Oregon Ducks

Oregon vs. Cal could decide the rest of the Ducks season

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Oregon vs. Cal could decide the rest of the Ducks season

Oregon basketball is in must-win territory, and we're for real this time. 

The Ducks have gone from Pac-12 preseason favorites to five games out of first place in the conference…and we’re nearly to the midpoint of the college basketball season.

That’s not good. Not to mention, Oregon is coming off one of its worst losses in Dana Altman history, a 73-51 dismantling in Colorado that left everyone, including junior guard Payton Pritchard, disappointed in the team's regression.

“Right now we just need to get wins," Pritchard said. "I mean I think almost every game is now a must-win. We have to prepare for it at least. Our margin for error is now very low."

Enter, the Cal Bears. Cal is in last place in the Pac-12 and has yet to get its first conference win of the season. The Bears are coming off a heartbreaking 84-81 loss to the Cardinal, who the Ducks will face next. Oregon cannot afford to lose to Cal if they want even the slightest chance of an NCAA at-large bid next month.

Let’s preview Oregon vs. Cal.

Records: Oregon (13-9, 4-5), California (5-16, 0-9)

Injury Update: Bol Bol (season-ending injury) and Abu Kigab (transfer) are out for the Ducks.

Record Watch: If Oregon wins on Wednesday, Coach Dana Altman will enter the NCAA’s top 30 in all-time Division I coaching victories.

Fun Fact: Oregon has three of the Pac-12's top 10 players in steals. Ehab Amin is second at 1.7 per game, Payton Pritchard ranks fifth at 1.6 per game and Will Richardson is ninth at 1.4 per game.

Richardson on the move: In Thursday’s win over Utah, freshman Will Richardson recorded a season-high 19 points while adding five rebounds, and a season-high three blocks for the Ducks.

The Block King reigns: Kenny Wooten passed Blair Rasmussen for third on UO’s career blocks list with three blocks vs. Utah. The sophomore forward now has 122 blocks overall, following a 92-block season in 2018.

Bears to watch: Justice Sueing is coming off back-to-back 20 points games, while Connor Vanover recorded a personal-best 15 points against Stanford. Darius McNeill has 17 steals and 19 3-pointers on the year.

How and where to watch

Time: Wednesday, February 6 at 6:45 p.m. PT

Where: Matthew Knight Arena


Oregon basketball loses to USC: Good and the bad

Oregon basketball loses to USC: Good and the bad

Bri Amaranthus joins the Brian Noe radio show after Oregon lost to USC, 66-49. 

Good news: Louis King’s hand injury didn’t seem to be an issue. 

Bad news: Oregon would have improved into sole possession of 5th place in the Pac-12 Conference with a win, but instead moved down to 9th.

Watch the video above for more. 


Ugo Amadi, a possible steal in the 2019 NFL Draft

Ugo Amadi, a possible steal in the 2019 NFL Draft

The NFL Combine is near. Oregon star Ugo Amadi has been named one of the most underrated players in this draft class, yet, he’s also been projected to go undrafted.

Amadi is one of four Oregon Ducks (Jalen Jelks, Justin Hollins, Dillon Mitchell) that join 300 of the best college football players in the NFL Scouting Combine held in Indianapolis, Indiana inside Lucas Oil Stadium from February 26 to March 4, 2019.

Amadi’s NFL future and draft stock will climb or descend during the week long event that gives NFL scouts, general managers and head coaches the opportunity to evaluate and interview prospects.

His chance to open eyes at the combine begins on March 1. Here is a peek into what the week looks like for the defensive back and what the NFL’s top executives are saying about him.

Ugo Amadi: Final group (group 10 and 11)

March 1-3: Hospital pre-exam, x-rays, interviews, measurements, medical examinations, psychological testing, media, bench press

March 4: On-field workout (timing, stations and skill drills)

Where he must shine: The most important drills for Amadi to excel in are his speed and agility drills. Showing off his outstanding speed and explosion will be crucial because of his less than ideal NFL size. The 5-foot-10, 197-pound safety's quickness is a huge strength to prove he can stay stride for stride on vertical routes.

Amadi’s versatility will benefit him. At Oregon he was the Duck to do it all; playing cornerback, safety and returning punts. His success is tangible; As a senior he became the first FBS player since 2015 and first Pac-12 player since 2007 with two pick-6s and a punt return for a touchdown in the same season.

Amadi’s ability to affect the game and make plays on the ball has impressed… Draft profiles list him as a “ball hawk.”  He’s not afraid of undercutting breaking routes to make big plays and showed he’s a threat to take it the distance. Over his final two seasons, Amadi amassed six interceptions, highlighted by three pick-6s, and forced four fumbles.

His official NFL Draft profile says Amadi “has excellent footwork, understanding of leverage, and technique in man and zone coverage alike. Can burst to the catch point in an instant and knows how to bait quarterbacks into throws within his range.”

Beyond the on-field drills, interview sessions will be extremely important for the Duck as Amadi’s character could set him apart. Amadi received the Lombardi Award for the 2018 college football season; it honors the athlete who most embodies the criteria of “performance and leadership honed by character and resiliency."

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal called him the "quarterback of the defense." A five-time game captain, who shared Oregon’s 2018 team MVP award with quarterback Justin Herbert, Amadi also was an active participant in community outreach projects. He led Oregon’s secondary on the field (career highs in tackles, tackles for loss, and defensive touchdowns) and helped develop a position group that featured three sophomores at the other starting spots.

The Nashville native played in all 51 games over his four years at Oregon from 2015-18.

Right now, Amadi’s highest projection is the 6th round, while others predict he will go undrafted. The combine could shift the narrative surrounding Amadi’s draft pick. Whether it is his 40-yard dash time or interview session, Amadi has an opportunity to impress NFL executives... He could be the steal of the class.

Oregon basketball at USC: A glimmer of hope

Oregon basketball at USC: A glimmer of hope

Records: Oregon (15-10, 6-5 Pac-12), USC (14-12, 7-6)

Why watch? I know it may feel like a chore to watch this men’s basketball team at times. The Civil War loss hurt Oregon’s standings in the Pac-12 Conference, pushing the Ducks further away from securing a top four spot, which provides a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The loss also wilted Oregon’s slim chances of securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

If you need some hope, here it is; Trust in Oregon coach Dana Altman. Altman, who just moved into the NCAA’s top 30 all-time Division I coaches with 635 victories, historically leads the Ducks to more wins in the latter half of Pac-12  play. Under Altman, Oregon has a 53-22 record (.706) during the second half of Pac-12 play. Only Arizona, with 54, has won more games than Oregon in the back half of conference play during that span.

“We are 15-10 and we were hoping to be better at this stage, but we are not,” Altman said. “We need to focus in on the next six games and try to get better. Four of them are on the road, so that will not be an easy task.”

Washington sits atop the standings but there hasn’t been a Pac-12 team to prove domination thus far. Since any team can get hot in the Pac-12 tournament… Why not the Ducks?

High Flying Ducks

Freshman forward Louis King leads the Ducks in scoring with a 12.9 average this season, 16 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in Pac-12 play. He’s scored in double figures during 11 of 12 conference games.

However, the 6-foot-9 forward suffered a hand injury in Oregon’s loss to Oregon State. According to reporters present, King’s index and middle fingers on his right hand were taped when shot with that hand before Tuesday’s practice.

King sat out of Monday and Tuesday practice in hopes to rest and be ready for Wednesday’s practice, according to Altman.

If King can’t play against USC, the Ducks would again be down to eight scholarship players.

Junior guard Payton Pritchard is on record watch. With four more assists (421 current career assists), he will pass Luke Jackson (424 assists, 2000-04) for sixth in UO career assists.

Freshman Miles Norris is coming off a solid performance. He added a boost from the bench, scoring seven points and setting career highs in rebounds (5), blocks (3) and minutes (17).

Trojans to keep an eye on

Bennie Boatwright is coming off a record game in USC’s win at California. The 6-10 senior made a USC record 10 three-pointers and tied the Pac-12 single-game mark.

Wooten will have his hands full with 6-foot-11 Nick Rakocevic, the Pac-12’s leader in double-doubles. Along with his 13 double-doubles, he also has five games with 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds, leading all Pac-12 players.

USC freshman Kevin Porter, who was suspended for the earlier meeting with the Ducks, is averaging 9.3 points per game off the bench.

Shut down the arc

Oregon’s three-point defense must be on point against the Trojans. USC is shooting 38.7 percent from three-point range this season which leads all Pac-12 teams and ranks 20th in the country.

Number to know: The last five years, Oregon is 25-4 after Valentine’s Day in Pac-12 Conference games, according to UO game notes.

How and where to watch

Time: Thursday, Feb. 21, 6:05 p.m

Where: Galen Center, Los Angeles, California


More Ducks:

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

New flock on the block: Mario Cristobal makes it official for three new coaches

Justin Timberlake rocks Oregon Ducks shoes for concert in Portland

Leavitt didn’t fit Cristobal’s vision; A decade in the making

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

Penn State graduate transfer Juwan Johnson is stepping into a prime opportunity at Oregon.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound veteran receiver, who announced plans to become a graduate transfer in January, committed to Oregon and will soon be catching passes from Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. The senior is already on 2019 Heisman Trophy watch lists and, with Dillon Mitchell’s NFL departure, needs someone to throw to.  

In other words, there is a vacancy for Oregon’s next top receiver.

Wait, are you having deja vu?

Probably. The same question surrounded Oregon’s wide receivers and tight ends entering the 2018 season: Who will Herbert sling the ball to?

Last season, Wake Forest grad transfer Tabari Hines was brought in to provide a veteran presence. Expectations were high for Hines, however, he had a procedure performed on his left knee and played sparingly before announcing he'd leave the Oregon program midway through the season. Hines utilized his redshirt, transferred to N.C. State and is looking forward to a healthy final year of college football. 

“It’s a blessing itself just to have the opportunity (at Oregon)”, Hines said of Oregon’s new grad transfer Johnson. “But opportunity itself doesn’t guarantee anything without preparation”.

Hines’ advice to Johnson?

“With the amount of resources there are at Oregon, if you put them to use you should take huge strides as a player and person.”

Last season will be remembered as the year of Mitchell, who had the best individual receiving season in program history.

Johnson could be the answer in 2019. He will enroll at Oregon this summer after completing a communications degree at Penn State. He brings needed experience to the position: played in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran player Brenden Schooler (21 games). His large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon’s roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs. He’s proved he can put up big numbers; in 2017, he caught 54 passes for 701 yards and averaged 13 yards per reception.

However, proceed with caution before you write him in as Oregon’s next offensive weapon. Johnson is coming of a low production 2018 season (25 passes for 352 yards) after a lot of preseason hype (like being named a top-10 2019 NFL Draft pick). His season was plagued with dropped passes and he missed games with injuries. By Penn State’s bowl game, Johnson was demoted to second string.

Letting catchable balls hit the turf was one of the main problems for Oregon’s receivers in 2018, something new wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight will be tasked with fixing.

Johnson isn’t the only new face vying for playing time in Oregon’s receivers room. The Ducks signed incoming freshmen Josh Delgado, Mycah Pittman, Lance Willhoite and J.R. Waters. Any of the four signees could make an impact immediately.

The fresh faces join returners Jaylon Redd, Johnny Johnson III, Brendan Schooler, Bryan Addison and Isaah Crocker. Redd gives Oregon a speed option in the slot and finished second on the team in receptions (38), yards (433) and touchdowns (5) in 2018.

Will the returners figure out how to improve production? Will there be one fresh face to become an Oregon household name in 2019?

Hines says he’s looking forward to current players on the roster who could emerge this season. Specifically he mentioned the trio of Addison, Crocker and Johnson III, who he says have been “waiting for their moment”.

The moment has arrived and Juwan Johnson is the newest (and biggest) receiver to join the fight for playing time.

New flock on the block: Mario Cristobal makes it official for three new coaches

Oregon Football

New flock on the block: Mario Cristobal makes it official for three new coaches

Mario Cristobal has made it official: Jovon Bouknight, Ken Wilson, and Kenny Sanders are apart of the Oregon football family.

After the departure of Michael Johnson (two seasons coaching the Ducks wide receivers) and Jim Leavitt (who never quite fit the Cristobal mold), Cristobal welcomes in three new faces to his coaching staff.   

Let’s take a deeper look at these new additions.

Jovon Bouknight: wide receivers

It was a season plagued by drops for the Oregon Ducks wide receiver corp. Besides junior Dillon Mitchell, who declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, there were glimpses of potential by his supporting cast of Jaylon Redd, Johnny Johnson and Brenden Schooler. 

With former coach Michael Johnson now with the Bulldogs at Mississippi State, Bouknight will have an opportunity to coach this group as well as the young stars coming in and Oregon’s new graduate transfer Juwan Johnson. 

Bouknight spent a majority of his coaching career at Utah State (10 years) before a quick stint with Texas Tech. His tenure at Utah State coincided with the program's most-successful stretch in school history as the Aggies reached seven bowl games in a span of eight years and claimed the 2012 Western Athletic Conference title. 

Cristobal says, “Jovon is a tireless worker who brings passion, energy and commitment to our staff. His experience as a player and ability to teach the game will make him a great mentor for our wide receivers. Jovon has built a reputation as a great recruiter and his familiarity with the West Coast will help us to continue to bring elite talent to the University of Oregon.”

This position needs a strong turnaround next season. Who will be Justin Herbert’s new go-to guy? Will Redd continue to get better and better or will a fresh face be the next great Ducks receiver?

Ken Wilson: inside linebackers

The third coach to be hired away from Washington State University (Joe Salave’a and Jim Mastro), Wilson will fit with the other Oregon coaches nicely. If Cristobal wanted a guy with experience, he got his man in Wilson.

Owning nearly 30 years of coaching experience, Wilson spent 19 years on the Nevada staff, which included five seasons as associate head coach and four as defensive coordinator, before his six seasons (2013-18) at Washington State. He has been part of 16 teams that have advanced to a bowl game, including 13 of the last 14 years.

After stud linebacker Troy Dye announced he would return to Oregon for his senior season following Oregon’s 7-6 Redbox Bowl win over Michigan State, Wilson will have the player leadership he needs through Dye to help bridge that player-coach relationship. 

Cristobal says, “Ken has worked extensively with inside and outside linebackers and brings a complete body of work to the defensive side of the ball. He has developed NFL players at several positions and I can’t wait for him to get to work with our guys. He already has great connections with our staff, and I have no doubt he will make an immediate impact on our program.”

Kenny Sanders: recruiting

Arguably one of the biggest, least recognized pieces to the entirety that is college football. If there is anything that Cristobal looks for when hiring a new coach, recruiting power has to be one of them. It allows a coach to expand their program not just within their state but nation wide. Cristobal has been recruiting high school players from all over the country (recently three new signees: Utah, Alabama, and Florida).

Sanders arrives after spending the last five years as the assistant director of player personnel at Penn State. He helped the Nittany Lions land five consecutive recruiting classes ranked in the top 20 nationally, highlighted by the country’s No. 6 class in 2018.

Cristobal says, “Kenny’s experience in the NFL and the collegiate level combined with his commitment to those he works with make him the right leader for our recruiting department. He has a great feel as an evaluator, but, more importantly, a professionalism and demeanor that allow him to forge great relationships with prospects and their families.”

Justin Timberlake rocks Oregon Ducks shoes for concert in Portland

98.7 the bull

Justin Timberlake rocks Oregon Ducks shoes for concert in Portland

Justin Timberlake returned to Portland for the first time in four years and he performed in Oregon Ducks sneakers. Timberlake wore the Oregon Air Jordan 3 TH during his 'Man of the Woods' tour to the Moda Center in Portland on Monday night.

Timberlake also worked with Nike designer Tinker Hatfield on a limited-edition Air Jordan III JTH collection for his tour

Beavers sweep Ducks as time winds down for Oregon basketball

Beavers sweep Ducks as time winds down for Oregon basketball

There wasn’t a fan in orange and black without a smile after Oregon State beat rival Oregon, 72-57, in front of a sold out, frenzied 9,301 crowd and improved to second in the Pac-12 Conference.

Following the Beavers’ first Civil War sweep since the 2009-10 season, OSU players hooted in the locker room and fifth year coach Wayne Tinkle walked down the hallway of Gill Coliseum high-fiving everyone in sight.

There was no high fives on other side of hallway as the Ducks (15-10) fell to 6-6 in conference play.

Oregon coach Dana Altman and redshirt senior Paul White spoke to the media with heads bowed, laying out all the reasons why the Ducks’ didn’t find success. To name a few; committing 18 turnovers, allowing OSU(16-8, 8-4 Pac-12) to shoot 49 percent and a 9-0 run to open the second half.

In a game where long scoring droughts plagued the Ducks, White pointed to his team’s concentration and motivation.

“We lost this game because we lost focus,” White, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds, said. “First half we did a good job. The second half we gave them too many easy baskets and it bit us in the butt."

The loss was freshman Louis King’s first, and possibly last, game in Corvallis. King finished 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, with 20 points and added a team-high eight rebounds.

Oregon desperately needed more production from junior Payton Pritchard and sophomore Kenny Wooten. Coming off of back-to-back 20 point games, against the Beavers, Pritchard shot just four times and scored only four points.

“We didn’t get him enough shots and that’s my fault," Altman said of UO’s point guard. "We need to get him more shots. He’s got to shoot the ball more than four times, and that’s my fault. That’s poor coaching."

Wooten, who battled an illness this week, was a non-factor, scoring four points with two rebounds and zero blocks.

Time is running low for the Ducks and so are their chances at making the NCAA Tournament. Oregon has yet to find a formula to win on the road and four of its final six games are away games, starting on Thursday at USC.

The loss hurt Oregon’s standings in the Pac-12, pushing the Ducks further away from securing a top four spot, which provides a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

Like White, Altman also attributes Oregon’s inconsistency to its motivation. "I think we are talented enough (to win the Pac-12 Tournament) but we need to be much more disciplined," Altman said.

The more focused team won the Civil War series, but Oregon’s next six games and beyond are still up for grabs.

What won the game for Oregon didn’t show up on the stat line

What won the game for Oregon didn’t show up on the stat line

The first chapter of the women’s Civil War was everything and more for the basketball fan: Two top-10 teams battling it out in front of a sellout 12,364 crowd at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon. No. 3 vs. No. 9 ranked in the nation but also the top teams leading the way in the Pac-12 conference.  

While the box score shows a dominant Ducks performance from the trifecta scoring trio of Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, and Satou Sabally (scored 68 of the Ducks’ 77 total points), this game came down to defense and specifically that of Maite Cazorla.

One of two seniors on this Oregon squad, Cazorla has seen the works at Oregon. From her freshman year getting blown out in the Civil War in front of 900 fans and probably not sporting LeBron’s latest shoe, to four years later as the No. 3 ranked team in the country, in front of a sellout crowd, and the culture surround women’s basketball in Eugene exploding. Cazorla’s work has not gone unnoticed.

Chapter one of Civil War weekend didn’t go as she planned as her stat on Friday night line wasn’t impressive: finishing with just two points, three assists, and one rebound. She did not make a shot from the field and her two points came off free throws. Cazorla has been averaging 10.0 points and 4.9 assists per game this season.

But what doesn’t show up on the stat line is what won the game for Oregon: her defense and particularly on Oregon State star guard Destiny Slocum. Late in the game, Oregon State zeroed in on the Ducks’ lead to within four points with just over five minutes to go. This was Destiny Slocum time.

However, Cazorla was the obstacle Slocum could not get around. It was if Cazorla was in her mind, knowing exactly what her next move would be before she did. Every time Slocum made a shifty move to the hoop, Cazorla was there.

“Maite’s defense in that second half basically won us the game,” says Ionescu following the game. “She took Slocum completely out of what she did and Slocum is one of the best and quickest point guards in the country.” 

Slocum’s last basket came at with 5:20 left to play. She wouldn’t score from the field again. Just four free throws. But at that point, it was too late. The Ducks took chapter one of the Civil War with a 77-68 victory at home over Oregon State.

This wasn’t the first time Cazorla bodied up against Slocum either. Slocum began her collegiate career at the University of Maryland where they met the Ducks in the regional championship of the NCAA tournament. Oregon went on to beat Maryland 77-63, but little did they know that they would run into the speedy Slocum once more, this time in conference play two years later. 

Cazorla rose to the challenge once again. And she will have to do so again in just three days when Oregon faces Oregon State in chapter two of this Civil War weekend on Monday night, this time in Beaver territory. 

Rapid Reaction: 3 quick takeaways from Oregon’s Civil War victory over Oregon State


Rapid Reaction: 3 quick takeaways from Oregon’s Civil War victory over Oregon State

Two top-10 teams; leaders of the Pac-12 conference; sellout crowd of over 12,000 fans at Matthew Knight Arena. This was gearing up for a Civil War of the ages and it did not disappoint. 

It was close until the clock hit 00:00. Each team following the other with a run of their own. 

But in the end, it was all Ducks. The trifecta of Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, and Satou Sabally combined for 68 of the Ducks’ 77 total points and shot 53% from behind the arc as a team. No. 3 Oregon (24-1, 13-0 Pac-12) defeats No. 9 in-state rival Oregon State (20-5, 10-3 Pac-12) 77-68 in round one of Civil War weekend.

Here are some quick thoughts from Ashley Young, our reporter on site:

1. The battle down low: The impact Oregon State forward Joanna Grymek had on Ruthy Hebard was night and day. When Grymek was in, Hebard had trouble scoring down low. But with Grymek out, Hebard went back to her old ways of high percentage, one-dribble to the right, down low shots. Even with Hebard’s 21 points, the Beavers won the battle down low scoring 36 of their 68 total points in the paint.

2. Three-point percentage: Both Oregon and Oregon State lead the nation at three-point percentage, so whichever team could hit more three’s would build a nice lead. For Oregon, this is where Satou Sabally shined. The sophomore is Oregon’s leading scorer mostly due to her impact from three-point range. Sabally finished with 18 points, hitting five-of-seven from deep.

3. Pick-n-roll game: Ionescu and Hebard are two of the best in the country at the pick-n-roll. With under seven minutes to go and a six to ten point lead, the Ducks went with their bread and butter with the pick and roll game. The two are comfortable with one another and is almost impossible to stop. With Maite Cazorla and Erin Boley struggling on the offensive side of the ball, Ionescu and Hebard had to step up and be efficient. Hebard had two layups off the pick-n-roll while Ionescu sunk three jump shots. 

Round two of the Civil War continues on Monday in Corvallis, Oregon. Tipoff set for 6 PM (PT).