Wisconsin Badgers

Web Extra: UO Falls in NCAA Tournament

OMAHA, Neb.–Exactly a year to the day, No. 8 Oregon faced off against No. 1 Wisconsin in the Round of 32 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. While the Ducks kept it close to the very end, they couldn’t pull out the win at CenturyLink Center as they fell 72-65.

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Duck Softball Team Holds off Celebrating its Advancement to the NCAA Super Regionals

The Oregon Ducks’ softball team took their next step in the playoffs last Sunday afternoon, by defeating the Wisconsin Badgers to wrap up the Oregon-hosted regional. The next step is to the NCAA Super Regionals, but judging by their collective calm and cool body language, you would’ve never guessed it.  They just completed a three-game sweep of the Eugene Regional and outscored their opponents by a combined score of 24-2 over the weekend.  Yet, they didn’t celebrate — and for good reason.

Ducks head coach Mike White is trying to make sure his team stays focused on the mission.

Ducks head coach Mike White is trying to make sure his team stays focused heading into the Super Regionals against Minnesota.

What they know is they are in the very same situation as last year, after getting through the Eugene Regional relatively easily.  Their No. 3 tournament seed gave them the opportunity to host a Super Regional against the No. 14-seed Nebraska Cornhuskers, a team that many considered underdogs against the Ducks.

But it didn’t matter; the Ducks were unable to match Nebraska’s intensity and lost in two out of three games to the Cornhuskers, trailing in all but one inning.

It’s been almost a year since their heartbreaking loss in the Super Regionals, but the Ducks haven’t forgotten.  As they prepare for this weekend’s Super Regionals against the Minnesota Gophers, the Ducks are trying to avoid letting outside voices distract the team from their ultimate goal: winning the College Softball World Series.

“Hopefully we don’t listen to the talk because last year with Nebraska coming in, everyone was saying ‘I’m booking my tickets, I’m doing this’ and I think sometimes you let all of that get to you,” White said on Sunday.  “When we were named N0. 1, it didn’t change [our approach], now we’ve got through the regional, it’s not going to change.  Hopefully we don’t listen to the outside influences and we focus on the mission … to be in the final eight and then the last [team] standing.” Left fielder Janie Takeda, who received Regional MVP honors by batting .545 with 5 RBIs over the weekend, had an interesting take on the Ducks’ current status as they head into the Super Regionals.

Janie Takeda says the Ducks are still a team "on the rise."

Janie Takeda says the Ducks are still a team “on the rise.”

“This year, I feel like we’re still on the rise.”

Even though your team is currently ranked No. 1 in the country and the “team to beat” in the NCAA Softball Tournament? “Our standard is so high,” Takeda said.  “We all know what we’re capable of.  Until one through nine is reaching their high potential, we’re always getting better.”

If the rest of the team shares Takeda’s belief, the sky is the limit for the Ducks.  Although they are hungry and not even close to satisfied in their current position, there was still a sense of achievement among players. “There’s a high level of satisfaction,” Karissa Hovinga said after earning the win in the circle, Sunday. “Wisconsin’s a good team, and you can’t take anyone lightly.”

It’s safe to say the Ducks players and coaches will not be taking any team lightly after last season’s disappointing ending to Nebraska.  Going into Super Regionals as the top-ranked team in the tournament is uncharted territory for the Ducks, but they don’t seem to care.  It’s “OKC or Bust” for this year’s team.  And they plan to go there and win their last game.

Top Photo by Will Denner

Oregon Ducks on the Diamond: Softball Hosting Super Regional, Baseball Returning to Form

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Both the Oregon Ducks Softball and Baseball teams had good weekends on the diamond. We’ll start with the Oregon Softball team who will be returning to the Super Regional Round of the NCAA Softball Tournament again in 2014 following a three game sweep of the Regional Round this past weekend beating Utah Valley on Friday and Wisconsin twice on Saturday and Sunday. Oregon pitching in the series was stellar, as was hitting. In the Sunday ‘Championship’ Round Oregon was off to a great start following a rain delay before the game even started as Courtney Ceo who was first to bat for the Ducks swung at the first pitch for a hit. Following her Janie Takeda hit a home run and the Oregon Ducks were off to a 2-0 lead en route to a 6-0 shutout of Wisconsin.

Oregon Softball takes on Wisconsin in the Eugene Regional at Howe Field. May 17th, 2014/KPNWSports
Oregon Softball takes on Wisconsin in the Eugene Regional at Howe Field. May 17th, 2014/KPNWSports

In the first game of the weekend Oregon took care of Utah Valley 12-1 before taking care of Wisconsin on Saturday 6-1 and 6-0 in the final game on Sunday. Attention now shifts to another Big 10 Team in Minnesota, ranked 16th in the country at the time of this post. More on the best of three series shortly, but first the Oregon Baseball team also had a good weekend.

Earlier this season, the Oregon Ducks Baseball team was on a nine game winning streak just as some of the wheels began to fall off in losing a Starting Pitcher, Matt Krook, to season ending Tommy John Surgery. Since then it has been up and down for George Horton’s team until this week.

The team has put together a four game winning streak taking care of business and having solid pitching and timely hitting against Pacific and UCLA on the road. Oregon knocked around Pacific in what seemed like batting practice 14-8 last Tuesday before turning their sights south to visit UCLA over the weekend. On Friday defense was key to the win.

PK Park, Home of the Oregon Ducks Baseball Team//KPNWSprts
PK Park, Home of the Oregon Ducks Baseball Team//KPNWSprts

Oregon Starting Pitcher Tommy Thorpe battled with UCLA until the Oregon Ducks were able to break through for two runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Tyler Baumgartner had a two out RBI single to get it started as the Ducks went on for a 2-1 win in the opener. Saturday saw something special on the mound.

Oregon Starter Jeff Gold, who started the season 9-0(he picked up his first loss last weekend) earned the win and is now tied with former Oregon Ducks Pitcher Alex Keudell for most victories in an Oregon uniform. He will have the chance to take over sole possession of the category this weekend at home against California.

Sunday saw extra innings as the Oregon Ducks went on for the Series sweep of the Bruins and a hard earned 5-4 eleven inning win. It was their first Pac-12 road sweep of the season. Oregon rallied from a 4-1 deficit to remain in a third place tie with Arizona State in the Conference standings. Mitchell Tolman drove in the game winning run against the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year(from last season), David Berg. The Oregon Ducks Bullpen was tested and passed, throwing 8 2/3 innings of shutout baseball to help get the team to the win.

Both teams are at home this weekend as the Oregon Softball team looks to win two of three against Minnesota to punch a ticket to Oklahoma City and the NCAA Softball Championship Round. The games are of more importance and will be aired on ESPN this weekend. The Best of Three Series will start on Saturday(7pm PT, ESPN2). Game 2 is Sunday(2pm PT, ESPN) and Game 3, if necessary is at 5pm PT,(ESPN2)

The Oregon Baseball team will entertain Oregon State for one game on Tuesday(7pm PT, Cal at PK Park for a three game series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday all slated for 7pm PT start times. All four games will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.

For a different take on the Oregon Ducks, visit AutzenZoo.com

College Football Nation: Wildcat Union and Chip Kelly Surprises Us All

Things just got taken up a notch as football players attending Northwestern University were approved to move forward with their efforts to unionize.  I am glad we have had some amazing basketball to get my mind off that mess going on.  Besides the usual arrests and the Northwestern union being approved (pending appeal from the University administration), it has been a slow week.

Nonetheless, I offer:

1)  The NLRB has  ruled in favor of letting Northwestern players unionize.  Only up North would players think about forming a union to try to get a piece of the pie.  Kain Colter is the main player at Northwestern leading the charge and says he is doing it just to help protect the athletes and make sure they are taken care of … not a way for them to get paid.  Yeah, right.  We all know exactly what the union is for.

I think this should be an eye opener for the NCAA to rethink how they do things and how the players are “compensated” for their participation.  I do not think it should lead to anything serious, because it would destroy every school that is not a football powerhouse.

Northwestern’s unionizing was done by the football players, but everyone needs to realize it will stretch out to not just football players but all the way across to women’s golf and tennis players, also.  Imagine a small school like Toledo now having to “compensate” not only their football players but also their women’s soccer team.  It is going to break the bank and destroy college athletics.

People need to remember that thanks to Title IX, anything you do for men’s sports, you have to do for women’s sports.  Say you start paying the football players an extra $20,000/year, then you better believe the women’s teams are going to get it.  Most schools will not be able to afford that and athletic programs will crumble in the end.

The NCAA should step in now and just help raise the standard scholarship amount.  It will take time for the Northwestern union to be finalized because it will bounce back and forth throughout the court system, but during that time, the NCAA needs rethink its process before it all blows up in its face.

2)  On a side note, Chip Kelly has made some interesting moves this past week.  His team let go of its best wide receiver and signed a former USC QB who was on the “outs” in the NFL.  Both interesting moves, indeed — sign a QB you don’t need, cut a receiver you do need.  I’m curious about Chip’s mindset for those moves.  There are rumors of why it has been done but I would like to think that Chip just wants to win with a drama-free team as far as letting the star wide receiver go.  As for the QB move … you got me!?!?  No stars on the team should be thinking they are bigger than the team itself.  

Chip had a great Year 1 in the NFL and looks to build upon that.  He needs guys who are willing to go with the flow and not worry about “getting the ball” or “signing that next big check”!  I look forward to Year 2 and will be curious as to who he drafts out of the college ranks to help the Eagles out this season.  If De’Anthony Thomas is available to him come draft day, will he take him?  Love the way Chip runs things!

3)  After Year 1 coaching at Wisconsin for Gary Anderson, they are giving him a raise and an extension.  Guess they like what they see and want to keep him around a little while longer.  I agree with this move for Wisconsin for multiple reasons:

First, Coach Anderson won at Utah State … have you ever been there or even heard of that school until he led them to it’s first 10-win season?  Second, the guy is a former Urban Meyer assistant and that means he knows how to recruit and what it takes to compete at a top level.  Plus he will be able to throw a few curve balls at the unstoppable Ohio State Buckeyes anytime they play.

Third, he knows how to get the most out of his players.  He did it at Utah State and was able to get to an 11-win season.  At Wisconsin, they are not known for recruiting top athletes all of the time.  Look for him to turn any recruit who walks through that door into a star.  Lastly, the guy is just a good guy!  He cares about his players and will go above and beyond for them.  It’s always good to have a coach that not only views his players as players, but also sons.  I expect Wisconsin to be a constant B1G contender every year with him at the helm.  Good move, Badgers, for signing him on for a longer term!

So a slow week in the world of college football.  We still have the Final Four to entertain us for another week.  I want to give a shout out to the Oregon men’s basketball team.  They had a great season and finished strong.  Great game vs Wisconsin in the tournament.  They had Wisconsin on the ropes and almost pulled off the upset.  I expect great things out of Oregon the hardwood next year.

Until next week, college football fans!

NATIONAL NEWS:

1. Notre Dame’s new QB

2. Another Alabama victory

3. Texas A&M suspension

4. Georgia Tech improving?

5. UMASS out of MAC

 

 

Television Alternatives For the Broken-Bracketed

It’s Saturday morning, Ducks fans!  There is reason to rejoice as our beloveds are still alive in the NCAA Tournament.  Later today, the Ducks take on the Wisconsin Badgers in a second-round match-up that Wisconsin fans have been awaiting ever since a certain Rose Bowl.  Badger fans are FIRED UP for this, baby!

Ma and Pa Kettle in line early for tickets

Ma and Pa Kettle in line early for tickets.

But what happens if we *gulp* lose?  What if our season is over, and our bracket is broken into a million pieces?  It was still a very fine season, and the envy of our Northwest rivals, but you might just want to watch something that isn’t The Tournament this weekend.  But what?

Is there anything to watch?

Is there anything to watch?

That’s why you have me around.  To find the hidden gems in television broadcasting.  So here are a few ideas for this weekend:

The Lorenzo Romar Story:  Reggie Jackson was Mr. October.  Jerry West was Mr. Clutch.  Pat Morita was Mr. Miyagi.  Watch at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time as Ion TV presents the story of the 2013-14 Washington Huskies.

"Lo"

“Lo?  Is that you?”

Hoop Glory:  It may be barely basketball, but the story of Oregon State’s Phoenix-like rise from the vanquished and humiliated Duck Chow, to participants in the AFL/CIO (or whatever it was called) is worth examining through the eyes of legendary producer John Waters.

See the rapt expressions on the faces of OSU fans as they packed the Charlie Sitton Bleachers near Ralph Miller Court in the bowels of Gill Coliseum to watch their team in a battle of the ages against . . . Radford?  Lifetime Movie Network presents at 11 a.m. PT.

"For the love of God, More Chainsaw"

“For the love of God, more chainsaw.”

The FishDuck Chronicles:  Is it time for football yet?  As a matter of fact, it is.  National Geographic has reached into the archives of our football tutorials to answer the question, “What makes Oregon’s offense so good?”

Is it luck, like Steve ‘the-drubbing-we-took-isn’t-indicative-of-the-difference-between-these-teams’ Sarkisian would have us believe?

Nope.

Is it because we cheat, as Oregon State dearly hoped would be the case?

Negative, captain.

So what is it then?

Yeah baby!

Yeah, baby!

Go Ducks!  Belt the Badgers!

Top photo by wikipedia.com

For The Oregon Ducks In the NCAA Tournament, It Will Be Deja Vu Playing Against BYU

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Prior to the Dec. 21 game between the Oregon Ducks and the BYU Cougars, many pundits and fans alike thought the game would be a clash between two NCAA tournament caliber teams.

However, no one could’ve predicted that the early season matchup would be a prelude to an NCAA tournament showdown.

On Thursday, No. 7 seed Oregon will play No. 10 BYU for its NCAA tournament lives in the first round in Milwaukee.

Oregon head coach Dana Altman commented on playing a repeat opponent in the first round.

“It’s a little unusual in these circumstances. I don’t think they try to do that much. But it’s not that big of a deal.”

In the game in December, the Ducks gave up a whopping 96 points, 22 points more than their season average(though the game went into overtime).

“They’re a very good offensive team. It was a long time ago that we played them. We’re a different team. They’re a different team. I don’t think we can draw too much from the first game. It was here, which was a big advantage for us because of the crowd,” Altman said. 

However, Loyd said the experience will be useful for preparation purposes.

Johnathan Loyd goes airborne in Oregon's first matchup against BYU. Photo - Craig Strobeck/Fishduck.com
Johnathan Loyd goes airborne in Oregon’s first matchup against BYU. Photo – Craig Strobeck/Fishduck.com

“Their zone defense is a little bit of a hybrid. So just see how they do it and see what kind of plays they run.”

In that game, Tyler Haws, the sixth leading scorer in the country, torched the Ducks for 32 points. 

Both Altman and Loyd have tons of respect for his game, especially his offensive repertoire.

“His midrange game is vicious, one dribble, two dribble pull-ups, he can get to the rack. He has the complete package.” Loyd said.

“He’s as good a offensive player that we’ve seen all year and we’ve faced some pretty good players. He can score with the best of them,” Altman added.

Though Oregon is extremely prolific offensively, scoring 81.8 ppg, BYU’s offense might be even more potent. The Cougars average 84.2 ppg. 

“Both of our strengths are still going to be to get up and down the floor. We’re both going to play to our strengths,” Loyd said. 

However, Kyle Collinsworth, BYU’s second leading scorer and leading rebounder, tore his ACL against Gonzaga in the WCC championship game and is out for the season. Collinsworth averaged 14 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and scored 15 points against the Ducks. 

Altman believes injuries are detrimental for an entire season or a long stretch, but not for one game.

“When a guy goes out for one game, everyone is excited about picking it up. Anyone who is backing him up is really excited about the opportunity. In past experience, it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.”

Jason Calliste driving the base line Photo - Dave Peaks
Jason Calliste driving the base line against California.
Photo – Dave Peaks/EDN

The player of the game in December was Jason Calliste, Oregon’s leading scorer off the bench. Calliste had his most prolific output of the season against BYU in December, scoring 31 points.

However, he suffered a minor injury against UCLA.

“He’s a little sore but I think he’ll be okay. By Thursday I think he will be ready to go,” Altman said.

As far as location is concerned, one Duck will be going home while a few others were disappointed that the the NCAA tournament committee didn’t send Oregon to their home state.

The lucky man is none other than F Elgin Cook, who is from Milwaukee.

 

Elgin Cook gets to go home to Milwaukee for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Elgin Cook gets to go home to Milwaukee for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Kevin Cline/FishDuck

“I know he’s excited to play there with all of his family watching,” Oregon G Damyean Dotson said.

“I wanted to go back to Texas actually. We could’ve been a 12 seed, I just wanted to go back home,” Dotson added.

Damyean Dotson drives towards the basket. Photo courtesy of AP/Ted S. Warren.
Damyean Dotson drives towards the basket. Photo courtesy of AP/Ted S. Warren.

“Rich and Jason were hoping for Buffalo. Joe and Dot were hopping for San Antonio. Elgin had Milwaukee and I didn’t care,” Altman said. 

In order for the Ducks to stick around for more than a few days, they must rejuvenate after a somewhat disappointing Pac-12 tournament performance.

The Ducks are coming off a loss to UCLA in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament, where they completely collapsed in the second half. Oregon was down by just two at halftime, but lost the game 82-63.

“After that loss we have a sour taste in our mouths. We feel like we didn’t have our best game and didn’t give it our all,” Loyd said.

“It was tough because we just didn’t play very well. I think that hurt them more than anything. They’ll bounce back,” Altman added.

Also, Dotson must play close to how he played in last year’s NCAA Tournament, where he averaged 17.3 ppg., and the antithesis of his performance since he recently tried to bring a fake ID into Taylor’s Bar & Grill. The Oregon guard is averaging just 5.7 ppg on 28 percent shooting in the six games since the incident.

“I just got to get in the gym and just focus. It’s gonna start with me playing defense and getting rebounds,” Dotson said.

If the Ducks defeat the Cougars, they will play the winner of No. 2 seed Wisconsin and No. 15 seed American.

Not to diminish the daunting task of defeating a tough Badgers squad, but if the Ducks do pull off the upset, and if Creighton can win as favorites in the first two rounds, Altman will coach against his former team in the Sweet 16.

“I am happy for Creighton. They’ve had a wonderful year. (Doug)McDermott, whoo, what an incredible year. I hope we do play them. That means they won and we won.”

Last year, the Ducks won the Pac-12 tournament, but were slated as a No. 12 seed. This year, they lost in the quarterfinals, but were selected as a No. 7 seed.

“The complete opposite from last year. I feel like we were disrespected last year,” Loyd said.

Still, the Ducks proved themselves last year, pulling off multiple upsets to make it to the Sweet 16.

But just because Oregon made it to the Sweet 16 last year doesn’t mean they will take an NCAA tournament birth for granted this year.

“I feel nothing but excitement. It’s a great opportunity for us,” Loyd said. 

Altman at the wheel. | AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu
Altman is pumped for the NCAA tournament. | AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Altman has the most understandable reason to be ho-hum about the tournament, as he has already coached in nine NCAA tournaments. However, he still maintains enthusiasm.

“I hope the guys are looking forward to it. I know I am. It never gets old.”