The Oregon Ducks have had a tale-of-two-seasons approach to this season, a great non-conference win tally, but a horrid in-conference season in the Pac-12. If the Ducks wanted any chance at getting to the NCAA tournament, it had to happen in a grind-it-out style against the Oregon State Beavers.
The Ducks find themselves at 16-8 with just four conferences wins (including the Oregon State win). Despite losing their last two games going into the rivalry game between the Beavers, the Ducks looked like they had been gathering back up to their pre-Pac-12 performances. In fact, the last three losses for the Ducks have been by a combined six points to the UCLA Bruins, Arizona Wildcats and Arizona State Sun Devils.
With the Ducks’ style of play—a quick shot approach on offense and a lack of intensity on defense—it’s easy to get lackadaisical in an approach to win games. Coach Dana Altman has figured it out and has his team playing better, finally.
The Ducks had a lot of expectations in the preseason, but recently, it’s been an awful sighting going just 4-8 in conference games—including the 67-60 win against the Beavers. If the Ducks can play defense like they did against the Beavers today, it could be a dangerous team come conference tournament time on a neutral court. With a three-guard rotation, it’s easy to see your guys taking long, contested jumpers, but it looked like they were ready to finally change that approach.
The Ducks’ guard combination of Joseph Young, Johnathon Loyd, Damyean Dotson, Jason Calliste and Dominic Artis can cause other team’s head coaches to shake their heads, but recently it’s been all Altman shaking his head. Finally his Ducks got the much-needed win as his guards tallied a combined 63 points and 16 assists.
Could this mean that the Ducks finally have a chance at pushing themselves into the tournament?
John Lloyd is a Pac-12 Basketball Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHLloydIII