Game Preview: Oregon

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by: Griffin Bennett

Who: #19 Washington (15-6, 7-3) @ Oregon (11-11, 4-6)

Where: Matthew Knight Arena

When: Saturday, 4 PM

TV: FSN HD (yawn)

I need answers, and I need them fast. Before I get overly emotionally invested in this team’s run into the post season, I need to know what this team’s ceiling truly can be. Will we lose early in the round of 32, or is deep run still possible? I’m usually one to overreact, but I’m struggling to see a crunch-time scorer on this Husky team. Teams have learned that they can pack the paint with a zone defense and IT and the Huskies think they can shoot their way out of it. The paint is the Huskies friend, but they don’t want to hang out anymore.  The most infuriating thing is that this Oregon game won’t give us the answers that we want. Even if the Huskies win in a blow out, the concerns will still exist. On the other hand, if the Huskies lose I can go outside and walk into oncoming traffic and get it over with.

There is good news in Husky nation, however. According to Seattlecrime.com, the UW basketball player will NOT be charged with sexual assault after an investigation when a 16 year old girl accused him of rape. Hopefully this news will help end “The Distraction” and all of the players can focus more on the game on the court.

Now let’s take a look the game coming up at the new Matt Knight Arena.

Oregon 101:

The Ducks are 2-1 at the new arena since opening it with a win against USC in January. Nike U’s new arena has been the biggest basketball story coming out of Eugene this year. As impressive as their new state-of-the-art arena is, their team has been equally unimpressive. They went through a tough stretch early as they lost 6 in a row, but since then they have somewhat righted the ship and gone 4-2. The Ducks best player on the court has been Joevan Catron. He has posted 15.8 ppg and 6.6 rpg which leads the team in each. He is their biggest (and only) threat that worries me. The next on the list is E.J. Singler who sports a nice 11 ppg and 5.8 rpg which both rank second on the team. After those two, the rest are just good role players. Jay-R Strowbridge, Garrett Sim, and Malcolm Armstead are the ones that you will need to know about. All three of those are decent three-point shooters who can stretch the court.

Oregon has been so bad lately, that after their win Thursday against the unranked Cougars, the ESPN recap had this gem: “… Oregon recorded its most convincing win in Pac-10 Conference play in five years with a 69-43 victory against Washington State on Thursday night.” Isn’t that sweet? I almost feel bad for them.

The Ducks mess with their starting line-up a lot, so I wouldn’t be surprised by and sort of changes. They have a bench that goes 9 deep with all 9 playing over 15 minutes. Role players who start but play less minutes often find their way into Dana Altman’s starting line-up. Tyrone Nared and Jonathan Lloyd seem to be the usual suspects.

Projected Starting Line-up:

G – Garrett Sim – 6’1″

G – Jay-R Strowbridge – 5’10”

F – Tyrone Nared – 6’8″

F – E.J. Singler – 6’6″

F/C – Joevan Catron – 6’6″

Keys to Victory:

  • Rebounding/Turnovers – Same old story, but both have been piss-poor during the last two games.
  • Points in the Paint – Feed MBA the ball early and often. While his finishing has regressed a bit lately, the Huskies best chance is to get him the ball or penetrate and draw fouls. Catron can be a force down low as he showed earlier in the season at Hec-Ed.
  • Defense – Just all of it in general. The off ball and the on ball defense has been terrible lately and I can’t explain it. The Huskies need to get their groove back and rediscover what made them so difficult to beat. I just want to see something positive.
  • Re-birth of the “Big Three” – IT, MBA, and Holiday need to reestablish their dominance and get back to what was working earlier in the season. Their combo of point/wing/post scoring was unstoppable and if they show up, they will run the Ducks off of their ugly new court.

Prediction:

I’m getting wary of continuing to pick the Huskies to win, but Oregon is just terrible. Still, they’re feeling confident and the Huskies are not. This will be the first sell-out at the new Matt Knight arena, and I am legitimately scared of losing to our rival and ending our title hopes. Still, I can’t see the Dawgs dropping both of these and this will be the first step back to the top. Huskies win 78-70.