Has there been anything more cruel than being a Duck fan this year? I mean, both football and basketball were on their way to absolutely amazing seasons. And both have seen just colossal failures. At this rate, I don't really see how the Ducks can beat either of the Washington schools, although Civil War should still be a pretty safe win. Seeing as the NCAA factors in last ten heavily, that would probably put us in the NIT. About as great as the Las Vegas Bowl, eh?
Unless this team suddenly find itself again (which is not altogether out of the realm of possiblity), the real question to ask is: where do we go from here?
The answer is that there is no quick fix. The problems with the status quo are several:
- Lack of interior presence has been an issue for several years now. Ernie Kent has never developed an interior presence, and the only defensive and rebounding enforcer that I can remember in the last eight years or so I can remember is Robert Johnson, and he was a JUCO transfer. Maarty Leunen has done an admirable job this year, but he shouldn't be playing center. Platt and Schafer just haven't developed.
- This team is very heavily dependent on the three pointer, and they are a mediocre three point shooting team.
- They don't have much depth and all the starters have played WAY too many minutes.
Well, lets be honest, the reason that Pat Kilkenny was brought in as AD was to get basketball in order. Regardless of how we all feel about Ernie Kent, the reality is that he is not well liked by the boosers, and will probably be fired after the season.
Some Duck fans may be overjoyed by that. But for me, it is much more mixed. Regardless of whatever rumors there were about Kent's personal life, I think he is a good guy. He is also a Duck and I have no doubt that he loves this university as much as I do. He is a face that I associate with a lot of happy times around this program. I mean, lets give the guy credit. He upped the bar in this program, and made is so that seasons such as the last few were unacceptable. He has made us relevant. He has drawn top level recruits. He is largely a victim of his own success. But, sadly, it appears that if we want to reach the next level, that of consistent NCAA tourney team and Pac-10 contender, he is probably not the guy to lead us there. But I won't dredge him through the mud. I think that he has done a lot of good things here and laid a foundation for what will hopefully be our future success. I wish that we could keep him around in some other capacity but, sadly, such divorces always end up messy.
So who do we get to replace him? I usually hear three names mentioned: Mark Few, Mike Montgomery, and Rick Adelman.
Few is the obvious choice. Duck alum. Great friends with Kilkenny. Doesn't really have anything more to prove at Gonzaga. Perhaps he is ready to move to a major conference team, his alma mater, and show that he can build a major school into a consistent winner. Uncle Phil's deep pockets couldn't hurt, either.
Montgomery would be another excellent choice. He is a proven winner in this conference who was able to recruit high level talent to Stanford--not an easy task. And Stanford always has good big men. This would be a very safe choice.
Adelman is perhaps the most intriguing, and maybe has the highest risk/reward. He has NBA moxy, so although he has no recruiting experience, you have to think that he would be able to get top talent. We know that he is a good x's and o's coach. But, unlike the other two, you have to worry about whether he is just holding out until the NBA comes calling again.
Personally, I'd bet on Few coming to Eugene next year.
So we'll have a new coach, and within two years, ground will be broken on the new arena (which should also help recruiting). But what immediate help do we have coming in. Well, our recruits for next year are Drew Viney and Kamyron Brown. They are very good players, but are mostly the exact same player that we have now. The simple truth is that we have no real new big man help next year (outside Frantz Dorsainvil, who finally got cleared to come to the US). So we better hope that Catron is much improved, Platt or Schafer gets their head out of their arse, or LeKendric Longmire turns out to be pretty good. But even if none of those come true, switching to a system that puts a premium on defense and contains lots of motion offensively would bode us much better than jacking up threes all game.
In short, expect lots of changes in basketball next year.