Well, if anyone was wondering if our basketball team had completed their transformation, Sunday's win over Stanford should serve as confirmation. A few short weeks ago? The Ducks probably fall behind early in the game, and let Brook Lopez dominate en route to victory? Instead, the Ducks toughened up on defense, took Lopez out of the game, and hit the clutch shots down the stretch. Its official: we're good again.
Before I get to the game, I want to say this: to hell with CBS. It may be true that I am the only male in America that doesn't give a damn about the NFL. But, dammit, you don't skip over the first five minutes of a LIVE sporting event to broadcast the POSTGAME show of a game. If the football game runs late or goes into overtime, I understand. But missing the first five minutes to show the f-ing post game show? That's inexcusable.
Stanford did jump out to a little 6-0 lead, but Oregon responded almost immediately. Kamyron and Maarty hit a couple of threes, but Stanford was trading baskets to keep the edge. Then, in uncharacteristic fashion, Maarty got T'd up. It was as if the whole game changed from there, and the Ducks started attacking the basket with reckless abandon. Stanford had to work a lot harder for their shots, and Oregon got layups and free throws. When a thunderous slam in transition by Malik finally gave Oregon the lead, Stanford called a timeout.
That didn't do a whole lot of good, at least defensively, as Tajuan Porter came off the bench, and promptly looked like the Tajuan of old, immediately hitting a three and a long two to push the lead to five. Stanford would counter with the Brook Lopez show, and he had 20 in the second half. We tried to firetrap him--but the double team was ineffective. We tried to zone--but the high-low between the Lopez twins found the seam. Brook Lopez was absolutely unstoppable. However, the Ducks shot well and continued to attack the rim, and took a one point lead into halftime.
The difference between the two halves was night and day, and the second half turned into a defensive struggle. Neither team was shooting the ball well, but Maarty played outstanding defense on Brook Lopez. With a combination of fronting him to deny the entry pass, and playing him straight up outside the key, Maarty was able to limit Lopez' touches, and that more than anything won the game for Oregon. And when Stanford took their lone lead of the second half, Malik stepped up like a leader and buried two threes to give Oregon a lead they would never surrender. TP finished it off with some shake n bake, and great free throw shooting. And the Ducks improved to 3-1 in conference play.
- Is Malik becoming a leader? He only had 15 points on 4-12 shooting, but all of those baskets were when the Ducks really needed them--either to tie or take the lead. His 5-6 from the line, including hitting two of two with ten seconds left, was big as well.
- TP is back. I said before that Tajuan was suffering from lack of confidence, and this is just the kind of game to get him back on track. His shot was beautiful, but it was him just toying with defenders on the drive that was really impressive. Tajuan works so much better as the two guard either coming of screens or on isolation plays, than as a playmaker where he has to set up the offense. When Joevan comes back, I think you'll see Brown and Porter starting, and Catron coming off the bench. If this is indicative of TP's future play, we could be scary.
- Maarty may have been the leading scorer, but it was his defense that was his most significant contribution. Brook Lopez may have dominated the first half, but it was Maarty's hard work in not allowing Lopez to get position that completely took him out of the second half.
- Typical Bryce game. Don't really notice he was there, then look up and see eleven points, five rebounds, and two assists.
- Kamyron Brown needs to be a full time starter on this team. The offense runs so much more smoothly with him in there, and he looks comfortable beyond his years.
UW in Seattle is up next, and we haven't won there in ages. This is our best chance in a long time, and we need the win to really get the mojo going heading into Pullman.