Oregon Ducks

Gonzaga and Mark Few fail to close in historic season, lose 71-65 to North Carolina

Gonzaga and Mark Few fail to close in historic season, lose 71-65 to North Carolina

GLENDALE, Ariz - Gonzaga coach Mark Few came so close to bringing a national championship to the Pacific Northwest, an area the Creswell, Ore., native has called home his entire life. 

But in the final minutes of Monday night's national championship game, his Bulldogs couldn't quite find the mettle to overcome a North Carolina team that forcibly, but narrowly, tiptoed through the best the Northwest had to offer during the Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium. 

The No. 1 Tar Heels, who rank among the bluest of blue bloods this sport has to offer, won their sixth national title, 71-65, just two nights after escaping, 77-76 over Oregon, Few's alma mater and the last Northwest program to win a national (1939). 

The heartbreak following the loss was real for Few and his team. This was Gonzaga's chance to do something many thought was close to impossible - win a national title as a mid-major out of the WCC

“I’m hoping it will settle in and we will feel better tomorrow and in the days to come," Few said. "It doesn’t feel that great right now for a couple reasons. You’re right there on the brink of a national championship. You want to give that to your team and your program. But at the same time, the other thing that just crushes you is that you don’t get to coach these guys ever again. That was going to happen whether we won or lost, so that’s the one that kind of really hurts. But I couldn’t be prouder."

Gonzaga had ample opportunity to pull this game out. The Bulldogs led 65-63 in a game that was about as appealing to watch as bricks being laid. In this game, the bricks were being launched toward the rims at an alarming rate. 

North Carolina (33-7) made just 26 of 73 shots (35.6 percent) and shot 4 of 27 from three-point range. Gonzaga (37-2) shot 33.9 percent on 20-of-59 shooting and committed 14 turnovers, compared to a stellar four for North Carolina.

"First of all, they were excellent tonight, defensively," Few said. "They disrupted us. They climbed up into us, kind of drove our offense outside the normal area, as far as our wing touches and our entries. And we didn't do a good job of probably executing that."

Yet, there the Bulldogs were, leading with 1:53 remaining in the game. From that point on, however, Gonzaga appeared to be stuck in mud, especially guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who had given Gonzaga the lead with a jumper. 

First, NC forward Justin Jackson tied the game on a jump shot before seconds later being fouled by Williams-Goss. Jackson made a free throw that gave NC a 66-65 lead it would never relinquish. Williams-Goss went on to miss a jumper that led to Tar Heels center Kennedy Meeks scoring on a short shot to give North Carolina a 68-65 lead with 26 seconds remaining. 

Williams-Goss came back again to try to tie the game but Meeks blocked his shot and that led to a breakaway dunk by Jackson to make it 70-65 with 12 seconds remaining. 

Gonzaga's final possession resulted in a turnover and that was that.  

In Williams-Goss' defense, he did sprain his ankle late in the game.

"Sprained it pretty good," he said. "It was the same ankle that I hurt last game so it was still a little bit weak. Stepped on it wrong and rolled it. But my adrenaline was rushing. Like I said last game, nothing was going to stop me from finishing out this game. So that's what happened."

A lot of interesting things happened for both teams, mostly mediocre. This was not a well played game. The officiating seemed to be a bit whistle-happy, calling 44 personal fouls with 27 foul calls in the first half. However, Few offered no excuses in that area. 

"I had no issue whatsoever," he said. "I thought they did a fabulous job. And I'm on the losing end. And it's just not an easy game to ref. And we're throwing the ball inside. They're throwing the ball inside. Our guards go downhill. Their guards go downhill. So, I thought they were great."

Gonzaga shouldn't blame anyone but itself for the loss. The Bulldogs, like the Ducks two nights prior, blew several opportunities late with their respective games against North Carolina on the line. 

What maybe mattered most in both cases was that the experience of the Tar Heels, who lost last year's national championship game, 77-74, to Villanova on a buzzer-beater. 

North Carolina, who called this season the "Redemption Tour," has now been to 20 Final Fours. Oregon - one in 78 years. Gonzaga - its first ever. 

The Bulldogs could have other looks at claiming a national championship. Maybe next time they will cash in. Maybe not. Either way, this season made it clear that a team from a second-tier conference could compete with the best of the best. 

"How many teams would take 37-2, league champs, national runner-up?" Gonzaga guard Jordan Matthews said. "We broke that glass ceiling everybody said we couldn't get over. Everybody was saying how the Zags couldn't get to the Final Four. So we did that."

And then some. 

Oregon Ducks land commitment from three-star DE Brandon Buckner

Oregon Ducks land commitment from three-star DE Brandon Buckner

Well, that didn't take long.

Just two days after landing a verbal committment from the nation's fourth-ranked tight end Moliki Matavao, the Ducks have secured another commitment for the 2021 recruiting class.

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks land 2021 four-star, nation's No. 4 TE Moliki Matavao

Three-star strongside defensive end or outside linebacker Brandon Buckner, the son of former NFL defensive tackle Brentson Buckner,  has committed to the University of Oregon, as announced via his Twitter.

"First off, I would like to thank god for the position I am in today," said Buckner in his commitment video. "My whole life I've been waiting for this moment. Ever since I was a kid, the game of football has always been a passion of mine. Growing up watching my Dad play I always knew this was meant for me. To all my friends and family in Charlotte, thank you for believing in me. To my teammates, coaches and teachers at Chandler, thank you for pushing me to be a better leader on and off the field. To my Mom, Grandpa, and sisses, thank you for developing me into the young man that I am today. 

My Dad's a legend and I'm starting my own legacy at THE University of Oregon. Sco Ducks. 

Buckner's father, Brentson, was an All-ACC defensive tackle his senior season at Clemson in 1993. He then would be selected 50th overall in the 1994 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers to begin an eleven-year professional career. He now serves as the defensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals. 

As a junior, Buckner recorded 14.5 sacks despite missing the first four games of the season. Additionally, he recorded 25 tackles-for-loss and had 50 total tackles which made him 6A All-Region First Team selection and a Max Preps All-Arizona First Team Selection.

While not having a Clemson offer, the 6'1", 234-pound defensive end had offers from Arizona State, Arizona, Colorado, Fresno State, Oregon State, Iowa State and more. 

247Sports grades Buckner as a three-star recruit and the eleventh best player in Arizona and the tenth best by composite ranking. This marks yet another Arizona prospect that has chosen the Ducks during the 2021 recruiting cycle, following the footsteps of four-star OT Bram Walden (best player in Arizona), four-star QB Ty Thompson (2nd-best player in Arizona), and four-star OT Jonah Miller (5th-best player in Arizona). 

The Ducks continue to recruit at a high level, backing up Cristobal's claims that the 2021 class could the best one in program history.

You can watch Buckner's hudl highlights here.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

What Oregon OC Joe Moorhead has been most impressed by from Tyler Shough

What Oregon OC Joe Moorhead has been most impressed by from Tyler Shough

There are a lot of missing pieces on the Oregon Ducks offense heading into the 2020 season that need answers, the biggest hole was left behind by now Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert.

The Ducks are looking for the next heir to the throne. Many eyes are looking now to Tyler Shough, however, with a new quarterback and new offensive coordinator, Oregon along with the rest of the country had just a handful of spring practices to gel the two together.

In those four practices, new Oregon Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead liked what he saw in Shough leading the offense and recently joined the latest ‘Happy Hour with the Ducks’ with host GoDucks.com editor Rob Moseley.

There’s a great understated confidence. I’ve always said ‘When a starting quarterback walks into a room, you shouldn’t have to ask if he’s a starting quarterback.’ Tyler can force himself that way, right on the edge of confidence and cockiness. Obviously, he can throw the heck out of the ball, he’s a very capable runner, but the thing I’ve been most impressed with is his willingness to do the little things and how seriously he takes the preparation aspect of it. That’s something from spring ball he’s carried on into meetings during this time. 

I think you’re going to see a great combination of physical skill and mental ability and preparation. He’s competitive as heck. — Joe Moorhead 

Only time will tell. 

[RELATED]: Details surrounding the Pac-12 to allow voluntary in-person workouts 

Shough has patiently waited his turn for two seasons in Eugene. In 2019, he saw playing time in five games and taken 53 snaps where he connected on 12-of-15 passes for 144 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Alongside Shough in the QB room is Boston College grad transfer Anthony Brown, sophomore Bradley Yaffe, redshirt freshman Cale Millen and incoming freshman Jay Butterfield. Lots of talent and all with different levels of experience. 

Someone with that experience, someone with that confidence, someone who has done it well at the highest level… It’s magnified because it’s the quarterback position but if there was someone in the transfer portal that would help make the position better, the unit better and the team better, that’s something you have to take advantage of. — Joe Moorhead said on Brown.

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks embrace culture of competition with transfer of QB Anthony Brown

Iron sharpens iron, right? 

Watch the full interview below:

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

How Justin Herbert staying at Oregon will pay dividends for LA Chargers

How Justin Herbert staying at Oregon will pay dividends for LA Chargers

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was a first round pick... last year. But, he decided to stay and risk his status and his health for his team and his education. 

Now, it looks like staying that extra year is paying off for the new Chargers rookie.

Herbert posted more passing yards and touchdowns while completing a higher percentage of passes compared to his junior year.

Oh, and he also led Oregon to a Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl victory to round out his collegiate career.

Being selected by the Chargers at the #6 pick in this year’s draft, quarterback coach Pep Hamilton is looking for Herbert to compete on day one with the experience he has gained over the years.

The combination of size, athletic ability and arm talent (is intriguing,) but more importantly, he's had a ton of experience playing in games. It really helped him staying an extra year at Oregon. He has over 1,200 pass attempts in college and you can't teach experience. When it's time for him to play once he's acclimated to the speed of the NFL game and has a good understanding of what NFL defenses are trying to do, I think the sky's the limit.

The starting job isn’t Herbert’s just yet. 

With veteran QB Tyron Taylor still on the team, it could be a little bit of time before we see what Herbert can bring the table.

Still, the keys to the castle are Herbert's for the taking, it's just a matter of when he'll take the throne for good. 

The Oregon Duck is an icon, while Mandrake the RoboDuck could never fly

The Oregon Duck is an icon, while Mandrake the RoboDuck could never fly

The Duck. He's a legend around Eugene and an icon in the mascot world.

Not only is he loved by Ducks fans, but he is also one of the most beloved mascots in all of sports. 

His countless in-game push-ups, wise-quacks and shenanigans are just as much a part of the game as the game itself.

Oregon Athletics just wouldn't be the same without him. 

As Oregon made its ascent to national prominence over the years, The Duck was there to help build the brand. 

His appearances on ESPN Gameday are always sure to bring a laugh, as is his bromance with co-host Lee Corso, and his many commercial spots never get old. 

Yet, for some reason, the school tried to sweep him to the side nearly two decades ago. 

In the latest installment of "Ever Wonder," we explored The Duck's connection to Disney and whether he was related to Donald Duck. 

Around the same time Oregon and Disney distanced itself from its handshake agreement, Mandrake was born. 

It was back in 2002 that out of a giant car-sized egg in the west endzone of Autzen Stadium, RoboDuck appeared. 

Mandrake was new, sleek, and ready to take Oregon to the next level. 

He was Iron Man, meets bodybuilder, meets college mascot. He was everything The Duck wasn't!

The Duck was fluffy. Mandrake was chiseled. 

The Duck was comical. Mandrake was all business.

The Duck was always smiling. Mandrake always looked angry.

The Duck was huggable. Mandrake was just scary.

And although Mandrake looked like a UFC fighter, it's not like The Duck needed protection. He has proved on more than one occasion that he can handle himself. 

Most importantly, The Duck was loved by Oregon fans. Mandrake was not.

[RELATED: Ever wonder if the Oregon Ducks mascot is actually related to Donald Duck?]

Roboduck, as he was called, was never meant to replace The Duck. Rather, he was just meant to be a secondary figure to build the brand around. Heck, he looked a real-life action figure. The merchandise was going to make itself.

But that never came to be. 

As quickly as he hatched from his giant shell, Mandrake scampered into the shadows, out into the Willamette Valley forests. 

He hasn't been seen on campus since 2003, though the school did tease his return in 2013... as an April Fools joke.

As for The Duck. Like a fine wine, he just keeps getting better with age. 

Tyrell Crosby shows off insane physical feat, is not skipping leg day

Tyrell Crosby shows off insane physical feat, is not skipping leg day

Tyrell Crosby is a big dude. The Detroit Lions offensive tackle is 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 309 pounds. 

While the Lions are waiting for the go-ahead to re-open their Allen Park practice facility due to the coronavirus pandemic, players are finding unique ways to get a workout in. Crosby is no exception. 

Crosby recently showed off his physique in a video on Twitter, where he jumped out of the pool and onto the concrete without using arms. Yes, the big man has hops-- a 48” vertical to be precise.

Take a look: 

The former Oregon standout Crosby was taken by the Lions in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s poised to have a huge role on Detroit’s o-line in the future, despite playing just 26 NFL games while starting seven. 

Crosby established himself as a starter with the Ducks during his sophomore year, but he broke his foot in the third game of the 2016 season, ending his junior campaign. He returned for his senior year and did not allow a single sack or hit on his quarterback for the entire 2017 season, securing the Morris Trophy for the Pac-12’s best offensive lineman in the process. 

Until the NFL resumes, Crosby is staying in and staying safe. In a recent Q&A with the Lions, the 24-year-old said he was enjoying homemade pasta and BBQ, and working out by curling Costco cases of water. His latest video proves he’s also been reaping the benefits of leg day.  

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Payton Pritchard wins Bill Hayward Male Amateur Athlete of the Year

bill_hayward_male_amateur_athlete_of_the_year.png
NBCSNW

Payton Pritchard wins Bill Hayward Male Amateur Athlete of the Year

Payton Pritchard from The University of Oregon is your Bill Hayward Male Amateur Athlete of the Year!

In case you needed to be a reminder of what Pritchard has done over his basketball career as a Duck:

Pritchard was the Lute Olson Award (Top Division I player) and Bob Cousy Award (Top point guard) winner, named Pac-12 Player of the Year and USBWA District IX Player of the Year, a consensus AP All-American, Pritchard was named to 13 different All-American teams and is the first Duck to earn AP 1st-Team All-American honors.

He is also the only player in Pac-12 history with 1,900 points, 600 assists and 500 rebounds in a career.

Last season, Pritchard led the Pac-12 in points (20.5 per game) and assists (5.6) and was the only major college player to average over 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists per game and helped guide the Ducks to a 24-7 record and Pac-12 regular-season title. The season, however, was canceled prior to the NCAA Tournament due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Ever wonder if the Oregon Ducks mascot is actually related to Donald Duck?

Ever wonder if the Oregon Ducks mascot is actually related to Donald Duck?

The Duck, don’t call him Puddles, is one of the most beloved mascots around the country.

But have you ever wondered if he is related to Donald Duck?

He does have that loveable Disney feel and yes, there’s a reason for it.

The University’s first athletic director Leo Harris made it a goal to have an official representation of a Duck as the mascot.

And Walt Disney was involved.  

Harris had a friendship with a Disney cartoonist, which helped him and Mr. Disney reach an informal agreement, which some say was just a handshake, back in 1947 that made the grumpy and famous duck the school’s mascot.

It would make sense that Donald was Oregon’s true first mascot after thinking about all the various battles between him and Benny the Beaver at Oregon State.

Donald Duck has a mean streak in him after all.

In 2010, Disney and the University of Oregon agreed to disassociate Donald from the Duck with both parties agreeing that the current version of the Duck didn’t closely resemble Donald Duck enough to be subject to the Disney trademark.

So, maybe you could say the current Duck is a distant cousin of Donald?

Oh, and don't forget, his name isn't Puddles.

However, there was a Puddles... In the 1920s, "Puddles," a resident of the nearby Millrace, was Oregon's first LIVE mascot.

He made his way to football and basketball games and was part of the Duck sports scene until the early 1940s.

And then there’s Mandrake, the RoboDuck...

In 2002, the school decided to adopt a new-sleeker mascot with bulging muscles.

Mandrake was definitely a less huggable mascot.

He couldn’t fly and he didn’t fly with Oregon Duck fans.

Mandrake’s last appearance came in 2003 at a basketball game, and since then fans realized just how much The Duck could never be replaced.

North Dakota State could upset Oregon in season opener

North Dakota State could upset Oregon in season opener

We are just three months out from the hopeful start of the college football season, and there are still many unknowns for Oregon Football. 

The Ducks finished the 2019 season with a 12-2 record, captured the Pac-12 title and are fresh off a Rose Bowl victory over the Wisconsin Badgers. Oregon, however, lost many of its offensive stalwarts in quarterback Justin Herbert, tight end Jacob Breeland, wide receiver Juwan Johnson, and four starters along the offensive line. 

Oregon will open its football season on September 5 against the FCS champion North Dakota State. But not everyone is convinced a Ducks win will come easy. CBS Sports writer Ben Kercheval listed the Oregon season opener as one of his potential trap games in which underdog North Dakota State could shake up the college football picture.  

Here’s what he had to say on the potential Oregon upset:  

North Dakota State has won its last six games against FBS opponents dating back the last decade. None of them were as notable as a potential victory over Oregon projects to be in 2020 --Iowa ranked No. 13 at the time of their game in 2016 -- but this is still a precarious spot for the Ducks. Expectations are high even without star quarterback Justin Herbert and a home game against what could be a top-ranked Ohio State on the calendar for the following week. To be sure, this isn't a look-ahead game for Oregon; as eight-time NCAA Division I national champs last decade, nobody's sleeping on the Bison. Still, Oregon is breaking in a new quarterback (perhaps Anthony Brown from Boston College) and loses some key pieces along the offensive line. 

While Kercheval credited the Ducks as the more skilled team, he noted North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, who is fresh off a 1,000-yard rushing season, could be the game-changer in the matchup. 

Oregon has a clear edge talent-wise, but the name to watch for North Dakota State will be quarterback Trey Lance, who had 2,786 yards passing and 1,100 yards rushing along with 42 total touchdowns in 2019. Lance is getting some early 2021 NFL Draft buzz as well. On paper, this game should be a win for Oregon, maybe even by a comfortable margin. Be careful, though, Ducks. Scheduling North Dakota State has not gone well for FBS teams recently. 

What Kercheval failed to point out is that while Oregon faces some major rebuilds on the offensive side of the ball, the Ducks will return lineman Penei Sewell, who many speculate will be a Top-5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and Heisman Trophy candidate, as well as key contributors like running back CJ Verdell and wide receiver Johnny Johnson III. 

The defense, however, didn't need a major facelift. Oregon has Kayvon Thibodeaux, a potential No.1 pick in 2022, as well as Rose Bowl Defensive MVP Brady Breeze, cornerbacks Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir and defensive lineman Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu. Not to mention the talent at linebacker in this 2020 class, highlighted by five-star recruit Justin Flowe.

It’s difficult to speculate on what Oregon’s team will look like in 100 days, especially since in-person voluntary workouts cannot resume until at least June 15. What we do know is Coach Mario Cristobal said his team was already developing a strong team culture. He also made it clear his Ducks will be ready to compete when that time comes. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Sabrina Ionescu wins Bill Hayward Female Amateur Athlete of the Year

Sabrina Ionescu wins Bill Hayward Female Amateur Athlete of the Year

Sabrina Ionescu from The University of Oregon is your Bill Hayward Female Amateur Athlete of the Year! This is her second time winning this award!

In case you needed to be a reminder of what Ionescu has done over collegiate career:

Ionescu is the winner of prestigious James E Sullivan Award given annually by the AAU to the nation’s top amateur athlete, Earned nine different national Player of the Year awards and unanimous selection to five different All-American teams, she is the only player in NCAA history (men or women, all-divisions) with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in a career, she is also the NCAA career leader (men or women) with 26 triple-doubles (second all-time is 12).

Ionescu, during her collegiate career, helped lead the Ducks to a 31-2 record, Pac-12 regular season and Pac-12 Tournament championships and #2 final ranking before the season was canceled prior to the NCAA Tournament due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This last season, Ionescu averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists while shooting 92.1% on free-throws, and 39.2% on three-pointers.

Last month, she was drafted #1 overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the New York Liberty.