by: John Chase
The Huskies get one more shot at Oregon this season in an attempt to avenge the humiliating defeat suffered in Eugene earlier this year. Oregon is coming off the highest scoring D1 game this season, beating Iowa 108-97 in a defense optional game. The Ducks have been playing some of their best basketball as of late and look to be an extremely dangerous opponent for the Dawgs as they can compete both in the half court and in transition.
Thankfully for the Huskies, Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox seems to be getting into shooting rhythm at last and may certainly be the deciding factor in tomorrow’s match-up. Tony Wroten will be called upon to attack the middle and open up the perimeter for Ross and Wilcox.
In their game against Iowa, Oregon had 5 players with 15 points or more, 3 with 19 or more. E.J. Singler was an incredible 9 of 10 form the field, missing only a single deep shot. Singler was also a perfect 4 of 4 from the foul stripe. Singler finished with a team high 25 points and 6 rebounds as well as 4 assists and only 1 turnover in 35 minutes.
Devoe Joseph created offense across the board dishing out a game high 8 assists on top of his 15 points on 5 of 10 shooting. While Singler may be the most explosive threat on the Duck’s roster, Joseph has been the most consistent averaging team highs in both points (16.9) and assists (3.2) this year. Joseph’s seniority has given him the experience necessary to compete and succeed in all sorts of situations this year and to me is the X-factor tomorrow night.
As a team, the Ducks shot out of their minds on Sunday, hitting 59% of their shots from the field (43% outside the arc) as well as making a tremendous 88% from the free throw line. The Ducks accomplished this by moving the ball with skill and precision, connecting with 26 assists on 35 made field goals. The only category in which the Ducks “struggled” was offensive rebounding where they managed only 8 rebounds out of 32 total.
Olu Ashaolu has really stepped it up for the Ducks during the past few weeks. Despite his season scoring averaging sitting at 9 points per game, Ashaolu has show without a doubt that he is a force to be reckoned with in the paint. Against Iowa, Ashaolu put up 22 points on 7 of 10 shooting and made 8 of his 11 free throw attempts. Ashaolu is not necessarily a big guy at 6-7 220lb, but he is exceedingly strong and has great footwork that allows Ashaolu to push his man back or maneuver around the defender.
Where the Ducks find their greatest success is their depth of frontcourt. The Ducks feature 7 forwards and centers, all of whom are strong and capable players in their own rights. This is difficult for the Dawgs where the frontcourt is clearly our weakest section due to our lack of depth. Our bigs will have their work cut out once more trying to avoid foul trouble, while also contributing on both ends of the court. The one plus is that the Ducks’ best players are on their wings, much like our own team, our advantage comes in taller, stronger, and more skilled guards.
Overall, these two teams balance out quite well. The battle tomorrow will come down to who can execute better over the entire 40 minutes and exploit their opponent’s weaknesses, while capitalizing on their own strengths.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups:
Garrett Sim 6-2 185lb
Devoe Joseph 6-4 180lb
E.J. Singler 6-6 215lb
Jeremy Jacobs 6-8 230lb
Tony Woods 6-11 250lb
Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
Tony Wroten 6-5 205lb
Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
Darnell Gant 6-8 230lb
Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb
Keys to the Game:
- Rebounding – Cleaning the glass is always a big step in shutting down the opposition’s offense. Rebounds prevent second chance opportunities and open 3’s, while also limiting transition plays and fast breaks that lead to open, easy points. The Dawgs find themselves matched up against a similarly sized team in the Ducks, but overall the Dawgs have shown themselves to be much more capable on the glass than the majority of teams across the nation.
- Free Throws – Put simply, the Ducks tend to make their freebies and the Dawgs do not. Against Northwestern, the Dawgs finally showed some competency. The Ducks, on the other hand, have shown consistency throughout the season, which is a much more dangerous formula for success. The Huskies must capitalize on whatever few opportunities they may get.
- Defense – The Huskies couldn’t lock down the Ducks in the last match-up, leading to a complete blow out. The Dawgs have been playing much better defense this week in the NIT and this is promising for tomorrow evening. The Huskies must play tight defense from the baseline to the half-court line as the Ducks have an array of capable 3-point shooters. Our guys need to lock it down from tip off to the final buzzer if they want to get through to the next round.
This will be a huge match-up. A tough match-up. One that our guys will need to be prepared for. While waiting for the last game, I saw several players show up just a few hours before the game. The majority of the players arriving late were freshmen and bench players, but it was somewhat concerning that our team wasn’t preparing the way I expected them to. Tomorrow I expect the players to be at the game before myself taking shots, getting warmed up, watching tape, etc.
If the Dawgs truly want to scrape something out of this season, they will need to get past Oregon on their way to Madison Square Garden. Unlike the two games thus far, I suspect this will be a close one throughout with both sides throwing punches and going on little runs here and there. I see a potential buzzer beater type scenario heading our way and hopefully the Dawgs are on the right side of it.
Final Score Prediction: UW-80 UO-77