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Catching Up with the Ducks, Part I

It's been a long, hard first few weeks of the Pac-10 season for the Oregon Men's Basketball team, but let's break out the ruler and see just how long and hard this thing really was. Here's my attempt to piece together a hodgepodge of information to paint you a clearer picture of what the Ducks are dealing with. Please visit the links provided to do some more in-depth scouting. 

Oregon finished the pre-season with a 6-6 record, with the headliner being a 92-69 win over Alabama. They lost games to then-No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Texas, as well as the University of Oakland (Michigan), San Diego, and St. Mary's. PaulSF of Addicted to Quack had his take on the pre-season:

At first glance, a 6-6 record after a slate featuring six home games, one quasi home game (A.K.A. Papé Jam) and five on the road seemed, well, more or less expected.  And with four of those 12 preseason matchups coming against teams from major conferences and another two against quality mid-majors, a .500 nonconference finish seemed somewhat impressive for a team whose roster features nine new players, including six true freshman.

The Ducks started out the season at Mac Court against USC, where the Trojans won 83-62. Bob Clark of the Eugene Register-Guard elaborates:

How bad was it? The Ducks were outscored by 21 points in the second half, outrebounded by double digits and outshot in every category. It added up to the worst loss at home for the Ducks since a 97-72 trouncing by Arizona State on Feb. 4, 2001.

After that, it was the three time Pac-10 Champions, UCLA, who came to Mac Court. The  Ducks hung tough, but lost 83-74. 

From Clark:

There were positives for the Ducks. They scored the most points of any UCLA opponent this season, and were 17 over the average allowed by the Bruins. Tajuan Porter led Oregon with 24 points, the second-highest total by an opponent against the Bruins this season. The Ducks shot 50 percent in the second half, and did much of their damage on the inside after a first half in which five of Oregon's seven field goals had been from three-point range.
Never ahead and down by as many as 13 points in the first half, it also wasn't a repeat of Oregon's loss on Friday to USC, when the Ducks seemed to have limited energy remaining for the second half.

 

and Nestor of Bruins Nation, for some UCLA perspective:

Ben Ball warriors [UCLA] survive a MAJOR scare against Ernie Kent's Ducks, but thanks to Josh Shipp's clutch shots (and best game of the season) manage to pull out a nail biting win to pull out a road sweep in Oregon:

So maybe this one was closer than it first seemed. 

After being swept by the Los Angeles schools, it was off to the desert, where the Ducks lost to both Arizona and Arizona State. 

In the loss to Arizona, the Ducks were 20-of-45 from the field, for 37 percent.  Of those 45 shots, the Ducks were 4-of-22 from behind the arc. The Ducks were outrebounded by ten, had ten more fouls than the Wildcats, and shot 13 less free throws. 

From Addicted to Quack:

Our shooting was awful. The funny thing is that we're playing good team basketball for the most part. We're scrappy, getting steals, moving the ball around and otherwise being solid in our schemes. The problem comes down to weak individual performances.

At this point, the Ducks were 0-3 with one of the Pac-10's best teams, Arizona State, next on the schedule. Before the game with the Sun Devils, head coach Ernie Kent was ssked about the poor performance at Arizona, and responded with this: "We had some great looks in the first half but we did not score the ball so consequently it affected our energy and our confidence a little bit," UO coach Ernie Kent said. "I thought we were horrible offensively in terms of the shots we left out on the floor and the points because we could not get the ball to fall."

At Arizona State, the Ducks stuck around with the Sun Devils in the first ten minutes of the game. Oregon led with 9:40 remaining in the first half, but went into the locker room down sixteen. It was during that stretch that the infamous benching of Tijiuan Porter occured. Explain yourself, coach:

"The biggest thing to understand is there's not one single player or one single coach who's bigger than this program," UO coach Ernie Kent said in discussing the situation with reporters. Kent pulled Porter out of the game with 36 seconds remaining in the first half, explaining that it was due to his junior guard "not making a hustle play" when ASU (14-2 overall, 3-1 in the Pac-10) recovered a loose ball for an Oregon turnover and converted it into two points for a 16-point advantage."I felt like that young group was in a better groove," Kent said of Oregon's lineup of first-year players. "If you want to call it (Porter) being disciplined ... I just felt like he needed to sit down at that point in time." (credit: Clark)

After being ahead 16 at half, the Sun Devils extended their lead to over twenty points in the first ten minutes of the second half. Oregon closed the gap in the final ten minutes, and went on to lose by 15. 

So there you have it, a look at Oregon's first two weekends of Pac-10 play. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at their games against the Washington schools and the Los Angeles schools in preparation for Saturday's Civil War. 

--Jake (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)