The high-flying Ducks have migrated south to spoil our winter of discontent. In a somewhat surprising development, we're not talking about their ludicrous-speed eyesore of a football team. Despite relying heavily on a trio of true freshman guards, Oregon has the inside track to the Pac-12 championship. Coach Dana Altman has put together a gem of a coaching job and already owns upset wins over presumptive conference favorites UCLA and Arizona. Throw in a thorough beat-down of UW for good measure, and the Ducks(18-4, 7-1) had annihilated all comers...until inexplicably getting their beaks kicked in by Stanford. As they say, timing is everything. There's nothing like facing the top team in the conference after they've been embarrassed and are presumably re-loaded for bear.
Even with point guard Dominic Artis starring in AFLAC commercials (out indefinitely with an injury), these Ducks go nine deep and love to get out and run.
Although they're turnover prone and don't shoot the three-pointer particularly well, it hasn't stopped them from being the most potent offense in the conference. It's a balanced attack with six players averaging close to double figures. When you add in that they lead the league in rebounding differential and are also one of the best defensive squads, it's a recipe for duck rampage, not duck confit.
With their penchant for causing turnovers and converting those takeaways into points, this one has the potential to get ugly fast. The Ducks are the deeper team with plenty of athleticism and they're playing with confidence at an extremely high level. Sadly enough, we're cast as the evil twin in this scenario.
But perhaps some home-cooking and an intimidating Gold Out will get our guys fired up to play some inspired ball.
C Tony Woods(Sr), 6'11, 243 lbs, 10.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg
F EJ Singler(Sr), 6'6, 215 lbs, 11.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg
F Arsalan Kazemi(Sr), 6'7, 226 lbs, 8.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg
G Damyean Dotson(Fr), 6'5, 202 lbs, 11.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg
G Johnathan Loyd(Jr), 5'8, 165 lbs, 3.1 ppg, 2.3 apg
Tony Woods was their leading shot-blocker last year. This season, he's picked up his offensive game to become a consistent scoring threat in the paint. EJ Singler is their most versatile and dangerous player. He's the Ducks' best three-point shooter, but can also put it on the floor to either distribute or drive the lane. Arslan Kazemi is a transfer from Rice who chose the Ducks over Calipari and Kentucky. Once again, the curse of Ben Braun haunts Cal basketball. Before transferring, he averaged a double-double and was the favorite to win Conference USA's player of the year. He's by far their best rebounder and has a four game streak of 10+ boards. Damyean Dotson is a high-motor athlete described as a "young Scottie Pippen." Veteran Johnathan Loyd and true frosh Willie Moore have platooned to fill in for the injured Dominic Artis. Carlos Emory is their sixth man. He's a physical player who is another inside/out scoring threat. Waverly Austin was a JuCo All-American and platoons with Woods to provide an intimidating inside presence.
Keys to the Game:
1) Transition Defense.
The Ducks want to push the tempo at every opportunity and run our shorthanded Bears out of the gym. We have to be aware that they will attack whenever possible, even off of made baskets.
2) Transition Defense.
3) Don't panic.
The frenetic pace and swarming defense have a tendency to get you playing too fast. Our guys need to have the mental toughness to weather the storm and stick to what we do well.
4) Loosen up.
For the most part, we've seen the Bears trying hard out there. In some cases, it almost looks like they're putting too much pressure on themselves to be perfect and it's having an adverse effect on having open shots go down. We've got nothing to lose in this game. Just go out, have fun, and play some good basketball.
Game Time: Saturday, February 2, 1:30pm(PST)
There will be pre-game food trucks and free T-shirts.