One of the valuable things a coach can do in the game planning and preparation process is to do some "self-scouting". Through this process, coaches take a deeper look into what’s working for their team and what weaknesses the other team will look to exploit. With the first weekend of the tournament in the books for the Ducks I did exactly that and came up with a list of positives the Ducks need to carry with them to Anaheim and a few things to clean up before the Sweet Sixteen.
Room for improvement.
Oregon three point shooting. Yes, I know that had it not been for two large three pointers by Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks then I wouldn’t even be writing this article, but hear me out. Oregon has made just 12 three pointers in the two matchups. Out of a combined 44 shots from behind the arc that leaves the Ducks shooting at just a 27% clip, well below the season average. Sometimes moving to a new gym can disrupt the rhythm and the length of Saint Joseph’s could be an excuse as well, but regardless this percentage needs to go up. Brooks has the best percentage in the two games shooting at 40% while Chris Boucher is a large culprit of the dip thanks to his 14% shooting from three.
Speaking of Boucher. Again, Boucher played okay in the opener against Holy Cross with his 20 points. However, a large chunk of that came in a span of three alley-oops where Boucher sprinted past the overwhelmed and overmatched Crusaders defense. That certainly didn’t happen last night against Saint Joseph’s as he was shut down for just two points and four rebounds. Something seemed a little off from Boucher in both of the games, as Dana Altman had no hesitation pulling him in both of the first two minutes in favor of Jordan Bell. Time for Boucher to find the touch from three and the confidence back after the rough game vs. Saint Joseph’s.
Limiting the one-on-one plays. In the first night of the tournament, Oregon combined for 15 total assists. Against Saint Joseph’s however, the total number of assists was just six. Many times things got stagnant for the Ducks offense, relying on a Brooks drive as a bail out. Sure, it wasn’t all that bad of a thing with the way he was rolling but against a team like Duke the ball needs to move around. The Blue Devils know how to suck in and help on defense, meaning that there should be a man waiting for a kick on a drive. The Ducks will need to find that man.
What’s going well?
Free throw shooting. Outside of Casey Benson’s slim miss in the final minutes against Saint Joseph’s, the Ducks were clutch with their free throws when they needed them. In the first two games, Oregon has combined to shoot 38/47 on free throws or 80.85%. What stands out is the number of free throws attempted. Oregon did a nice job in the first games attacking the defense to get to the line. The Ducks will have to do the same to Duke and hope to get big man Marshall Plumlee in foul trouble early.
Shooting defense. Has the defense been perfect, absolutely not. But, the Ducks left Spokane holding their opponents to 37.5% shooting on field goals and 26.3% shooting from behind the arc, which is quite impressive. The Ducks have caught a few breaks with their opponents missing open looks, but for the most part the rotations to shooters have been spot on. Oregon’s also done a great job with pressure defense on the perimeter causing multiple shot clock violations. Oregon needs this defense come Thursday to slow down the red hot Grayson Allen.
Interior defense. When the guys on the wing have slacked, the big guys in the middle have been there to clean up the mess. In the first two games of the tournament Oregon combined for 13 blocks, with a few highlight reels from Boucher and Bell along the way. Bell leads the way with his four blocks while Boucher trails with three. On the flip side, it’s been the Oregon offense doing a great job protecting the ball going to the basket. In the two matchups, Ducks players have been rejected just twice.
What do you think Oregon needs to improve heading into the Sweet Sixteen?