It appears the Oregon Ducks (19-5, 8-3 PAC-12) men’s basketball team has been doing some praying.
In the midst of what was Oregon’s worst week of the season, which included three straight losses to Stanford, California and Colorado, the Ducks are miraculously tied atop the PAC-12 Conference standings with No. 7 ranked Arizona.
How did this happen? Only God knows.
Two weeks ago, it appeared like Oregon head coach Dana Altman had stolen a page out of former Ducks football coach Chip Kelly’s playbook. Not only were the Ducks ranked No. 10 in the nation, they were undefeated in PAC-12 play and didn’t appear to be slowing down.
But when something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Following two powerful wins over then No. 4 Arizona and No. 24 UCLA, the Ducks lost starting point guard Dominic Artis for what they hoped would be a few games. Then a few games turned into five, and Oregon was in the middle of a confusing three-game losing streak to conference middleweights. In Artis’ absence, junior replacement Johnathon Loyd committed 13 turnovers including a career high six in the Ducks’ loss to Cal.
Despite Oregon’s struggles during the fortnight from hell, they currently rest in a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Arizona and UCLA. The Wildcats, Sun Devils and Bruins all had a rare opportunity to separate themselves from Oregon in the standings, but failed to do so. Arizona and Arizona State both lost unbelievable games at home — Cal and Stanford respectively — allowing the Ducks to take a deep sigh of relief.
Now Oregon gets to regroup and continue to push for the No. 1 seed in one of the more difficult basketball conference, after the threat of dropping completely out of the AP Top 25 was very much a possibility.
Artis will return on the road against Washington on Feb. 13, and all that was the worst week of the 2012-13 season for Oregon is an afterthought. Who knows if Artis will be as dominant as he was before the injury (10.2 ppg, 3.8 ast. as a freshman) but his unique ability to take care of the basketball will be greatly appreciated by Coach Altman.
Whether Oregon sought religious counseling over the last two weeks or not, one thing seems clear: God looks kindly upon the Ducks.