The Ducks are making history before the college basketball season even begins.
For the first time in Oregon program history, both the Oregon men’s and women’s basketball teams were selected to win the Pac-12 conference this season via Pac-12 preseason coaches polls.
After back-to-back Elite 8 finishes and a Pac-12 championship title last season, the Ducks come into this season ranked No. 5, according to the USA Today Coaches poll. The triple-double queen Sabrina Ionescu and her partner in crime Ruthy Hebard return for their junior seasons alongside senior Maite Cazorla, reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Satou Sabally,and senior Oti Gildon.
The new kids on the block for head coach Kelly Graves this season include Arizona Player of the Year guard Taylor Chavez, redshirt-sophomore Erin Boley (sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules), and Nyara Sabally, the younger sister of Satou Sabally.
One thing that stands out right away is the depth and overall team number. Graves only has 10 players listed on his roster for this season. Should be interesting to watch for especially when trying to make a deep tourney run late in the season.
In an interview at Pac-12 media day, Ionescu said, “I think experience helps a lot. Everyone knows how close we were to making the jump last year and everyone wants it more than ever. Expectations are high within the team as well, not just from the outside."
Now for the men
After a final four finish in 2016, and a rather disappointing NIT tournament finish in 2017, the men return this season with a fresh new look with some fresh new faces. Oregon finishing on top of the Pac at the end of the season may have something to do with the No. 4 recruiting class lead by freshman 7 ft. tall Bol-Bol coming to Eugene. Head coach Dana Altman and his staff have made incredible moves this offseason on the recruiting trail landing another five-star recruit in Louis King, Miles Norris, and Will Richardson.
But let’s not forget about the returners on Altman’s squad: junior guard Payton Pritchard, sophomore Victor Bailey Jr., redshirt senior Paul White, and sophomore Kenny Wooten.
This is going to be quite an exciting year ahead at Matthew Knight Arena.