is now ranked No. 21 in the AP top 25 poll for the first time since the 2007-2008 season. Oregon also upped their home winning streak to 18, tying them for the sixth longest streak in the country. It came down to hitting free throws late for Oregon and the Ducks did that, hitting 14 of 15 in the game. The Ducks continued their trend of balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Forward Carlos Emory led the Ducks with 14 points and 8 rebounds.

“We found a way to win. In a 31 game schedule you’re going to have a couple of those where you just have to find a way.” Head coach Dana Altman said on the sloppy win. “I’m very pleased we stepped up and made free throws.”

After the Ducks started out hot early, shooting 67 percent from the field, the score was tied up 9-9. Then Damyean Dotson scored 10 straight points as the Ducks pushed into halftime up 32-28.Through halftime the Ducks shot 37 percent from field. Emory and Dotson combined 8-12, while the rest of team went 4-20.

Oregon's Carlos Emory drives with the basketball against Arizona State (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Oregon’s Carlos Emory drives with the basketball against Arizona State (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

With 2:38 left in the game, Arsalan Kazemi put the Ducks up two 59-57 with a tip slam. That play was the difference in the game, according to Altman. After a three pointer by Carrick Felix put the Sun Devils up one, the Ducks took the lead for good on a Tony Woods dunk. Oregon would clinch the game with seven free throws. Altman said he likes Oregon’s offensive balance, which features 5 players who score in double figures.

“I like that we have plenty of guys who can score so that if someone is having an off night, someone else can step in.”

The Ducks will travel for their first road trip of the conference season to play the LA schools. Oregon will play the 7-10 USC Trojans on Thursday and the 14-3 UCLA Bruins Saturday. The Bruins are undefeated in conference play and are currently riding a nine game winning streak.

Comment below on how you think the Ducks will do with their new No. 21 ranking in the polls. Make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Zone Read AM: Volleyball gets fifth seed, Embree out at Colorado

Oregon’s volleyball team earned the fifth overall seed in the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament and will open postseason play this Friday against Northern Colorado at Matthew Knight Arena. Both Friday’s game and the Ducks second-round game on Saturday (should they beat Northern Colorado) will be free to students.

***

Colorado has fired head football coach Jon Embree after the Buffs 1-11 season.  Embree went 4-21 in his only two seasons at Colorado.

***

Oregon basketball took a big step forward during the Thanksgiving break, upsetting No. 18 UNLV.  The Ducks just missed this week’s Top 25 but did receive a few votes.

***

After an impressive performance in the Civil War senior outside hitter Katherine Fischer took home the Pac-12 Player of the Week award, the Ducks sixth winner of the season.

Oregon basketball steamrolls Vanderbilt 74-48 in Arsalan Kazemi’s debut

It was close for about ten minutes, and then it simply wasn’t.

With the Ducks leading 17-14 halfway through the first half, Damyean Dotson hit a three pointer that sparked what turned out to be a highlight filled 24-6 run to end the half. Included in the run were dunks from Dotson, Emory and Arsalan Kazemi, who made his debut for Oregon tonight. Jonathan Loyd hit a three from well beyond NBA range as time expired in the first half to bring the 9,137 in attendance to their feet.

“I think the crowd really sparked us today,” said senior EJ Singler, who finished with a game-high 22 points on 5-of-13 shooting. “We got a lot of energy from the students and the fans and we just took that and kind of ran with it.”

The Ducks shot 50 percent in the first half and held the Commodores to just 27 percent shooting. Even more impressively, the Ducks limited Vanderbilt’s damage from three point land, holding the talented outside shooting team to just two makes from beyond the arc in the first half and just 4-of-21 from range for the game.

As impressive as their first half numbers were, Oregon wasn’t able to replicate the effort in the second half. While the Ducks moved the ball extremely well in the first twenty minutes and had 12 assists at the break, they had only four helpers in the second half and saw their shooting percentage plummet to less than 40 percent.

“Offensively, we just weren’t as sharp in the second half as we were in the first half,”  said Dana Altman.

In his first game since being cleared to play by the NCAA, Kazemi showed exactly how much of an impact he could have on the boards, leading Oregon with seven rebounds including two offensive rebounds.  The senior from Iran finished with a quiet five points in his first game action since last year, but his rebounding presence didn’t go unnoticed.

Turning Point. The Ducks 24-6 run at the end of the first half effectively sealed the game and dunks on three straight possessions — including a high flying alley oop from Jonathan Loyd to Carlos Emory — got the crowd going, but the Ducks’ slow start to the second half left the door ajar. But less than five minutes into the second half, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings was ejected, leaving a underclassmen-heavy team already down by close to 20 without a head coach.

On the horizon. The Ducks host Jacksonville State on Nov. 19 before traveling to Las Vegas for probably the Ducks’ toughest out-of-conference matchup of the season as the Ducks play UNLV in the Global Sport Classic. Oregon will expect to see increased minutes for Kazemi who is continuing to recover from a groin injury suffered early in his time in Eugene.

 

Oregon basketball schedule released; Ducks face tough early tests

The Oregon men’s basketball team released their 2012-13 schedule Tuesday, headlined by an early nonconference schedule filled with NCAA Tournament-caliber teams set to challenge the Ducks in Dana Altman’s third year as head coach.

Disappointment In L.A. Reminds Us Where We’ve Come

///

Alex Shoemaker, Sports Editor

On Thursday night the 22-9 (13-5) Oregon men’s basketball team fell 63-62 to an inferior Colorado Buffaloes squad who limped its way into the Pac-12 Tournament losing three of their last by four games in blowouts.

The loss, for all intents and purposes, crushed any chance of Oregon’s NCAA Tournament hopes, leaving them to the verdict of a panel of voters who have likely seen less than a game’s worth of Ducks ‘ basketball all season long.

I’m not bashing the system; there’s no way to expect the tournament committee to watch every game of all 300+ D1 college basketball teams. With a poor strength of schedule, the Pac-12 being one of the worst major conferences in college basketball, only a few schools are likely to make it into the NCAA Tournament.

With this loss though, disappointment should not be the feeling that Ducks fans have. Let’s look back at how we got here…

The common belief is that coaches get three seasons to prove their merit. We’ve seen it before in programs across the country from football to basketball. Winning fixes everything.

Ernie Kent coached the Ducks for 13 seasons, amassing 235 wins (a school record) during his tenure. (Photo credit: Jeff Ross/Getty Images)

With the firing of Ernie Kent, Oregon alumni and coach for 13 seasons, most Ducks fans figured that former Oregon Athletic Director Mike Bellotti and the rest of the University of Oregon athletic department had some kind of plan in place for Kent’s eventual successor; that was not the case.

Tom Izzo of Michigan State and Brad Stevens of Butler were rumored as Kent’s successor. Could it really be that the Ducks could land a big-name coach? Could Oregon be a university giant the likes of Texas or Ohio State who dominate at both basketball and football?

As it is well known now, the Ducks did not land a nationally recognized coach. We got the guy from the University of Creighton who in his 16 seasons as head basketball coach had the Bluejays, who did not miss a post-season tournament in each of the last 13 seasons.

The name sounded familiar, but I had no idea who this Altman guy was. ESPN had me believing that this program was on the verge of a monumental hiring. Little did I know, that’s exactly what they did in hiring Altman.

Most people, myself included, have moved on from the Kent era and trust completely that Altman is the man to lead the program back into post-season relevance.

In his first season as head coach, the change in the program was felt immediately. The team, depleted from transfers, battled throughout their rebuilding season winning games on pure will.

With a losing record, Oregon somehow snuck a spot into CBI (College Basketball Invitational) emerging as champions with three straight wins over Weber State, Duquense and Boise State before defeating Altman’s former team in Creighton in a best-of-three finals matchup.

Only a season as head coach and Altman had nearly every Oregon fan believing in this program’s revival.

In season two of the Altman era, starting the season at just 11-5 (2-2) with all five of their losses coming by double digits, I did not believe that this team had any chance of making a run into the NCAA tournament. I mean, who in their right mind really believed this team could?

Brown played in just two games for the Ducks, averaging 6.0 points per game. (Photo credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

With everything stacked against them from their best player, Jabari Brown, and heralded savior of the program transferring just two games into his collegiate career, it looked like another year of mediocrity for Ducks basketball.

It took one of the strongest finishes in Oregon basketball history to change that, winning six of their final seven games entering the Pac-12 tournament. Getting to the NIT is in no way a disappointment. For the fans, this might actually be a best-case scenario.  

From the CBI a season ago and the NIT this season, signs of continued improvement are being shown. Remember, this is just year two into a completely new system.

Oregon now has the potential to host games that fans can go down the road to see with the potential for national recognition if they happen to make a run and reach the final four or deeper.

Earning multiple game experience will pay greater dividends than a first round knockout in a more prestigious tournament. With this team still in the rebuilding stages, experience is the best thing for long-term success.

Altman has a combined record of 43-27 as Oregon's head basketball coach, a much higher winning percentage than Kent. (Photo credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The next step is recruiting, which Altman is reportedly working on this weekend by travelling to recruits homes.

Altman has shown he can bring in big name recruits (Brown); the next step is to actually keep them here for more than two games. This postseason and offseason could be another transition from middle of the pack to top consistent competition for the conference championship.

With Altman, anything is possible. Let us hope the rumors of him considering a return back to Nebraska as just that, rumors. Haven’t we had enough scares these past two months of coaches leaving us already?

Garrett Sim’s experience, sharpshooting has Oregon atop the Pac-12 standings

In Garrett Sim’s four years with the men’s basketball program, few of the previous three teams would have been able to pull off what the Ducks did against UCLA this past weekend.

Staring at a 13-point halftime deficit after shooting less than 23 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, Oregon opened the second half driven with a sense of urgency that was nonexistent an hour earlier.

After a pair of Tony Woods free throws, Sim scored seven points in 49 seconds on back-to-back threes, including the first four-point play of his collegiate career. The lead was cut to four, and UCLA coach Ben Howland demanded a timeout.

“It was a big shot,” head coach Dana Altman said. “We needed it at that point, and it really got the crowd energized and our players believing that we were coming back and were gonna get it done.”

Sim’s hot hand sparked a 15-2 Oregon run to open the second half, and the rest was history as Oregon closed out a dramatic 75-68 comeback victory.

“Those weren’t easy shots,” added junior forward E.J. Singler. “Those were great shots.”

Sim, a Portland native and 2008 Sunset High School graduate, hasn’t shied away from those big moments this season, seeing only a bigger opportunity to take this team to a place its never been during his tenure.

When Oregon came out flat against a USC team that remains winless in the Pac-12 last Thursday, it was Sim who refused to let what should have been a guaranteed victory slip away.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound guard again found his rhythm again in the second half, connecting on 5-of-6 three-pointers and making four of Oregon’s six free throws in the final 1:40 to finish with a team-high 20 points.

Sim says he doesn’t necessarily hunt down open three-point looks, but they’ve certainly come in abundance for the senior guard who’s averaging a career-best 12.6 points per game this season.

“Any time I get an open three,” Sim said. “I’m gonna shoot it with confidence.”

He’s gone back to the confidence factor time and again this year, saying it’s helped him play more relaxed than seasons past. Considering Sim’s nearly 13 percent increase in three-point shooting this season, to say he’s playing with more confidence would be a bit of an understatement.

Having played in 122 games in his career with 87 starts along the way, Sim is Oregon’s active career leader in almost every single category other than rebounding and free-throw shooting, both of which belong to Singler.

He’s well on his way to breaking last year’s career-best mark of 52 made three pointers, and he could potentially do so in 50 less attempts. Sim has made 47.6 percent of his shots from long range this season (40-of-84), which trails only Cal’s Justin Cobbs (53.8) and Arizona’s Brendon Lavender (52.1) for the best mark in the Pac-12.  

Not surprisingly, he’s been as solid as they come from the free-throw line, too, converting on 85.5 percent of his trips to the charity stripe, good enough for the fourth-best clip in the conference.

Shooting has always been one of Sim’s biggest assets — he averaged 22.9 points and 8.8 assists as a high school senior — but it’s the career experience that’s starting to show through down the stretch.

What’s the biggest difference for Oregon compared to the past few seasons?

“Senior guards,” Altman says without hesitation. “Devoe (Joseph) has been there, Garrett’s been there. The free-throw shooting is tremendously important … We never allowed (UCLA) to close the gap.”

Sim will make his 21st consecutive start when the Ducks host the Beavers Sunday afternoon for a 3:30 p.m. contest, the seventh Civil War appearance of his career. As the only remaining member of that coveted 2008 recruiting class, Sim believes the years of struggle for the Oregon men’s basketball program may have finally turned a corner, if only for a season.

“We want to make the tournament,” fellow senior Jeremy Jacob said, “We want to get wins.”

Closing games out will continue to be a key point of emphasis as well. The Ducks have done just that in winning four straight Pac-12 games for the first time since the 2006-7 season, and with a win over Oregon State on Sunday, they’ll be 11 games above .500 and remain in a tie for first with Cal in the conference standings.

“(This group has) a passion and eagerness to win,” Sim said. “We’ve got a lot of seniors and experienced guys. For myself, since I’ve been here we haven’t closed out games very well. I guess we’re kind of tired of that, and we want to win.”

For the first time in years, it seems all the pieces are in place for Sim and his teammates to pull off something special.

Where Did The Week Go…

///

— Ryan Beltram, EDN

Well now that football season’s over (college anyway) now what? As I write this I just watched the men’s basketball team beat Arizona. The Ducks are off to a solid start this season with a 4-2 Pac-12 record and 13-5 overall. They got an impressive win over Stanford earlier this season and this win today is equally nice.

But there just isn’t the same excitement for basketball as there is for the football team. Obviously the main reason for that is winning. When a team plays in two Rose Bowls and a National Championship you tend to get a little more attention. The basketball team hasn’t been relevant since teams featuring the likes of Fred Jones, Luke Jackson and Aaron Brooks.

Ducks Basketball. Who's Excited!

I guess it’s asking too much to have both the football and basketball teams be dominant at the same time. When does that ever happen? Alabama and LSU are great in football but you never hear much from their basketball teams. On the flip side, Duke and North Carolina have been two of the more dominant basketball programs for the last 25 years. When was the last time either of those schools did anything in football?

The only exceptions I can think of in the last decade to have great success in the top two college sports was Florida and Ohio State. Florida has two National Championships in basketball and football in the last decade while Ohio State has at least competed in the title game in each sport and of course beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl two years ago.

College programs are never always great. Coaches leave, recruiting high-level talent dips and occasionally somebody gives a high school star keys to a convertible for a weekend when they weren’t supposed too. So while the Oregon basketball team might not be as great as the football team, at least they’re playing well at the moment. Who knows, maybe they’ll make the tournament in March and make some noise.

The Golden Globes are Back

Award season has officially begun and the most enjoyable of all of them, the Golden Globes, airs on Sunday. It’s the most entertaining award show because you get to see movie stars get plastered during the event. Unlike the Oscars where it feels stuffy and pretentious, the Globes is where everyone decides, we’re not going to let this open bar go to waste.

Back for a second year in a row is Ricky Gervais, the comedian who doesn’t care who he offends. Last year’s telecast was memorable not only because of all the abuse celebrities suffered at the hands of the comedian, but also because of the aftermath that followed. Two days after it aired I thought NBC would never allow Gervais near an award show again. Although had I seen The Tourist before seeing last year’s award show, I would have gotten off my couch and cheered Gervais for calling out such an egregious pick for best film.

But NBC knows good television when it sees it and Gervais is back for round two. Most of his jokes will obviously involve the people nominated. Here are some of the roads I believe he will go down during the show:

  1. Jonah Hill’s weight.
  2. Christopher Plummer’s age.
  3. The number of times Michael Fassbender appears naked in Shame.
  4. An off color joke about race related to The Help.
  5. A joke involving Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.
  6. A joke involving Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen (or both).
  7. How convincingly Glenn Close resembles a man in Albert Nobbs.
  8. An inappropriate joke about Carnage director Roman Polanski.
  9. Ask why Matt LeBlanc was nominated for something when everyone thought he was dead or missing.
  10. Another joke about Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore or Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen (or both).

Normally I don’t enjoy watching awkward and uncomfortable situations, but Gervais is the master at it. Here’s hoping we get another memorable Golden Globes.

Netflix Instant Pick: Point Blank

Point Blank sounds like the title of a bad American action thriller that went straight to DVD. Luckily, the title is the only negative thing to say about this exhilarating French thriller that came out in 2010 and is now available on Netflix instant.

Samuel Pierret is a nurse supporting his very pregnant wife. One day while at work, he inadvertently interrupts a man attempting to kill a patient who was in a motorcycle accident the night before. After being questioned by police and going home, Pierret is attacked in his apartment and his wife is taken. He receives a call from someone who tells him he must remove the patient from the hospital or his wife will die.

What follows is a chase through the subways and streets of Paris, dead bodies piling up and both cops and criminals tracking both Pierret and the patient — a thief. Pierret is the kind of character we like in action movies; an ordinary guy thrust into a dangerous situation. Gilles Lellouche plays the main character and he’s believable as the everyman just trying to bring his wife home. You believe in the decisions he makes and you root for him.

Point Blank has the look and style of a Bourne film and at 84 minutes, doesn’t waste time with unnecessary character developments. Some of the twists you’ll see coming but in the end this is an entertaining thriller that will probably be remade in America in a couple of years.

University Showcases Dorothea Lange’s Work

This week the University of Oregon has presented an Oregon Historical Commission photo exhibit featuring the work of Dorothea Lange, photographer with the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. Showcased in the Knight Law Center, Lange’s iconic photos can be seen for free.

After taking a digital arts and media class in college, I became aware of Dorothea Lange and the incredible work she did during a sad time in American history. Lange’s photographs humanized the consequences of the Great Depression. Her ability to simply capture faces in the midst of adversity and pain was her strength and signature.

This exhibit particularly focuses on the photographs she took in the state of Oregon in 1939. Photos on display include migrant and lumber workers, small towns and photos of herself and her family. This exhibit will be available for viewing throughout January and February and is strongly recommended.

A Very ‘Rosey’ Victory

////

— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

A lot has happened in 95 years. No, I’m not going to give you a big dissertation on what’s occurred since Woodrow Wilson was president. (You can go to the History Channel for that one).   But 1917 was the last time Oregon won the Rose Bowl. That is, until Monday.

For once, the Ducks did more than show up for a big game, defeating Wisconsin 45-38 in Pasadena. As a result, Oregon can discard some critiques about their football team.

Chip Kelly can officially call himself a big-time coach now. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

They can’t win a BCS Bowl? Just did it. Same goes for beating a ranked non-conference opponent away from Autzen Stadium.

All that talk about how Chip Kelly was just an offensive gimmick coach? By winning this Rose Bowl, that perception will change things dramatically. You can also officially say Oregon is an elite college football program without a scoff here and there. There is more to this squad than a multiple choice of fancy uniforms.

However, this victory was not only crucial for validating the present. It was important for assuring an even brighter future. With USC primed to wrestle back the Pac-12 next season, it would’ve been a lot tougher to sell Oregon to potential five-star recruits without winning a game the Trojans used to take regularly.

Now you can expect that for the next few years, the Ducks and SC will battle for conference supremacy. Those games will be worth the price of admission.

De'Anthony Thomas went 91 yards untouched for a score in the Rose Bowl. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

But that’s a conversation for another day. Right now, let’s look at some of the great stories that came out of a milestone moment.  Before we get to any of the great plays, I think you have to tip your hat to some of the fine assistant coaches like Nick Aliotti, Gary Campbell, Steve Greatwood, and Don Pellum.

These guys have been involved with the program since Rich Brooks was head coach and can remember the days when Oregon fans would be happy to get to any bowl.  With their hard work, they set the foundation that made the program what it is today. Without what these guys put together, you never would’ve seen someone like De’Anthony Thomas set foot in Eugene.

Speaking of De’Anthony, he did a lot on only two carries, didn’t he? A 91-yard run for a touchdown in the first half (which set a new Rose Bowl record) followed up with a 64-yard dash early in the third quarter.  I thought he might be the X-factor due to his athleticism, and the Badgers simply couldn’t match his speed when tested.

Lavasier Tuinei saved his best game for last as the Rose Bowl Offensive MVP. (Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

In fact, his spectacular day made LaMichael James’ 159-yard performance seem bland in comparison.  If this was the last time he put on a Duck uniform, then he’s going out in style.

Ditto for Lavasier Tuinei.  The senior wideout has been criticized for not playing up to his full potential.  Yet he earned the offensive MVP honors with clutch catch after clutch catch, including two touchdowns. Having talked to him a couple of times, I’ve found him to be a decent fellow and I always like good things to happen to good people.

Of course, Tuinei can’t do that if quarterback Darron Thomas hadn’t played with great poise during the contest. True, he threw a pick and fumbled a ball that resulted in six points for the Badgers.  But Thomas shrugged off his miscues and managed the game well enough to win.  You remember how people were calling for Bryan Bennett earlier this year? They won’t be doing that going into 2012.

By the same token, kudos have to go to the Oregon defense. Yes, they gave up a lot of yards, particularly to Montee Ball. However, if you watched closely, it was clear that the Ducks weren’t afraid of the big running back or their super-sized offensive line. Look at the numerous times they’d answer one of Ball’s 10-yard bursts by knocking him on his keister on the next down. In the end, they made enough plays to contain a high-powered offense.

Terrance Mitchell and the Oregon defense made plays when needed in Pasadena. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Honestly, I wasn’t surprised by how they performed, based on how they grew as the season progressed.  Look at the freshman cornerback Terrance Mitchell.  At the start of the year, he had to endure a trial-by-fire against LSU when he started in place of (no-longer-on-the-team) Cliff Harris. Could you have envisioned then that he’d be the one who forced Jared Abbrederis to fumble late in the game?

Or how about linebacker Kiko Alonso? He’s been a troubled young man the past couple of years, and he started the year suspended. Without rehashing any incidents, it appears Alonso has put his transgressions behind him and he played out of his mind against Wisconsin.  Where would they have been without his interception? That play was just one of many reasons why he was named the defensive MVP.

There are so many things you can talk about why the Ducks were able to pull out this amazing win. But you don’t have all day to read them, and I don’t have all day to write them. I will simply offer a couple more items before moving on.

Kiko Alonso came up with a critical interception against the Badgers. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

First, enjoy this victory, Duck fans. It took a long time to get to this point and you’ve endured many years of heartache in similar situations.

Second, this win is not the end of a journey. It is the beginning of another quest of even greater achievements.  Does this mean Oregon will win the Pac-12 every year from here on out?  No.  As stated earlier, USC is going to win a couple here and there, and schools like Washington will be formidable if they can get a defense.

But you won’t see the drop off that followed Joey Harrington’s departure in 2001. These guys will be in the hunt for BCS Bowls for a long time to come. Right now, I can’t wait for spring football to arrive.

Since it will take awhile before football rolls around again, let’s talk a little Oregon men’s basketball before I wrap this one up.  As I’ve said many times, it’s hard to get a read on how good these guys can be this season.

The Ducks started off the Pac-12 slate in fine fashion by spanking Washington State 92-75 in Spokane last Thursday. Unfortunately, they ran into a buzz saw in Seattle, losing 76-60 to Washington on Saturday.

There have been reasons for optimism with solid play from Devoe Joseph, E.J. Singler, Olu Ashalou, and Brett Kingma. What the Ducks have to do now is get a little more consistent and toughen up on defense.  If they can do that, they might have as good a chance to win the conference as Cal, Oregon State, or UW.  There is no front-runner in the Pac-12 at the moment, and one who cleans up their mistakes the quickest will likely take the title.  Should be fun to watch, and we’ll know a lot more about Oregon after they play Stanford and Cal this week.

With that in mind, I’m tired after keeping up with all the stuff that has happened recently. You’ll hear from me in a couple of days, as I begin to ramp up the college and prep basketball coverage.  I should also note that you will hear me talk about the Oregon women’s basketball team in the next column, and why they’ll need Amanda Johnson and Nia Jackson healthy to have any chance of finishing with a winning record this year.

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