Before the game, I want to talk about injuries, because three injuries happened in practice this week that I was unaware of before watching the game on TV. Bryce Taylor sprained his shoulder and missed this game. He should be back for St. Mary's on Tuesday. Drew Viney hurt his ankle and is in a protective boot. We don't know how long he'll be out. And Ray Schafer broke two fingers, out 4-6 weeks. Obviously, Bryce is the most important of these players, but his injury appears to be the least serious. After football, the last thing we need are injuries haunting our basketball team.
Looking at the score, it looks like a blowout, but it wasn't really until the last ten minutes that the game was decided. The first half was abominable basketball by the Ducks, as shown by the fact that they were leading by only two at the half. Portland was playing very good defense with hard close outs and quick rotations, but it wasn't really shooting that was the issue. I believe the Ducks shot 50% in the first half. But they missed multiple easy shots under the basket, and consistently over-passed and over-dribbled their way into turnovers. They were also out-hustled in every phase of the game. Their lack of box outs allowed the Pilots to outrebound the Ducks by nine in the first half, which both netted Portland a ton of easy second chance points, and allowed them to control the tempo by not letting Oregon get out in the open court. We were down much of the half, and only some hot three point shooting by Malik gave us the halftime edge.
The start of the second half was absolutely maddening, as the referees had called eight fouls on us in the first five minutes--at least three of which there was no contact at all. The bad calls eventually evened out, but there was a good five minute stretch to start the half where they were all going against us, and we were letting it get to our heads. Foul trouble caused Malik, who was the one Duck really controlling the game, to miss most of the first part of the second half. However, if there was any bonus to the foul trouble, its that some bench guys who we haven't really seen a lot of got some minutes, and had major contributions. LeKendric Longmire didn't get any points, but played very solid defense. Frantz Dorsainvil was a beast in the interior--with six points, three boards, and a steal in eight minutes, and Churchill Odia had easily his best game as a Duck, with five points and three rebounds in eleven second half minutes--including a three with 4:47 to go that put the Ducks up 20, and took away any last ditch comeback chance that Portland had. But it was Malik, with his 24 points, who dominated the game and led Oregon to victory. Next up--at Saint Mary's on Tuesday. They are a veteran team who was picked to finish second in the WCC--so it won't be easy.
- Malik is the man. 24 points, seemingly at will. But it was also the juncture in which he got them. With the Ducks struggling at the end of the first half, he reeled off eight straight to keep them in the game, then eleven in a four minute stretch in the second half to put us up by double digits for good. We were wondering who was going to replace Mr. Brooks at crunch time. There is no one on this team whom I'd rather trust with the ball than Malik.
- Maarty had a disappointing first half rebounding wise, allowing the Pilot bigs to consistently get in front of him. He just plain didn't box anyone out in the first half. To Maarty's credit, he fixed that problem in the second half, and came away with his customary ten rebounds. He also had 17 points, including a ridiculous layup at the first half buzzer that accounted for the two point margin.
- Tajuan seemed quiet, but then you look at the box score and realize that he had 15 points on 50% shooting. Its just that they were spread out and not in stretches, so it seemed quiet. My favorite play was when they totally spread the floor for him and just let him take it to the rim. Tajuan can finish in the lane, and its added another element to his game.
- Kamyron Brown had a double-double with ten points and ten assists. He is too good, and we are going to seem him and Tajuan on the court a lot together this season.
- That said, Joevan Catron is looking damn good, too. He's the big hustle guy on the team, and his two blocks were of the devastating variety.
- Mitch Platt sucks. His stat line--two turnovers in four minutes.
- As I stated before, this was easily Churchill Odia's best game as a Duck.
Let's get the Gaels on Tuesday. Oh, and I don't have ESPNU, so if anyone wants to tape the game for me, shoot me an email.