The Oregon Ducks (15-8, 5-5) host the Washington schools this weekend with the Washington Huskies (17-6, 7-3) up first on Thursday. The Ducks look to take their frustrations out on the Huskies after splitting the road trip against the Bay Area schools.
Disappointment is just one word to describe Oregon’s defeat against Stanford at Maples Pavilion. A 13-0 run by the Cardinal in the first half proved to be the deciding factor in the game. Poor shooting and turnovers did not help the cause.
Oregon sits in sixth place after the trip. The best course of action is for the Ducks to finish the season strong and build momentum heading into the conference tournament.
As for Washington, the team appeared set to be in a rebuild after Lorenzo Romar was dismissed as head coach. On top of seeing Markelle Fultz go first overall in the NBA Draft and losing the top recruit, Michael Porter Jr., the Huskies did not appear to factor into the discussion this season.
Instead, the Huskies currently sit in third place behind Arizona and USC and could potentially make a late push to win the Pac-12. Washington upset No. 9 Arizona over the weekend on a buzzer beater by Dominic Green in Seattle.
Success for Washington has come from the new head coach, Mike Hopkins, who served as an assistant under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. Hopkins brought over to the Huskies the 2-3 zone defense in which Boeheim ran.
After going 9-22 last season, the new system under Hopkins dramatically improved the players who opted to return. Wins against Kansas and Arizona State showed the improvements made and perhaps boasting the best defense amongst conference opponents.
Jaylen Nowell currently leads the Huskies in scoring and third on the team in assists and rebounds. The freshman was a big signing for Hopkins after Nowell committed initially under Romar. His decision to stay is paying dividends in just his first season and will likely continue to grow the following year.
Noah Dickerson and David Crisp are second and third in scoring on the Huskies, respectively. Junior guard, Matisse Thybulle, is Washington’s leading shot blocker with 35.
The Ducks must forget about what took place at Stanford. A blueprint for success can be found from the wins against Oregon State and Cal. Ball movement, and transition of rebounds will be critical for Oregon. Also, limiting turnovers could also make a difference.
Tipoff begins at 7:00 p.m. PST with a telecast on FS1.