Oregon dropped two in the desert this weekend and has started the Pac-10 season 0-4. I know, I know...rebuilding year right? The Ducks started out well and ended well but just couldn't put together that complete game we've been clamouring for. How many times have we said that this year? Get used to it because it will most likely be the mantra repeated over and over and over. First 10 minutes of the game went well. Next 20 minutes of the game were not good at all. Last 10 minutes of the game went well. Arizona State is the real deal and should compete against UCLA for the conference title this year but that aside, the issues of Oregon flared up and show why we are having the year we are having. Catron specifically had a stretch of 3 straight turnovers that swung the momentum away from the Ducks. If I was sitting there thinking "here we go again," the players must have been too to some extent.
The big news that came out of the loss to the Sun Devils was TP getting benched by Ernie for the entire second half. Bob Clark, of the Register Guard fame, submitted this in his blog:
"The biggest thing to understand is there’s not one single player or one single coach who’s bigger than this program," UO coach Ernie Kent said in discussing the situation with reporters. Kent pulled Porter out of the game with 36 seconds remaining in the first half, explaining that it was due to his junior guard "not making a hustle play" when ASU (14-2 overall, 3-1 in the Pac-10) recovered a loose ball for an Oregon turnover and converted it into two points for a 16-point advantage.
For those that were able to watch the game on FSN, you can visibly see an upset TP get sent to the bench right before halftime. I could see Ernie getting frustrated with TP and the play specifically in question but I didn't anticipate the reaction to the situation from Porter. For someone who is supposed to be a leader on this team, that isn't the way you handle yourself in those situations.
"I felt like that young group was in a better groove," Kent said of Oregon’s lineup of first-year players. "If you want to call it (Porter) being disciplined … I just felt like he needed to sit down at that point in time."
Kent also said the dispute "wasn’t necessarily having words, it was more, ‘we’re coaching you, so sit down.’ He needs to do that at times. He challenged a couple coaches there so he needed to sit and watch a little bit."
It doesn't seem like a big deal but how much this frustration starts to boil over in other players remains to be seen. There aren't too many leftovers from last years team that went to the NCAA Tournament. TP hasn't been having a great year so far and combine that with a losing record makes for one frustrated little guy.
Porter finished with three points, all on free throws. That came after he scored only two points in Thursday’s loss to Arizona. Oregon’s leading scorer with an average of 14 points, Porter declined requests from reporters to be interviewed after the game. “He was frustrated because a few things didn’t go his way,” said LeKendric Longmire, who led the Ducks with 15 points.
Even with Porter's troubles, there was some signs of things to come with Drew Wiley coming out of his shell a little bit, knocking down some great shots, having a really good 3-pt play the old fashioned way and hustling all over. The experience is valuable and there was a healthy stretch during the second half with a 5 freshman team that was doing well if not better than the veterens.
On a personal note, I felt the TP benching was more than justified and Ernie made the right call, albeit a difficult one. It was the right thing to do in the situation by the coaching staff to sit him down and let him "think about what he's done".