It may not have been the prettiest preseason for the Ducks men’s basketball team, but to say it was a bad preseason wouldn’t be accurate. Yes, Oregon (7-5) lost its final non-conference home game at historic Mac Court Tuesday night 69-65 to Idaho, but Oregon showed its ability’s in the two month stretch.
Before the season began I wrote that Oregon might not be in the top half of the Pac-10 but they will pull off some upsets…I stick by my comment. While I’m not a big fan of moral victories, there were two of them for the Ducks in the loss Column in the preseason. The first time was when the Ducks were down 31-12 in the first half against Duke and battled back to get within ten of the top ranked Blue Devils and never stopped battling until the buzzer sounded. Ultimately the Ducks fell but they showed heart in their effort when in the past Ducks teams may have crumbled under the pressure of playing in the spotlight against a team as talented and deep as Duke.
The second came again with them was trailing big. The 8th ranked Missouri Tigers held a 20 point halftime lead but Oregon wasn’t going to quit. E.J. Singler made 8-15 from downtown and led the Ducks with 19 points and the Ducks rallied to only come up short by three points.
While they played decent against teams like #1 Duke and #8 Missouri, they struggled early on. Playing against opponents such as North Dakota State, Denver, and UC Santa Barbra they were able to squeak out victories…in some cases they needed overtime. Not to mention a last second loss at home to San Jose State. Following the loss, Oregon went on to hammer Texas Southern before squaring off with Duke and Missouri.
After the Ducks were able to at least put a bit of a scare into the Blue Devils and Tigers, they were able to rip off three consecutive victories against Portland State, Willamette, and Jacksonville State with a combined score of 242-172. It may not be the greatest of competition, but Oregon did what it was supposed to do, without any issues, something that was fixed after they struggled early on against subpar teams.
The Ducks lost their last two non-conference games, one on the road against a Virginia team that is currently 8-3 and another against an Idaho team that only allowed the Ducks to make 33.8% of their shots as well as 24.1% from three point land. Not a good way to end their preseason and gives them a bad taste in their mouth before their break before Pac-10 play opens up next Thursday for a pair of games against the Arizona Schools. It will be the final two home games at Mac Court for Oregon before moving to Matthew Knight Arena.
As I said above, it wasn’t a pretty preseason, but there is a lot to take away from this. The Ducks are beginning the Dana Altman era out with a new style. You can see these Ducks playing with a new energy and excitement. On defense you can see a lot better pressure, attack, and hustle than we have seen in years from a Ducks team. The 2010-2011 Ducks have gotten back to the fundamentals of the game, and it’s exciting to watch this team grow. This team plays 40 minutes and attacks the opposing defense no matter what the situation is. The emergence of Joevan Catron has been great for the Ducks, but I still would like to see Malcom Armstead and few other guards knocking down some more open jumpers.
There is no questioning that they have a long way to go, but I believe you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The light may seem far away, and your still a longs ways from getting there, but they can and should get their if they continue to buy into coach Altman’s system.
Bottom Line: The Ducks finished the preseason 7-5. Without ever really getting blown out (with the exception of the Duke game) Oregon went on to play a decent preseason. They didn’t play the lightest schedule and showed an ability to play against good teams. They struggled early on but still found ways to win. Overall I give the men’s Ducks basketball team a C+ for their season leading into Pac-10.
Check back tomorrow for a preseason grade of the women’s basketball team