Woo! What a win we had on Thursday. That was a must win game, and winning has several implications:
It puts us at 17-12 overall, but more importantly, at 8-9 in the Pac-10. Win tonight, and we move to 9-9 on the conference season while sweeping Arizona and putting them at 8-10, meaning there is almost no way they get in over us. It also may knock ASU out of the tourney. It also gives us a first round bye in the conference tourney (because finishing at 7 and whooping OSU isn't going to help our cause. We've got to win tonight, then again against
Cal or UWUSC or WSU in the conference tourney. That'd put us at 19 wins, which is definitely on the bubble, but you have to think that there is no way they take less than five teams from this conference.
What impressed me about the ASU game wasn't execution. We were still sloppy with turnovers down the stretch, and allowing them to get off open threes at the end, which they buried. But, for the first time this season, there was a sense of urgency. Oregon was getting the rebounds, the loose ball, the hustle plays. It's as if a new shot at the NCAA tourney has revitalized this team, and they're at least putting out the effort to seize it (even if they're not playing that well). It's exciting, though, because if we pull this thing off, we're peaking at the right time.
Tonight's game is no gimme. Arizona has lots of talent. Chase Budinger and Jerryd Bayless are two of the top talents in the league. And they, too, are fighting for their tournament lives. But they are coming into Mac Court, on senior night, in what basically could be an elimination game for the NCAA tournament. The place is going to be rockin', and the players are going to be pumped. Oregon should win this game, and, if they don't, don't deserve an NCAA berth.
Tonight is our season. For all the ups and downs, all the complaining, all the heartbreak losses, we still have a shot at the prize. And, once you reach the tourney, anything can happen.
But tonight is also the legacy of this senior class. Will the "greatest recruiting class in school history" go out with a mere one NCAA berth? Or will they put together another run?
One win makes that a very plausible scenario. Two wins likely seals it.
One game. One game for the season. One game for a legacy. Make it happen.