Oregon Ducks

Five musts for Oregon Ducks to contend: 3. WR Darren Carrington Jr. must be special

Five musts for Oregon Ducks to contend: 3. WR Darren Carrington Jr. must be special

The Oregon Ducks will enter the 2016 season with more uncertainty surrounding the program than it has seen since 2009 when former coach Chip Kelly took over for Mike Bellotti. UO went 9-4 last season, the program's worst since 2007 (9-4). This week we will take a look at five things that must go right in order for the Ducks to avoid another 9-win season (or worse), win the Pac-12 championship and contend for a national playoff berth. 

No. 3:  Wide receiver Darrington Carrington Jr. must be special.

The situation: Oregon has had some very good receivers over the years. 

Most recently, Josh Huff, Jeff Maehl and Demetrius Williams stand out among the rest. 

But none were ever that dominant, "you can't cover me," future potential first-round NFL Draft pick that other teams had to fear at all times. 

Carrington, a redshirt junior, has the ability to be that guy.  The Ducks will need him to realize that potential in order to contend in the Pac-12 conference. 

Oregon will be stacked at receiver even after losing Bralon Addison and Byron Marshall to the NFL. Senior Dwayne Stanford and junior Charles Nelson return. Redshirt junior Devon Allen hopes to be completely healthy after not behing quite the same last season. Sophomore Kirk Merritt and redshirt sophomore Jalen Brown have star potential. 

But none are on Carrington's level as an all-around, impact receiver. At least not yet.

Carrington began to blossom as a redshirt freshman in 2014 when over the final four games of the season he caught 18 passes for 390 yards and three touchdowns. 

The last two performances came in the Pac-12 championship game (seven receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown) and the Rose Bowl win over Florida State (seven receptions for 165 yards with two touchdowns).  

But just when Carrington's star had risen on a national level, he came crashing back down to earth after testing positive for marijuana during an NCAA adminstered drug test. The results led to a six-game suspension, which included the national championship game. 

Carrington returned to action in game seven of last season and the rest of the way amassed 32 receptions for 609 yards and six touchdowns. 

Over that entire 11-game stretch dating back to 2014, Carrington caught 50 passes for 999 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Fully focused, not entering a season midstream and being highly motivated to raise his NFL Draft stock, Carrington is fully capable of putting up even greater numbers over the course of a full season. 

What he could give Oregon is that true No. 1 receiver that commands being accounted for by the defense as an every-down weapon. Sure, Oregon has had many good playmakers, but most put up numbers by virtue of the offense's ability to create openings. Not to take away from their abilities, but there is a reason Oregon hasn't had a receiver taken in the first round since Ahmad Rashad in 1972 (Patrick Johnson went in the second round in 1998). 

Carrington certainly has first-round ability but his baggage might keep him out of the top two rounds when next year's draft rolls around (Carrington is expected to make this his final season at Oregon). Still, that doen't mean he can't perform like a first-rounder and that makes everyone else in the offense better by being a constant threat. The type of threat where it almost doesn't matter what the defense does, he's going to make plays. 

A potent triplet combination of quarterback Dakota Prukop, running back Royce Freeman and Carrington all meeting their potential would certainly make Oregon's offense a unit capable of leading the Ducks team into contention. 

Now, about that defense...

Next up: No. 4 - Defensive secondary must go from serving up touchdowns to being lock down. 

PAST POSTS

No. 1: Dakota Purkop must be Mariota-like

No. 2: Freeman Gets a December invite to New York

 

Oregon flying on hope and a prayer. Fall 0-2 on the weekend

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Oregon flying on hope and a prayer. Fall 0-2 on the weekend

How Oregon lost: The Ducks needed every minute of a 40-minute fight. It started out as both the Ducks and the Bruins catching fire from behind the arc, each team shooting 50-55% from three-point range in the first half. But then, a guy named Aaron Holiday, brother of NBA players Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans) and Justin Holiday (Chicago Bulls) stole the show. It was one heck of a fight from Oregon to reach overtime, but the Holiday came early as Oregon (17-10, 7-7 Pac-12) falls 86-78 (OT) to UCLA (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12) in Los Angeles, CA.

A valiant second half effort from Oregon lead by sophomore guard Payton Pritchard’s 23 points on 4-of-9 from three-point range and dished out five assists. But it was also Pritchard’s defense on Holiday that forced Holiday to exit the game with four fouls with 11:45 to go in the second half. During that time with Holiday on the bench, the Ducks went on a 13-0 run, with Pritchard and redshirt senior guard Elijah Brown heating up from behind the arc and redshirt senior MiKyle McIntosh getting it done both on the inside and outside. The Ducks defense stepped up too creating six Bruins turnovers, bringing the score to 61-59, Oregon lead.

From that point on, it was back-and-forth all the way through regulation. But UCLA, on its home court and on senior night, took care of business lead by Holiday’s 29-point performance.

What it means: The Ducks will return home having gone 0-2 over the weekend. Before the weekend began, the Ducks sat at the number four spot in the Pac-12 rankings, behind Arizona, UCLA, and USC. But dropping to both USC and UCLA now puts the Ducks in the middle of the Pac, and putting even more of an emphasis on these next four games being must-wins. There are seven Pac-12 teams all within two games of one another. 

Just two weekends to go: a home-stand vs. the Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats, and then rounding out conference play on the road north at Washington and Washington State. And then the mini-madness begins in Las Vegas, NV for the Pac-12 tournament, which the Ducks will need a strong showing to be even considered for the NCAA tournament.

High flying Ducks: Elijah Brown finished with 19 points. McIntosh almost recorded another double-double and finished with 19 points and added nine rebounds.

Foul play: McIntosh recorded four fouls.

Up next: The Ducks return home to host the Arizona State Sun Devils (19-7, 7-7 Pac-12) at 8:30 PM (PT) on Thursday at Matthew Knight Arena.

It takes two (OT's) to make a thing go right

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Ashley Young

It takes two (OT's) to make a thing go right

How Oregon won: It wasn't easy and it was pretty, but the Oregon Ducks managed a huge win in front of their screaming Ducks fans at Matthew Knight Arena Friday night. The Ducks had to fight fire with fire, grit with grit, for a full 40 minutes, and that still wasn't enough against the USC Trojans. In fact, it took 50 minutes, two overtime thrillers, another PERFECT shooting from the field game from sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard, and a few clutch three-pointers from senior guard Lexi Bando for the No. 9 Ducks (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12) to down the USC Trojans (17-9, 7-8 Pac-12) 80-74. 

Oregon coach Kelly Graves said, "We weren't at our best tonight, but give USC credit, they played hard. I thought in that first half, we just didn't take care of the ball and when made them play in the half court, we did a great job. But we can't give up those layups in transition. Or stupid turnovers. Down the stretch we made a couple key stops, and I thought maybe we're the more conditioned in that second ovetime. I thought we looked a little fresher, they made some mental and physical mistakes, and we were lucky enough to capitalize on the win."

What it means: The Ducks recorded 24 team turnovers, gave up 31 points off those turnovers, had the ball stolen 19 times, and still won the game, granted it took two overtime's. Those two statments don't always mix in a positive way. Oregon started off with two turnovers on bad passes down low that lead to open layups for the Trojans. Not a good start for Graves and the Ducks. Oregon had zero fastbreak points compared to USC's 17. They will have to maintain better control of the ball with the season rapidly coming to a close and the Ducks needing every win to secure that No. 1 seed heading into the Pac-12 tournament the first week of March. 

USC gets after loose balls, plays tough, pressure on-ball defense, and tries to get in its opponents heads. And it worked. Oregon only scored five points in the second quarter, and struggled in its final possessions to even get a good look at the hoop. 

Bando said, "They're a team that we kind of don't like to play because of the turnovers they do cause. You know, the fast paced game. But we pulled out the win and you just got to move past this and just be happy with it for tonight."

High flying Ducks: Ruthy Hebard finished another night of perfect shooting. Hebard records 27 points on 12-for-12 from the field and added 10 rebounds. That brings her total points to 86 points over the last three games. Junior guard Maite Cazorla finished with 17 points hitting 4-for-7 from three-point range. Sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu, who was shadowed the whole night, was kept to a quiet 15 points but also grabbed nine rebounds. Bando finished with 11 points going 3-of-5 from three-point range.

Foul play: Mallory McGwire finished with four fouls.

Up next: Oregon stays home to host the No. 7 UCLA Bruins (21-5, 12-3 Pac-12) at 7 PM (PT) on Monday night at Matthew Night Arena.

Thursday was a rough day for Northwest teams in Pac-12 Basketball

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Thursday was a rough day for Northwest teams in Pac-12 Basketball

By Sebastian Pycior

The Washington Huskies season continues its nosedive following last night’s loss against the Utah Utes. In fact, maybe this loss should have been predicted, as the results nearly matched the outcome of the last meeting between the two teams. The Utes beat the Huskies 70 – 58 last night on Montlake.

Noah Dickerson was completely shut down by the Utes’ defense, and the Huskies struggled to find any offense during this game. Besides David Crisp’s 18 points, no other Husky finished with more than 9 points.

Barring a PAC-12 tournament win from the Huskies, it doesn’t look like the Huskies will be attending March Madness this season, most likely finding themselves in the National Invitation Tournament instead. However, this has still been a successful season for this Husky team, especially under the guidance under new coach Mike Hopkins. The Huskies take on Colorado on Saturday evening.

Down in Southern California, the Oregon Ducks tragically fell short of upending the USC Trojans. Tied 70 – 70 in the final seconds, the Ducks trap defense was exposed as USC guard Jordan McLaughlin lobbed the ball to Chimezie Metu, who was waiting in the short corner behind Oregon’s MiKyle McIntosh.

McIntosh came up big for the Ducks, piling up 23 points. Sure the Ducks could’ve played better defense so as to not allow 70 points, but they also were well rounded on the offensive side of the ball. Pritchard contributed 17 points in the effort.

The Ducks have another tough matchup against UCLA this Saturday. If the Ducks can bounce back and regain momentum heading into next week, they have a decent chance at beating both Arizona teams.

As of now, the Ducks might have a better path to March Madness than the Huskies. This team only suffered one bad loss against the Stanford Cardinal a couple of weeks ago, but have largely stayed competitive in most of their games. The Huskies on the other hand, were easily handled by the Ducks, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, twice to Utah, and to UCLA. For Washington, wins against Kansas and Arizona won’t be enough to overcome a bunch of blowouts.

Moving forward, both coaches need to find a way to motivate their players after tough losses. For the Huskies, they need Matisse Thybulle and Jaylen Nowell to start hitting shots from three point range again. They combined to make just 3 shots from downtown against the Utes, which didn’t help opening up the paint.

The Ducks suffered another loss at the buzzer, so they need to take this game against USC as another learning opportunity on how to finish games. Hindsight is forever 20/20, but coach Dana Altman should have had his team in a man-to-man defense through the end of regulation instead of disguising his trap defense. Altman had the Ducks start the final play in man defense, until McLaughlin broke away. It seemed as Altman knew exactly what the play was going to be, since the Ducks reacted to the breakaway on point. The Ducks sent both guards to chase the ball, while having their other three players sit in a zone defense.

Zone defenses puts too much trust on each player’s peripheral abilities instead of just having each one of your own defenders matchup individually. It’s important to make sure each offensive player gets knocked out of their desired path, and USC’s Metu got to the basket untouched after Oregon’s attempt at trapping McLaughlin.

It was a tough lesson today for Pacific Northwest basketball, and maybe there’s a miracle in the works for both of these teams. Both Hopkins and Altman will need to quickly reset before the weekend in order to keep any hope at March Madness alive.

Oregon gets critical win as Pac-12 leaderboard is heating up

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Oregon gets critical win as Pac-12 leaderboard is heating up

How Oregon won: A night of "first's" for sophomore guard Payton Pritchard. A first career double-double, a first collegiate dunk, and all in fron of a former teammate... Pritchard, the Ducks' sole returning starter from last year's Final Four team, came ready to put on a show for former Duck and now Golden State Warriors Jordan Bell. Pritchard leads Oregon (17-8, 7-5 Pac-12) with 19 points and 10 assists past the Washington State Cougars (9-15, 1-11 Pac-12) 84-57 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon coach Dana Altman said, "He had eight assists the other night, he had 10 tonight, I thought his ball movement was good, shot it solid. With him and Troy [Brown], giving us some ball handling, 13 assists between them, I thought that was a big key. You know, making plays for other guys. Payton didn't get quite as many deflections tonight as he had the other night, I didn't think his activity defensively was quite as good, but I thought he moved the ball well and I thought he was looking for guys and really made some good plays."

What it means: The sweep is complete. The Oregon Ducks got two critical home wins against both the Huskies and the Cougars over the weekend and now sit in fourth place (with a conference record of 7-5) in the Pac-12 conference behind Arizona (10-3), UCLA (8-5) and USC (8-5). These two wins were important because going into the final six games of the season, the Ducks are on the road twice, with the Los Angeles schools coming up next. A tough stretch of games down the road and a team that is perrhaps starting to scratch the surface of its identity, these Ducks will be put to the test in each of the remaining six conference games left.

Altman said, "We are going to have to play our tails off. We are going have to have a couple really good road trips... It gives us an opportunity because the five teams they're talking about getting into the NCAA tournament, we got each one of them one time. So, we are going to have our shot. If we are tough enough and together enough to take advantage of it."

"We are making strides and going into L.A. we are going to really have to be to be together," said Pritchard. "We need to win both... All the teams are on a race, so obviously this next trip to L.A. will define our destiny in the Pac-12 race. We're going to need them."

High flying Ducks: The freshmen sentations and dynamic duo (and also roommates) of Kenny Wooten and Troy Brown Jr., continue to dominate on both sides of the court. For one, teams are starting to scout Wooten under the hoop and with his shot-blocking ability and length, by changing up their game plans, Pritchard has stated after the Washington game last Thursday night where Wooten recorded seven blocks. Wooten added three more blocks tonight and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. On the other side, Brown Jr.'s offensive skill is really coming to live as of lately and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds tonight vs. the Cougars. The third roommate of this duo is freshman Victor Bailey Jr., who has been a spark off the bench for Altman and the Ducks. He finished with 13 points. Senior Mikyle McIntosh also finished with 13 points on 4-of-6 from the field.

Foul play: Redshirt junior Paul White finished with four fouls.

Up next: The Ducks hit the road to face USC (17-9, 8-5 Pac-12) at 6 PM (PT) this Thursday in Los Angeles.

Welcome to the 1,000 career points club, Hebard & Ionescu!

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Welcome to the 1,000 career points club, Hebard & Ionescu!

How Oregon won: Sweep complete. Unselfishness, poise, and a pair of new 1,000 career-point members. This was an all-around complete game from the No. 9 Oregon Ducks against the Washington State Cougars. The Sophomore studs of Ruthy Hebard and Sabrina Ionescu combined for 46 points, Ionescu added nine assists, and Hebard nine rebounds that powered the Ducks (23-4, 12-2 Pac-12) past the Washington State Cougars (10-16, 3-11 Pac-12) 90-79 in Pullman, WA.

A perfect 12-for-12 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line for Ruthy Hebard. Coming off a career high 30-point performance in Seattle vs. the Huskies carried over the five hour drive east to Pullman. Her consistency is part of Oregon’s foundation for success.

Her partner in crime, Ionescu was on triple-double watch once again, but fell short by five rebounds and one assist. She finished with 17 points, nine assists, and five rebounds, and hitting clutch free throws down the stretch.

What it means: Welcome back Lexi Bando. The senior leader for the Ducks made her return this afternoon after suffering a stress fracture in her foot before the first Civil War back in January. At the 1:37 mark in the first quarter, the senior subbed in. And at the 1:12 mark, she immediately does what Bando does best: hit three-pointers. Bando played just 12 minutes, but made the most of it finishing with nine points on 3-for-6 from three-point range. Her hot shooting causes the defense to keep one eye on her on the perimeter allowing for opportunities for high-to-low movement down low for Hebard and Mallory McGwire. 

Oregon got it done on the interior once again. 40 points in the paint, created nine WSU turnovers and capitalizing on those turnover turning them into 12 points. 

An area of improvement for the Ducks today was perimeter defense. WSU shot 55% (11-for-20) from three-point range, five Cougars scored in double digits, and let off the gas in the final minutes of the game. Oregon will have to stay consistent throughout the full 40 minutes against any opponent in the Pac-12.  

High flying Ducks: Four Ducks scored in double digits. Alongside Ionescu and Hebard, freshman Satou Sabally was locked in early on. Sabally was a perfect 3-for-3 to start this one off and finished with 17 points on 5-of-7 from the field. Junior Odi Gildon, coming off a nine-point game vs. Washington, had another nice game finishing with 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Foul play: Hebard finished with four fouls.

Up next: The Ducks head home to host the USC Trojans (16-8, 6-7 Pac-12) at 6 PM (PT) this Friday at Matthew Knight Arena.  

No. 9 Oregon sets up camp in the paint behind Hebard's 30-points

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No. 9 Oregon sets up camp in the paint behind Hebard's 30-points

How Oregon won: Ruthy Hebard put on an absolute clinic on the inside. The Ducks made their presence know in the paint and utilized a size and height advantage over a smaller Washington lineup. Swift ball movement around the perimeter allowed gaps under the hoop for Hebard to set up camp. Hebard finishes with a career-high 30 points on 13-of-15 shooting, and 14 rebounds, to lead No. 9 Oregon (22-4, 11-2 Pac-12) past the Washington Huskies (7-17, 1-12 Pac-12) 76-63 in Seattle, WA.

What it means: Oregon coach Kelly Graves made the right halftime adjustments to really open up the second half for the Ducks. This was a close game through one and a half quarters. Both teams got off to a hot start shooting, but Oregon started to let up with five turnovers, most of which coming on entry passes into the inside. Washington settled down and into a groove on its home court. 

But the Ducks went on a 13-2 run to close out the second quarter and took a 33-27 lead over the Huskies into halftime. From that point on, and from those halftime adjustments from coach Graves on, the Ducks stuck to the paint and continued to pound the ball inside to Hebard and sophomore Mallory McGwire, who finished with eight points.

Part of the reason why the paint was so open for the Ducks was the steady hands of junior guard Maite Cazorla, who not only displayed a calm demeanor but finished with 11 assists and zero turnovers. A positive sign for Graves and the Ducks to have such a stable guard leading the charge and setting the pace. She also finished with eight points.

A relatively quiet night for sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu who finished with 10 points and five assists.  

High flying Ducks: Alongside Hebard’s double-double, junior Oti Gildon also got involved down low and finished with nine points. Freshman Aina Ayuso saw some minutes towards the end of the fourth quarter and finished with six points shooting 2-of-4 from three-point range.

Foul play: Ayuso finished with three fouls.

Up next: The Ducks stay on the road to face the Washington State Cougars (10-15, 3-10 Pac-12) at 1 PM (PT)

Kenny Wooten is throwing a block party, and everyone is invited

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Kenny Wooten is throwing a block party, and everyone is invited

How Oregon won: Two freshmen didn’t quite look like freshmen tonight vs. Washington. Kenny Wooten and Troy Brown Jr., stepped up in a huge way on both ends of the court. Wooten hosted himself a block party and finished with a career-high seven blocks. Whereas  Brown found his stroke and caught fire from the field finishing with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. These two set the tone for the Ducks (16-8, 6-5 Pac-12) to a 65-40 beating over Washington Huskies (17-7, 7-4 Pac-12) at Matthew Knight Arena Thursday evening.

After the game, Brown said, “Well for me personally, I felt that it was a great win. I feel like it was something we need to keep on doing and just build on at this point. I feel like the Stanford loss is something that really gave us an awakening at this point in time…. right now we just need to get back on board. We needed that win, that significant win, and we just got to come out Sunday and keep on building from there.”

The defensive effort from Oregon started on the very first possession. Oregon forced Washington into an immediate shot clock violation that set the tone throughout the entire game.

“Our coach told us that we had to work hard on defense,” said Wooten. “So I just tried to give the maximum amount of effort I could.”

One block was enough for the Huskies as a lurking Wooten was ready pounce on any given drive.

Brown said of Wooten’s shot-blocking capabilities, “After that, it changed the game a lot. They just seemed very timid heading to the basket. They were all kind of pump-faking, and it just changed the game a lot.”

What it means: Let’s flashback to last Saturday afternoon when the Ducks were in Palo Alto facing the Stanford Cardinal. The final score 96-61 Cardinal victory, a 35-point deficit, and expressionless Ducks hitting the road due north. 

The only solution to bounce back from a loss like that? Flush it and move on. And that is exactly what the Ducks did tonight. Quite the opposite team play from last Saturday to know. Call it good coaching or a good week of practice, but these Ducks came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. 

Now, the tough question remains: which team is going to show up to each game? A lost, confused team vs. Stanford or an energetic, diving after loose balls team tonight. Consistency will be a big challenge moving forward for Altman and the Ducks.

Brown said, “I feel like we flushed it very easily. I felt like coach Altman did a good job of just kind of keeping us motivated. He didn’t dwell on it. It was kind of one of those things where we know we are better than that and we have to show it. So we kind of just moved on from it and it worked out for the best.”

High flying Ducks: Besides the remarkable play from the two freshmen Wooten and Brown, sophomore guard Payton Pritchard finished with 12 points and dished out eight assists, half of the team total in assists. Redshirt senior Mikyle McIntosh was one rebound and one basket away from yet another double-double. He finished with eight points and nine rebounds.

Foul play: Redshirt junior Paul White finished with four fouls.

Up next: The Ducks host the Washington State Cougars (9-14, 1-10 Pac-12) at 5 PM (PT) this Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena.

The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 6)...: Troy Dye gets some help

The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 6)...: Troy Dye gets some help

Oregon's promising 2017 season ended with a wild two weeks that saw Willie Taggart depart for Florida State, coach Mario Cristobal take over the program, recruits decommit left and right and then the Ducks fall flat during a 38-28 loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Still, the 2018 season could see Oregon return to Pac-12 prominence. That is, if a lot of variables play out in the Ducks' favor. We will take a position-by-position look at the team to discuss what must happen in order for Oregon to rise again in 2018. 

Other position entries: QuarterbackRunning backsReceivers/Tight endsOffensive line; Defensive backs

Today: The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 6)...: Troy Dye gets some help. 

Key losses: Seniors Jimmie Swain, Jonah Moi and A.J. Hotchkins ended their careers at Oregon. 

Projected starters: Inside linebacker Troy Dye, Jr., (6-4, 224); inside linebacker Kaulana Apelu, Sr., (5-11, 200); outside linebacker Justin Hollins, RSr., (6-5, 238); outside linebacker, La'Mar Winston Jr., Jr., (6-2, 214).

Key backups: Inside linebackers - Sampson Niu, So., (6-1, 215); Fotu T. Leiato II, Sr., (5-1, 198).

What we know: Dye is one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12 and easily the best defensive player on the Ducks. He led the team with 107 tackles, far ahead of Swain's 65, second most on the team. 

Hollins came into his own after finally being put into a position to succeed at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense rather than being used as an undersized defensive end in the 4-3 under the previous regime in 2016. His 11 1/2 tackles for loss ranked third on the team behind defensive end Jalen Jelks (15) and Dye (13 1/2). 

What we don't know: Is Winston ready to have a huge impact and who will join Dye at inside linebacker?

Winston, a former four-star recruit, had eight tackles for loss in seven starts last season. Apelu began the year as a starter inside but an early injury knocked him out for the season. 

Apelu has the heart and quickness the Ducks would want inside but at 200 pounds, he is dramatically on the light side for an inside linebacker. But there is no clear threat to his position as a starter entering the offseason. 

What must happen for Oregon to contend: Dye and Hollins give the ducks two impact linebackers, which is more than most teams can boast. But in order to contend, the Ducks will need Winston to build upon last season and become that third outstanding linebacker on the field. Plus, Oregon must find a solution at the other inside linebacker spot. Niu, a four-star recruit last year, is a possibility, but he is also undersized. 

Next up: The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 2)...: Troy Dye gets some help. 

 

In the end, it was all Stanford. No. 6 Oregon drops to the Cardinal

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Ashley Young

In the end, it was all Stanford. No. 6 Oregon drops to the Cardinal

How Oregon lost: A nine-point lead heading into halftime wasn’t enough for the No. 6 Oregon Ducks to hold off the No. 24 Stanford Cardinal. At halftime, Ducks coach Kelly Graves warned his team that an experienced, 2017 Final Four team, Stanford would fight back until the clock hit 0:00. And that is exactly what happened. In the final five minutes, Stanford closed out on an 11-0 run and forced four Oregon turnovers. Oregon (21-4, 10-2 Pac-12) lost to the Cardinal (16-8, 10-2 Pac-12) 78-65 on their home court at Matthew Knight Arena.

Stanford senior guard Brittany McPhee completely took over in the second half. Oregon did a good job containing McPhee in the first half, limiting her to just two points, but McPhee came alive in the second half and finished with 33 points, hitting 14-of-22 shots and 3-of-3 from three-point range.

Sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu said, “There were a lot of things we could’ve done differently, but I think we contained her pretty well in the first half. Our coaches told us ‘She’s a senior, she was going to come out and punch us’ and she did and we didn’t punch back. I think that’s something we’re going to grow and continue to learn from. She had a heck of a game so props to her.”

What it means: With five minutes left and Oregon down 67-65, Stanford went on a commanding 11-0 run to finish out the game. During that run, Oregon was all out of sorts struggling to find any offensive rhythm, committed four turnovers, and along with being unable to slow down McPhee. 

“I don’t know. I don’t know what else to say. It’s not like they pressure you,” said Graves. We just made some poor decisions I think once in awhile. Sabrina is a phenomenal player and once in awhile she just tries to do just a little bit too much and they [Stanford] play to a great scout. That’s the one thing about Stanford, you got to beat them, they won’t beat themselves. Ever.” 

A learning curve that a young Ducks squad will have to overcome moving into the second half of conference play.

High flying Ducks: Ionescu lead the Ducks in scoring with 22 points hitting 4-of-6 from three-point range, grabbed seven rebounds and seven assists. Sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Satou Sabally finished with 14 points.

Foul play: Ionescu committed four fouls.

Up next: Oregon hits the road north to face the Washington Huskies (7-16, 1-11 Pac-12) at 8 PM (PT) this Friday.