Oregon Ducks

Oregonian women's hoop has national respect

Oregon, OSU, even Portland are expected to perform well
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

As another season of college basketball approaches, women's teams from across Oregon have turned into psuedo powerhouses - now including the University of Portland.

After winning the West Coast Conference tournament last season with a core of underclass players, the Pilots were picked to finish third in the regular season which begins Dec. 28.

Oregon and Oregon State are not only picked to compete for the Pac-12 Conference title, but are among the Top 20 in the nation.

The Ducks and Beavers have not released their season-opening dates.

Oregon was 31-2 and had won the conference title when the college season came to an abrupt end last year. The Ducks graduated the top pick and No. 3 pick as well in the WNBA Draft. But, the returning crew is stacked enough to warrant a No. 10 ranking by ESPN.

Oregon State enters the season ranked No. 18 in the same poll.

Stanford, No. 2, Arizona, No. 7, and UCLA, No. 9, give the Pac-12 a ton of national respect.

Gonzaga, which won the WCC regular-season title last season, begins the year ranked No. 21.

Portland State is picked by coaches to finish in the middle of the Big Sky Conference.

 

 

Oregon might very well be a playoff team

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 10:25am
Cliff Pfenning
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College athletics have been affected significantly this year by the global pandemic known as COVID-19, but Saturday showed off the college football world hasn’t changed much: the South and East Coast still run the world and Oregon fans can pretty much just hold their breath in relations to getting a spot in the four-team College Football Playoffs.

No. 1 Clemson lost to No. 4 Notre Dame in double overtime, but, of course, Clemson didn’t have its normal starter - Heisman candidate Trevor Lawrence due to pandemic protocol - so Clemson should still be a candidate for that top four teams if he were back in the line-up.

The second-best team in the Southeastern Conference, or, in this case the Atlantic Coast Conference, is always going to be better than the champion from the Pac-12. That’s how the weekend worked.

At least, that’s how this weekend worked. The Pac-12 wasn’t even going to play a season a month ago, then decided to give it a whack. So much is uncertain these days. But, the SEC and Clemson/Notre Dame commitment, that’s gold.

So, Oregon has some work to do if it hopes/expects a chance to compete for the national championship. And, why else play, of course, if you have a $100 million practice facility?

The Ducks did a fairly good job of showcasing their talents in the 35-14 win over Stanford Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Actually, very good starting with quarterback Tyler Shough, who ran for 85 yards on just 11 carries. His decision-making on hand-offs up the middle that turned into runs around the left end looked like national championship-caliber material.

Running back CJ Verdell’s ability to squeeze through small holes looks impressive, and the Ducks’ cadre of receivers led by DJ Johnson and Jaylon Redd did great work as well. On offense, Oregon looked great.

On defense, holding the Cardinal to 14 points was a good effort, although that was solely because of four missed field goals. Ouch. The Ducks gave up more than 400 yards of total offense, and forced only two punts. The team has just three tackles for loss. Stanford had a 32-28 edge in time of possession.

There’s work to do on defense, although it can be argued when the pressure hit the D did force those field-goal attempts.

Overall, it was a good win, setting up another chance for a good win at a potentially-pesky Washington State squad, and so on to the conference championship game - hopefully against USC and the Los Angeles media market, on Dec. 18 - primetime, a day ahead of the major conference title game bonanaza the following day.

All five of the major conferences have title games, so the idea that only conference champion teams should be among the four will be hyped-up this year in that there’s fewer games and weeks to promote some second-place division team such as often does within the SEC.

Oregon has a pathway to the College Football Playoffs, it just needs to play its way there by winning seven consecutive games, basically in the manner it did with Stanford on Saturday.

 

Ducks roll through Stanford

Oregon opens Pac-12 play as favorite, and wins
Staff Report

The magic of Stanford beating Oregon that's happened in the past lasted about seven minutes Saturday night.

In the rest of the PAc-12 Conference football opener between the Cardinal and Ducks, Oregon dominated and finished with a 35-14 victory in the season-opener for both teams at Autzen Stadium.

Tyler Shough, making his first start, compiled 312 yards of total offense and threw and ran for touhdowns to lead the Ducks, who were conference champions last season.

CJ Verdell ran for 105 yards and a score on 20 carries and Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio also ran for scores as Oregon compiled 269 yards on the ground, and 496 total yards to help overcome a pair of turnovers.

Stanford amasses 413 total yards and moved the ball continually, but stalled in Oregon territory, which led to four field-goal attempts - all misses.

Oregon missed its lone attempt as well.

The Ducks return to play on Saturday at Washington State, which won at Oregon State Saturday.

Portland State gets ready for its home opener in basketball.

 

Gov. Brown should address Covid-19 burnout

There's 33,000 cases but only 58 deaths among residents 59 and younger
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

As the Pac-12 Conference moves to within a week away from starting its football season, there’s an elephant in the room of public debate - actually several elephants - in regards to public welfare and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

These elephants relate to sports in numerous ways, including fans in attendance at events. They're very toxic topics to get into, and Gov. Kate Brown would do the public some great service by addressing them, especially if it were in a town hall format.

Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano would certainly love to have the mic first and ask about the denial to grant the University of Portland and Portland State basketball programs the ability to practice and play games regardless of having fans in attendance. She's full-on said "no" even though Canzano has promoted they're the only two Div. I programs in the entire nation that are not openly practicing and preparing for games.

Perhaps Merritt Paulson, owner of the Timbers and Thorns, could ask about the reality of Phase 3 conditions for having fans at games. Both of those teams have been hit hard by the pandemic, but they at least have some TV revenue to help them survive. The Portland Winterhawks do not, and without fans in attendance they will not play this season, and might simply fold as a business.

I'd jump in and get to the first elephant, which involves Phase 3. In order for teams to have an audience, there needs to be a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19. So, what if there isn't one and what we've been able to do as a state - still under 700 deaths after seven months, is as good as we can do?

The logic behind this question is simple.

The 1918 Spanish Flu that killed more than 600,000 Americans in about 18 months by most reports, did not have a cure. Or a vaccine. And, it killed more than 50 million people across the globe. But, around 1920, it just ended. That might read like something America’s worst-ever President might say or tweet, but if you search online for “spanish flu cure” that’s what you’ll find. There wasn’t one. It just stopped being a threat to daily life and the US went back to chasing bootleggers instead.

The second elephant involves the vaccine. What if it shows up, but nobody gets it? A survey of 1,000 residents produced for the state showed that only about 40 percent of Oregonians would definitely get the vaccine. Half the residents surveyed said they weren’t sure what they would do, which is what happens with the flu vaccine every year - everyone does not get it. 

The third involves prosperity and simple public burnout. When the virus truly arrived publicly as a serious threat - March 11 with the positive test of Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert, many leaders began immediate preparations for a tsunami of cases and deaths.

Gov. Brown personally took action to turn the state fairgrounds in Salem into a 250-bed facility to handle overflow patients because one estimate had the state with as many as 75,000 cases in just two months. That’s a tsunami of cases. After seven months, though, the total number of cases has just passed 40,000, and total deaths above 650.

One factor keeping both those numbers down definitely has to do with the significant reaction to the potential tsunami: instructing the public to stay indoors, and closing most non-essential businesses such as restaurants, canibus shops, bowling alleys, gyms, salons, etc. With less contact, the virus has largely been kept in check within the state. How long that needs to go on, though, moves right into public burnout, and a key for that is the fourth elephant - the virus impacts a particular part of the populace much more than the overall population: men and women older than 60.

Information from both the CDC and Oregon Health Administration shows that 91 percent of the deaths attributed to the virus in Oregon were among the 60-and-older age-group. 

According to the most recent weekly report released by the OHA Oct. 21, of the 39,794 cases reported, 33,289 were from among residents 59 and younger - 83 percent of positive tests. The number of deaths for that group was 58. For seven months. That’s from more than 750,000 tests.

Younger people are not affected as decisively by the virus. In closing all those small businesses, though, their opportunities for prosperity are.

The burnout from numbers like this is in the focus on the spread of the virus. Super-spreader is a term associated with how many people might get the virus from an event, such as a football game, even if the people least likely to catch the virus and die are the ones at the game. Avoiding the risk those fans might catch it and pass it along even without knowing they ever had it in some cases is currently worth keeping everyone away from the event in the first place. But, for how long?

And, there's a big question about the connection between published testing/case results and actual deaths, in that they are not connected. The number of residents who die from COVID-19 in the state is a hard fact not related to the number of tests conducted. Cases, meanwhile, is a soft fact related entirely to the number of tests conducted. As more tests are conducted, the number of positive results will increase, but the number of deaths is not related to the number of tests or positive tests in any way.

The number of positive tests and deaths would very likely go up were society to return to more of a pre-March 11 lifestyle, which leads to the fifth elephant - is the return to the more prosperous lifestyle worth the risk of an increase in deaths? 

Again, if this reads like something the President might say or tweet, ponder that even a con man might say something that follows data and logic even though they’re literally farting into the wind when they say it just to prove they can make the wind change at will, not realizing their assistant just turned their body so the flatulence would magically float away with the wind.

"The virus will just magically end."

But, that's what history actually says happened to the 1918 pandemic.

The herd immunity that gets brought up regularly, well, that’s what national news media is involved with as it avoids addressing any of these elephants. It just focuses on the number of cases and the number of deaths, two figures that have a lot of extra perspective about them that goes unnoticed. 

The sixth elephant, well, that might be the biggest one of all here - evictions. The moratorium on evictions has to expire at some point, and when it does, there's going to be a huge demand for media time to cover all the heartbreak being passed around just the Portland area. Without more access to a pre-outbreak lifestyle, evictions are going to hit the state much harder than the pandemic itself.

Gov. Brown would do the public well to address these elephants as demand for more lifestyle increases.

With football season about to return to the state and plenty of fans yearning for a seat at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Or Reser Stadium in Corvallis, most fans would likely have no problem wearing a mask, except, maybe, when the Ducks or Beavers face third-and-two on their opponents’ 18.

The public should have a voice in reassessing Phase 3 requirements for larger gatherings, because there’s good logic to suggest those requirements may never get met.

 

Oregon hoops leads national rankings

The senior class signings are No. 1 according to ESPN
Staff Report

In spite of all the challenges college athletics have had to handle this year, the prospects of coming seasons have not stopped, and the Oregon men's team has assumed a special place in national respect - it's recruiting class of current high school seniors is ranked No. 1 by ESPN.

Staff writers Jeff Borzello and Adam Finkelstein named the Ducks No. 1 earlier this week, topping all the traditional recruiting powers such as Duke, Louisville and Kentucky.

“Recruiting didn’t skip a beat, despite coaches not being able to see prospects in person and being forced to conduct recruitments entirely via phone and video," the duo wrote. "The 2021 class is still relatively on pace with previous classes, as 70 prospects in the ESPN 100 are already committed. So we have a strong idea of how the top recruiting classes in the country are going to stack up.”

Oregon coach Dana Altman has enticed two of the top centers in the nation - Nathan Bittle and Franck Kepnang, rated No. 2 and 4 among centers. Another signee, Johnathan Lawson, is among the top forwards. All three are rated at 47th or higher in overall Top 100 recruits.

 

Are college student/athletes really just assets?

Oregon's rumored bail from Pac-12 is just bad for the state
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

There’s a lot of online discussions these days about the University of Oregon leaving the Pac-12 Conference for better exposure and bigger financial numbers in the Big 12 or even Big Ten, and it’s all wrong for the state.

It’s probably a good decision to the bottom line for Oregon’s athletic department, and especially its football program, but the school needs to remember it’s a public institution and there should be a lot more commitment to that than a few dollars and better positioning for the College Football Playoffs.

Yes, USC is apparently looking hard at that same move, which has social media abuzz with which other schools would bail from the Pac-12, and Oregon is either next, or right behind UCLA with Washington in there, too.

That would leave the Pac-12 with eight schools, including Oregon State, and a huge drop in revenue for each so that it would then need to add members or merge with another conference such as the Mountain West.

And, it’s all basically related to football and its four-team national championship playoffs.

The Pac-12 does just fine competitively in every sport, right up to the four-team CFP, which is an annual battle to play into ahead of a second team from the SEC. This past season, Oregon won the Pac-12 and was in the discussion for a spot until a late-season loss at Arizona State knocked it out. Even though the Ducks won the conference title game with a dominating performance, being a conference champion of one of the five Power Conferences - along with the ACC and All-American Conference - doesn’t mean anything to the CFP voting committee, which probably still would have put one-loss Alabama ahead of one-loss Oregon into the Final Four.

Is that one thing enough to leave behind the Pac-12 and sister school Oregon State?

Here’s a "no" vote on that.

A key thing to figure in is the athletes that make the school what it is. Sure, each school wants to give its athletes the best experience possible, and that revolves around money to a significant degree. But, is football the complete measure of an athletic department’s capabilities?

If the conference champion can’t compete for a spot in the CFP equally with the second-place team from the SEC or Big Ten without being unbeaten, should the entire world of college sports on the West Coast change?

College football is already crazy with how much money is delivered to head coaches - many of whom are more known in each state than, say, the governor (at least until recently).

The Athletic’s Andy Staples recently wrote this four-team move should happen into the Big 12, which would become the Big 16 (even though the Big 12 only has 10 schools and would thus become the Big 14) - what a crappy name to be part of.

The Pac-12 has tons of history that doesn’t seem to be much of a factor in these rumors, only money does. Plenty of athletes - student/athletes - love being part of the history of the conference. Winning a conference title has that flair attached to it. It’s not just a conference title, it’s a Pac-12 title with a list of former champions that goes back to 1916 for some sports - football and baseball. That would all be gone with a conference title needing wins over schools such as Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas State.

And, again, Oregon State gets absolutely lost in that, as would Washington State for that state.

Oregon State scrimps along to compete in the Pac-12, as does Washington State, but those schools compete relatively equally in many other sports - remember the national title the Beavers’ baseball team won in 2018? And 2006, and 2007?

Rumors are great for social media, especially these days where there’s no actual contests to bounce around. But, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens would do the state a great favor by talking over this subject with media and putting the Ducks squarely in the conference it’s been a part of for more than 100 years.

 

College, prep hoop get down to business

Brackets are in action across the state, West Coast
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

It's time for a whole lot of seasons to end for high school and college basketball teams.

Lots of hugs. A team meeting, and some speeches - an annual right of passage as playoffs and tournaments are in full swing across Oregon and the West Coast.

Class 3A, 2A and 1A state tournaments begin for girls teams today, with boys basketball tournaments beginning tomorrow at the same classifications in Coos Bay, Hermiston and Baker City.

Playoff brackets for girls and boys teams at the Class 6A, 5A and 4A levels began Tuesday night with those tournament set to start next week.

At the college level, there's significant action as well - in Las Vegas, where both the Pac-12 and West Coast Conference tournaments are set to play out beginning Thursday.

NCAA

In the Pac-12 women's tourney, Oregon State, ranked 14th, begins play on Thursday after finishing fifth in the highly competitive conference, which has five teams in the Top 14 of the final national rankings. The Beavers play Washington State in the first round.

No. 3 Oregon plays its game in the quarterfinals against one of Thursday's winners on Friday. 

In the WCC tourney, the University of Portland women's team doesn't play its first game until Saturday with its opponent still to be determined with games starting Thursday.

UP's men's team plays Santa Clara in the opening round Thursday.

The Pac-12 men's tournament is set for next week.

At the Div. II level, Western Oregon begins play in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's tournament in Seattle on Thursday against the University of Alaska.

At the Div. III level, the Northwest Conference played its tournaments over the weekend and George Fox of Newberg won the women's tournament for the third consecutive year on Saturday. The Foxes will play Montclair State Friday in the first round of the 64-team national tournament in Arlington, Va.

NAIA

In the Div. II Cascade Conference, both Northest Christian of Eugene and Southern Oregon played their way into the national tournament Tuesday. NCU won the tournament for the first time and SOU earned its spot by reaching the title game.

Oregon Tech reached the title game of the men's tournament, but Southern Oregon, which finished second during the regular season is automatically qualified for the national tournament despite losing in semifinals.

NWAACC

In the newly-renamed Northwest Athletic Conference, the 16-team men's and women's tournaments begin on Thursday in Everett, Wash. The women's tournament includes unbeaten Umpqua, Lane, Clackamas and Mt. Hood all in action, with winners playing Friday in the second round. Umpqua has finished second the past two seasons.

On the men's side, Clackamas, Umpqua, Portland and Chemeketa begin on Saturday with winners reaching the quarterfinals Sunday. Both tournaments close out the following weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon finally overcomes

No. 14 Ducks end three-game skid to Oregon State
Staff Report

The Oregon men's basketball team got back on track - in-state anyway - with its drive to own the Pac-12 Conference Thursday by beating Oregon State, 69-54, at Matthew Night Arena in Eugene.

It wasn't a surprise as Oregon entered ranked No. 14, while Oregon State entered just above .500. But, the Beavers had won the past three contests with the Ducks, including a 63-53 decision at Gill Coliseum earlier in the month. Hot shooting in the second half, though, helped Oregon pull away and end that particular skid on the way to moving back atop the conference standings.

Oregon improved to 22-7 overall, 11-5 in conference games, and into a tie with UCLA for the PAc-12 lead. The Ducks have home games with California and Stanford next week to round out the regular season.

Oregon State dropped to 15-13, 5-11 with home games against Stanford and Cal next week.

Senior Payton Pritchard, as he has nearly the entire season, led Oregon with 23 points, including 15 in the second half. Will Richardson added 15 points and Anthony Mathis had 13 for Oregon, which led just 29-25 at the half.

Ethan Thompson and Tres Tinkle combined for 29 points to lead the Beavers, who hit six of 20 3-point shots. Oregon hit 11 of 23 - 5-of-9 by Pritchard.

 

Ducks lead in-state title threats

Oregon's women have been at the top of the nation all season
By Cliff Pfenning, Publisher

It's getting to be a trend in Eugene that one of the town's two college teams is a threat to win its national title. This year is no different.

Both teams at the University of Oregon are ranked in th Top 15, and the UO women have fallen only as low as fourth after starting the season at No. 1. With a Final Four run in their pocket from 2019, the Ducks are again right in the mix of teams considered top contenders for this year's title. They're likely to not even need to leave the state in order to earn a Final Four spot as one of the four regional tournaments will be played in Portland.

They've likely already clinched a spot among the 16 teams that will play host to first- and second-round games.

The women's Final Four will be played in New Orleans, April 3 and 5.

Oregon's men moved to 14th Monday after sweeping a pair of home games over the weekend. With three weeks left in the regular season, the Ducks are tied for the Pac-12 standings lead. The men's Final Four will be played April 4 and 6 in Atlanta.

Among the other in-state tournament title contenders, Eastern Oregon's women and Northwest Christian's women stand out in the NAIA Div. II ranks, and Linfield's men's team stands out in the NCAA Div. III ranks.

Eastern and NWC are tied for the Cascade Conference lead heading into the regular-season finale for both teams Saturday in Eugene.

Linfield is 18-5 overall and 12-2 and in third place in the Northwest Conference. The Wildcats, though, play the two teams ahead of them in the standings, Whitman and Whitworth, this weekend.

Also, Oregon State's women have been ranked in the Top 25 and are among the teams that might qualify to host the first and second rounds, although they've got some work to do in the closing weeks of the season. The Pac-12 entered the week with 

 

DUCKS CLOBBER UCONN ON THE ROAD

Third-ranked and on a roll.

The Oregon Ducks started the women's basketball season ranked No. 1, and inspite of a couple losses, have remained one of the teams to beat for the national championship. They showed that off Monday afternoon by hammering No. 4 Connecticut 74-56 in Storrs, Conn., in a game televised on ESPN2.

UConn's loss was its worst on its home court in program history.

Forward Ruthy Hebard scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Ducks, who had all five starters finish in double figures. Sabrina Ionescu had 10 points, nine assists and nine rebounds to power the team effort, which included outscoring the Huskies in all four quarters before a sold-out arena.

Satou Sabally had 17 points, Erin Boley had 13 and Minyon Moore finished with 12 points.

Oregon improved to 20-2 overall with home games against Arizona on Friday and Arizona State on Sunday. The Sun Devils handed the Ducks their lone Pac-12 loss in January.

UConn dropped to 19-2.

The Ducks remained behind Baylor and South Carolina in the AP and Coaches Poll. 

In the first "reveal" for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, Oregon was listed as the West Region's top team, which includes playing host to the opening two rounds. The Regional Final Four is set for Portland, March 28 and 30th.

The Final Four will be played in New Orleans in April.

https://youtu.be/_0dWp1mqG2E

 

Defense will tell story of Ducks playoff options

Oregon needs to impress CFP voters to get a spot
By Cliff Pfenning

Offense wins games. Defense wins championships. This is what University of Oregon football fans should focus on for the final month of the season as the LSU at Alabama is set to play out Saturday.

With Oregon placed at No. 7 in the first College Football Playoff rankings, winning out the final four games might seem to guarantee a spot in the Final Four due to so many teams ahead of it playing each other. Only three teams have a chance at going unbeaten and if the Ducks end up with one loss and the Pac-12 title, they should be a natural pick for that honor.

But, the selection committee is going to look at the actual resume of the teams involved, and the loser of Saturday’s game might be a more logical choice for the fourth CFP spot, simply because they might be a better team, at least to the naked eye. This is where defense comes in.

Oregon can score points. That’s not a question. But, keeping the opponent out of the end zone is where the Ducks will make the biggest impression in the next month. They absolutely need to destroy their remaining opponents: Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon State on defense. And, beat Utah. This is the way to pump up the Oregon resume and put some major pressure on the CFP voters to offer the West Coast at least a chance to win the title. Remember the Ducks are really just a few inches away - a fourth down on Auburn’s final drive - from being unbeaten. (Auburn, which lost 23-20 at LSU two weeks ago, plays Alabama at the close of the regular season and can be a wrench in this whole argument for a second time).

Oregon’s defense has been up to the challenge for most of the season, especially on Saturday even with giving up 24 points. The dominance of the USC offense as the game went on was huge in the outcome, regardless of the 56 points put up on the scoreboard. The Ducks need to ratchet that performance up a couple notches - and not just focus on winning. But, complete dominance, even after possibly trailing due to a first-quarter score (the Ducks have trailed in the first quarter or first half of its past three games, allowing an average of 32 points per game over that stretch. They need to do much better for the CFP to come calling. 

The CFP voters aren’t going to look at a record so much as it’s belief in a team being able to win. I’d be doing that, too, and currently don’t think the Ducks are a top-four team. Even with the current eight-game win streak, I felt that way throughout the Auburn game - notably with the Tigers starting a true freshman. Auburn won the game at the end with an 18-year-old making plays. The Ducks started a senior and didn’t make the key plays. But, that’s changed as the season has progressed, including a game-winning drive in the final minute to beat Washington State.

The final four weeks - a blowout in the Pac-12 final - will do a lot to convince me they can beat Alabama or Clemson or Ohio State, and that’s what will get the votes to actually have that chance. 

And, the defense is the key to that.

 

 

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