It wasn't the endin we wanted for the Ducks. After somehow compiling a 7-7 conference record, the Ducks dropped 4 straight games, 3 of which we had thought were winnable games. Losses to Cal, Stanford, and ASU were reminders of why this team was picked (by a wide margin) to finish last in the conference.
The Ducks played well in their regular season finale against Arizona, shooting over 50% from the field and scoring 82, but they couldn't stop the Arizona offense, and the Wildcats were simply too much for Oregon. The Ducks never seriously threatened Arizona, who won the conference regualar season title.
Yet, despite the late season setbacks, I can't be anything other than thrilled with the outcome of this season. Oregon finished tied for 7th in conference, swept the Beavers and USC, knocked off the Huskies, and, best of all, made it fun to watch Oregon basketball again.
The road to hiring Dana Altman was long, and his first offseason was tumultuous, but he got this team, and especially senior Joevan Catron, playing at levels few imagined. When they were at the best, they could play with any team in the conference. They fought hard on defense, moved the ball well on offense, and hit the open shots. They played like they knew what they were doing, and they were in a groove for a few weeks, and what an exciting time it was.
As some of you know, I simply stopped caring about Oregon basketball after 2007. The team was loaded with talent, somehow snuck into the NCAA touranament, and blew a game to Mississippi State in a manner that was so typical of the Ernie Kent era. When those teams were hitting shots, they were fun to watch. When they weren't, and didn't have the talent to create shots, it was excrutiating. This team made me care about Oregon basketball again, and that's all I was hoping for out of Dana Altman's first year.
Oregon still has at least one more game left, and it's a winnable one against Arizona State. Though the Ducks lost twice to the Sun Devils, both were two of the worst shooting games of the season. The Ducks showed signs of getting back their momentum against Arizona, and if that continues, they have a great chance to make it to the second day of the tournament, and add another victory to an exciting season.
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