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Arizona Recap: In Aaron we trust

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Well, as we are finding out more and more every week, this isn't last year's Ducks.  All the close games they lost last year?  Ancient history.  In all five Pac-10 games this season, the margin of victory has been five or less.  The Ducks are 4-1 in those games.  Chalk it up to experience.  They've been there before, and will themselves to victory this time around.

This is a huge win for the Ducks.  Barring a footballesque collapse (knock, knock), it should put them in great position not only to make the NCAA tournament, but to get a very good seed.  That's two top ten teams in eight games, folks.  Pretty impressive stuff.  Think that the committee will be looking at that when determining Oregon's seeding?

Two things that I really like about this team.  One is that they do not panic under pressure.  In fact, they seem to thrive on it.  There never seems to be a sense of panic or urgency with this team.  They have a quiet confidence that they are going to take care of business, and sixteen times in seventeen games, they have done just that.  I mean, the whole freakin' arena knew that they were going to set a high screen and roll for Brooks, and that he was going to take that shot, and they still couldn't stop him.

The other thing that I like is that they seem to be getting better from game to game, and, even within games, from possession to possession.  Look at last night.  In the first half, they were only in the game due to the three pointer.  They could not penetrate Arizona's 3-2 zone whatsoever.  But late in the game, where they needed to score pretty much every possession, it was largely high percentage inside shots that were being taken.

It was also one of the most exciting basketball games I have ever watched.  Up and down.  Lead change after lead change.  And a great player making a great shot at the end.

INDIVIDUAL OBSERVATIONS

  • In Aaron we trust.  I don't know what he did over the summer, but he is now an absolute stud.  21 points.  A tough game winner during which he showed NO PANIC whatsoever.  He played all 40 minutes of the game and turned the ball over only one time.  If he is not the best player in the conference right now, I don't know who is.
  • Malik Hairston hasn't lost a step.  He was easily the best Oregon rebounder on the court yesterday.  As far as his heel injury?  He exploded to the rim for power layups on at least three occasions.  And my favorite sequence of the game was where he scored nine points in about a minute to start the second half.  Power layup and one, then two threes from the corner.  With Malik, this team can be scary good.  And don't worry.  Multiple sources say that Malik did not reaggravate his heel injury at the end of the game.  It was simply a cramp.
  • Bryce Taylor hit lots of big shots.  He is not spectacular, but you look at the box score and see 21 points when you didn't even realize he had that many.  Comparing him last year to this year is amazing.  And its also the vareity of shots that surprise you.  Open threes, drives to the basket, pull up jumpers.  He hits them all.
  • Maarty Leunen is a stud.  How many points did Radenovic get in the post?  Not many.
  • Tajuan Porter scares me.  The play that stands out in my mind was where Oregon had a three on one break and he pulls up for three.  Now, he made it, but he's also shot that same shot many times and missed it.  If you give it to Leunen for the layup its a sure two, and if you miss that shot, a close game like this is a lot different.  Porter also took a couple of other bad shots, and he is a defensive liability.  Don't get me wrong, I love Tajuan, and think that he bring a whole other element to a game with his quickness and shooting ability.  But he has to learn the difference between a good shot and a bad shot.
  • Champ, where are you?  He clearly hasn't been the same since his injury.  We need him back.
Anyway, Ducks move up to 9 and 10 in the polls, not that it really matters right now.  Only thing that matters is seeding come March.

Here is the parting shot of the game winner:


AP Photo

GO DUCKS!!!

--Dave