Oregon Ducks

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.

Louis King an attractive selection for Trail Blazers

Louis King an attractive selection for Trail Blazers

Oregon basketball star Louis King traveled back to the state for a Trail Blazers pre-NBA draft workout on Sunday. It marked the 6-foot-9 forward’s ninth workout ahead of the draft, which will be held on Thursday, June 20.

The Ducks’ leading scorer chose to strike when the iron was hot and leave UO after one season. King’s draft stock certainly climbed through Oregon’s run in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournament after scoring in double-figures in each game and being named to the Pac-12 All-Tournament team. But how far? Is it possible the Trail Blazers, who hold the No. 25 pick, draft King?

The former five-star recruit has been listed as the No. 36 prospect in the draft by ESPN. Most mock drafts are first round only and do not have King listed, the consensus is that he will be selected in the second round.

[READ:Red flags and stress: NBA analyst says pass on Bol Bol]

The Trail Blazers own one pick- the No. 25 overall selection of the first round. While it is unlikely King would be selected that high (although his agent has his draft range from 15-40), the former Duck playing for Portland is not impossible.

When asked if staying in Oregon and becoming a Trail Blazer was an attractive scenario, King responded, “Absolutely.”

“It’s been going great. I’m just excited to come here and compete in front of the front office for every workout,” King said.

If the Blazers trade away the 25th pick for a package deal, Portland could end up with a later second round pick. In which case, it’d make sense for Portland to target an athletic wing player.

“The depth at wing could be a concern for the Blazers with both Al-Farouq Aminu and Rodney Hood hitting free agency this summer,” NBC Sports Blazers Insider Jamie Hudson said. “Not to mention, the Blazers drafted two guards last year, so they would likely bring in a young forward to grow alongside Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr.”

If King is still on the board and the Trail Blazers end up with a second round pick, his power forward size, tenacious defense and perimeter skill set would make him an attractive pick for Portland.

King has one remaining workout with the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to Thursday's draft, which begins at 4 p.m. (PT).

Talkin' with the Ducks: Justin Herbert more than a "quiet guy who can sling the rock" says Shane Lemieux

Talkin' with the Ducks: Justin Herbert more than a "quiet guy who can sling the rock" says Shane Lemieux

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. Joining us on the second edition is the top-ranked guard in the Pac-12 Conference, senior Shane Lemieux. The video above is part one, where we dive into Lemieux's perspective on quarterback Justin Herbert. 

[WATCH: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection]

Lemieux, who has started 38 straight games at left guard, has witnessed Herbert evolve over their careers at Oregon but he's noticed exponential growth as of late. 

"Justin has never been the athlete he is now," Lemieux said. "Especially off the field, he’s such a better leader… He’s always the one that brings us back in."

Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels, has already been pegged as a top 10 prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

In the video, Lemieux divulges that Herbert's personality is different than the common perception. Also, he answers the question, if Herbert had social media, what would his Instagram look like?

Chris Boucher, 2x NBA Champ has a nice ring(s) to it

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Chris Boucher, 2x NBA Champ has a nice ring(s) to it

The 6’10” 200 pound former Oregon Ducks forward now proudly wears two NBA Championship rings on his fingers. And what a journey it has been for the “Swatterboy” Chris Boucher to get to this stage not once, but twice. 

Let’s take a look at Boucher’s timeline:

2017 - Tears ACL ahead of postseason play of his senior (and eventual final season) with the Ducks.

2017 - Goes undrafted and heads to the G-League

2018 - Signed a two-way contract with the Golden State Warriors

2018 - Wins NBA Championship with the Warriors

2018 - Waived from Warriors two weeks after the Championship

2018 - Signs two-way contract with the Toronto Raptors

2019 - G-League MVP

2019 - G-League DPOY

2019 - Wins NBA Championship with the Raptors

The adversity Boucher faced wasn’t just a gruesome knee injury in college. No, it started at a young age. Boucher was homeless, a high school drop out, and JuCo prospect before finding himself in green and yellow in Eugene, Oregon. The Canadian-native 

During his run in the G-League, Boucher averaged 27 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks per game.  He didn’t get his nickname “The Swatterboy” for nothing. He finished his career ranked second in UO blocked shots (189), behind Jordan Bell, who now plays for the Golden State Warriors.

According to spotrac.com, Chris Boucher signed a 2 year / $2,045,649 contract with the Toronto Raptors, including $457,418 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $1,022,825. In 2019-20, Boucher will earn a base salary of $1,588,231, while carrying a cap hit of $1,588,231.

A 6’10” shot-blocking defensive guy who can step back and drill a three-pointer is highly desirable in this modern NBA, and Boucher is prepared to have a long career at this level.

New Oregon baseball coach Mark Wasikowski ready to “fulfill the dream” of the program

New Oregon baseball coach Mark Wasikowski ready to “fulfill the dream” of the program

Ready for a new era of Oregon baseball? New head coach Mark Wasikowski is. The 48-year-old met with the media for the first time after being officially introduced by Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens on Friday. Here are some of the most interesting takeaways.

Former players went to bat for Wasikowski (pun intended)

While interviewing six candidates for the job, Mullens had conversations with former Duck players Wasikowski coached during his time at Oregon as an assistant to former coach George Horton from 2012-16.

His players insisted that Wasikowski cared deeply about his student-athletes, developed them on and off the field and instilled a highly competitive spirit.

Big goals

One of the main reasons Wasikowski returned to Oregon was to take the program to the next level.

"I want a program that wants to push the envelope,” Wasikowski said. “I want a program where guys show up every day to not only beat people, but make a statement that Oregon baseball is for real."

His goals are simple- make it to Omaha for the College World Series and compete for national titles. He noted that when the program was rebooted, that was the vision. "It's time to fulfill the dream," Wasikowski said. The Ducks haven’t reached the tournament since 2015, the season he left to become head coach at Purdue.

Fast Hard Finish?

Although Wasikowski has a defensive philosophy, he also “wants to see the baseball hit into the gaps, hit over the fence." He plans on leaning on pitching and defense as Oregon’s sustainable product while also creating an entertaining product for fans at PK Park.

Speed was a major point of emphasis. Wasikowski stressed the value of stealing bases, and pushing tempo to put pressure on opposing teams.

Fresh slate

The Oregon baseball program is going to get a much-needed fresh start. Wasikowski said players will have a chance to forge their reputations in his eye in coming months. It’s important to note a number of current players were at the press conference.

Wasikowski also expects to complete his coaching staff in coming days.

Talkin’ with the Ducks: Juwan Johnson focused on Auburn, aiming for National Championship

Talkin’ with the Ducks: Juwan Johnson focused on Auburn, aiming for National Championship

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. The first edition is with the largest wide receiver on Oregon’s roster, graduate transfer Juwan Johnson.

This is the final video of the series, focused on the future of Oregon football and Johnson's last season playing college football. As a new addition and one of the oldest players on the roster, Johnson has had to balance his leadership skills in the wide receiver room. 

"All I want to do is win," said Johnson. "I hate losing... I don’t take losing well."

Juwan's goals start with winning the first game on the schedule, Oregon vs. Auburn in Cowboys Stadium in Texas

[WATCH PART 1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection]

[WATCH PART 2: Coach Cristobal's major impact on Juwan Johnson after his father passed]

[WATCH PART 3: Juwan Johnson's pregame rituals, secret hobby]

[WATCH PART 4: Juwan Johnson describes the Oregon wide receiver room]

Red flags and stress: NBA analyst says pass on Bol Bol

Red flags and stress: NBA analyst says pass on Bol Bol

The highest-rated basketball player to ever sign with Oregon who seemed to have come and gone in a blink of an eye. With the NBA Draft right around the corner, there are some hot takes on Bol Bol.

It’s easy to see why Bol is one of the most intriguing players in the 2019 NBA draft: 7-foot 2 centers with 7-foot-8 wingspans with terrific outside shooting (52 percent from three) don’t come along often. In his nine games with the Ducks, he led the team in points (21.0 per game), rebounds (9.6) and blocks (2.7).

However, Rob Dauster of NBC Sports is saying to pass on the former 5-star recruit who has been pegged as a boom-or-bust prospect. Here are the red flags:

Bol’s measurements

Bol weighed in 208 pounds, the same weight as Duke’s 6'8" Cam Reddish. He also was listed at 7.1 percent body fat, one of the highest percentages measured. On the 2018-19 Oregon basketball roster, Bol was listed as 235 pounds before his season ending foot injury. It’s highly possible Oregon rounded up on his weight, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that the 18-year-old has dropped almost 30 pounds. However, NBA teams will want to see him get stronger and put on more weight.

Who will Bol be able to guard in the NBA?

“For someone that can be such a high-level rim protector when he wants to be, Bol is just a terrible defender. In an era where versatility and positionless basketball has become king, the saying you’ll hear in coaching circles is, “You are who you can guard,” says Dauster.

“He also has nowhere near the footspeed or lateral quickness to be able to defend anyone on the perimeter. The idea of asking him to switch a pick-and-roll and try to stay in front of any NBA guard will cost his coaching staff next season at least two hours of sleep every night before a game.”

Durability/Endurance

Durability is the biggest issue that surrounds Bol as he joined a large group of seven-footers with foot problems. He has dealt with various injuries throughout his basketball career and questions will linger until he’s back on the court.

“If his conditioning was an issue playing just nine games at the college level, will he be able to handle the rigors of an 82-game season while carrying 250-260 pounds in an ideal world?” says Dauster.

Work ethic

How much does Bol like basketball? Work ethic and mentality concerns have loomed around Bol since coming out of high school. At Oregon, sometimes he’d float on the perimeter and shy away from contact. How hard is he willing to work to develop into the best NBA player he can be?

“He needs to live in the weight room for his first two or three seasons in the NBA. When he’s not in the weight room, he needs to be in the practice gym, learning how to play and where to be on the defensive side of the ball,” says Dauster.

 

Bol’s talent was undeniable during his short stint in green and yellow. But did he display enough of his immense potential before the season ending injury to wipe away the red flag durability concerns?

Bol’s ceiling is high as a floor-spacing, rim-protecting big man. But does his potential for stardom outweigh the possibility of a bust? And if so, which team will roll the dice on his unique skillset?

A lot of questions and not many answers… Stay tuned for more as the 2019 NBA Draft begins June 20.

Former Ducks QB Darron Thomas back on the gridiron at Jefferson High School

Former Ducks QB Darron Thomas back on the gridiron at Jefferson High School

The outstanding, Rose Bowl winning, National Title contending quarterback is back on the gridiron. 

On Tuesday, Darron Thomas was hired to the coaching staff of the Jefferson High School Democrats football team. Located in north Portland, Oregon, Thomas will be Run Game Coordinator and Strength & Conditioning coach.

JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL:

The Democrats football program has a history of excellence: Heisman Trophy Winner; No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft; A member in the NFL Hall of Fame. But the Demos are going through quite the coaching turnover as of recent news.

The same day, the Demos also hired former Oregon Ducks DB Dominique Harrison as the new DB coach. 

Also, Houston Lillard (Damian Lillard's brother):

AT OREGON:

Just a freshman prodigy from Houston, Texas, Thomas arrived in Eugene, Oregon in 2008 in what would be one heck of a collegiate career for the Ducks. In 2011, he lead the Ducks his Junior season to a 45-38 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin earning Oregon it’s first National Championship appearance in the school’s history. 

Thomas and Harrison join Keanon Lowe (Parkrose High School) as other former Oregon Ducks to coach in the greater Portland High School scene. 

Official: Oregon baseball hires new coach

Official: Oregon baseball hires new coach

After parting ways with former coach George Horton, Oregon baseball has found their new head coach... and you may already know him. 

The following is from the UO athletic department:

EUGENE, Ore. –University of Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens announced today that Mark Wasikowski has been named the head baseball coach for the Ducks. Wasikowski has served as the head coach at Purdue University for the last three seasons (2017-19) and was an assistant coach at Oregon the previous five seasons (2012-16).

“We are excited to add a high-energy and experienced coach in Mark to lead our baseball program,” Mullens said. “He has an outstanding work ethic and a track record as an excellent recruiter, and we expect to compete for championships under his leadership. Mark has a wide breadth of experience in both the Pac-12 and beyond, and we are confident that the success on the horizon as well as his high level of engagement will provide a first-class experience for our baseball student-athletes.”

Wasikowski led Purdue to a 39-win season in 2018, leading the Boilermakers to only the third NCAA Regional appearance in school history and only the second since 1982. The 2018 Purdue team won 22 of its last 27 regular season games, including a 13-game winning streak, and finished second in the Big Ten both during the regular season and the postseason conference tournament.

“I am honored and humbled to have this opportunity from Rob Mullens, Eric Roedl and the University of Oregon administration,” Wasikowski said. “Roughly 12 years ago, a dream and a vision from Pat Kilkenny, Joe Giansante, and Hall of Fame coach George Horton started the Oregon baseball program. The program literally started from scratch and is now in a solid position moving forward. We will not shy away from the goal of playing for and winning a National Championship, as challenging as that will be. My family and I are thrilled for the opportunity in Eugene, and I can’t wait to get to work. Go Ducks!”

During his first season at Purdue, Wasikowski led the Boilermakers to 29 wins, a 19-win improvement from the 10-44 campaign the team had the year before his arrival. Wasikowski is 87-82 (.515) in his three years as the head coach at Purdue, and the three years before his arrival saw the Boilermakers post a combined winning percentage of .272 (43-115). His consecutive winning seasons with Purdue from 2017-18 marked only the second such occurrence for the school since 2003-04. In his first season at Purdue in 2017, the team was 8-3 in one-run games after posting a 2-13 record in those games the year before.

During Wasikowski’s five seasons as an assistant at Oregon, the Ducks compiled a 205-106 (.659) record and advanced to postseason play four times, including the 2012 Super Regionals. UO averaged 41 wins during that stretch, with three seasons of 40-plus wins that included a school-record 48 victories in 2013. From 2012-15 the Ducks won 176 games, tied for the sixth-most in the nation during that four-year span.

The starting third baseman and a captain of the 1992 Pepperdine national championship team, Wasikowski began his coaching career as a student assistant for the Waves in 1994. In addition to his stint with the Ducks, he served as an assistant coach under Andy Lopez at Arizona for 10 seasons (2002-11) and at Florida for three years (1999-2001). Wasikowski also spent two seasons (1997-1998) at Southeast Missouri State. The teams for whom he has coached have appeared in a Regional Tournament in 15 of his 23 seasons.

Wasikowski is married to Lori Jo, and the couple has two daughters, Joelle and Kelsey.

Talkin’ with the Ducks: Juwan Johnson describes "competitive" wide receiver room

Talkin’ with the Ducks: Juwan Johnson describes "competitive" wide receiver room

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. The first edition is with the largest wide receiver on Oregon’s roster, graduate transfer Juwan Johnson.

As a new addition and one of the oldest players on the roster, Johnson has an interesting perspective on the Oregon wide receiver room. 

Does it feel like a good problem to have so many receivers vying for playing time and Justin Herbert’s passes?

"It’s a very good problem," Johnson said. "It doesn’t create tension but it definitely creates competition in the room. The last thing you need is a receiver feeling comfortable in his position. I came here to play… I expect everyone else to elevate their game because I’m here, the freshman that are coming in or the old guys who are improving their game."

[WATCH PART 1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection]

[WATCH PART 2: Coach Cristobal's major impact on Juwan Johnson after his father passed]

[WATCH PART 3: Juwan Johnson's pregame rituals, secret hobby]