Oregon Ducks

Oregon WBB ranked outside top-10 in way too early 2020-2021 preseason rankings

Oregon WBB ranked outside top-10 in way too early 2020-2021 preseason rankings

The biggest question heading into the 2020-2021 season for Oregon women’s basketball is how to replace the Big 3 of Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally?

From the minute these three entered the Matthew Knight Arena building, the Ducks program shifted onto a new path and established Oregon as a national powerhouse. A changed program forever. 

So how do you replace the talent and caliber of these three? Well, you may never, but signing the No. 1 recruiting class including five five-star caliber players might help, and that’s exactly what Oregon head coach Kelly Graves did.

[RELATED]: Each of Oregon WBB’s 2020 recruits wins their state’s Player of the Year award

On Wednesday, ESPN came out with their way too early preseason poll for next year.

Surprising or not, Oregon was ranked outside of the top-10 at No. 11 in the poll:

1. South Carolina

2. Stanford

3. Mississippi State

4. UConn

5. Baylor

6. Louisville

7. Arizona

8. NC State

9. UCLA

10. Maryland

11. Oregon

Other Pac-12 schools to note: No. 13 Oregon State.

Does that seem too low? Too high? Just about right? The hole Oregon’s Big 3 leaves behind is definitely deep, but will it be one that the Ducks’ returners, lead by Pac-12 Sixth Player of the Year Taylor Chavez, sharp-shooters Jaz Shelley and Erin Boley, along with a solid bench and talented recruiting class can climb out of?

It is definitely a possibility with Graves, as talented as head coach as they come, and a solid core group he gets to work with. Graves took over as head coach back in April 2014. He has experience coaching without Ionescu, Hebard and Sabally on the floor. 

Only time will tell for the 2020-21 Ducks.

Sabrina Ionescu explains the worst part of the season getting cancelled

Sabrina Ionescu explains the worst part of the season getting cancelled

Early on Friday morning, Sabrina Ionescu once again did something no one in an Oregon uniform has ever done before.

Ionescu became the first player from Oregon to win the Naismith Trophy for the National Player of the Year.

The 2020 Naismith Trophy winner jumped on a video chat with CBS Sports and the Naismith presenters to accept the award.

This was truly a historic year for Ionescu: First player to reach 2,000+ points, 1,000+ assists and 1,000+ rebounds; NCAA leader in career triple-doubles (26); spoke at her dear friend Kobe Bryant’s memorial; completely changed the game of basketball forever…

When looking back on such a terrific season in Eugene, Ionescu listed these highlights specifically that stood out to her. Typical Ionescu, they are all team highlights, not individual.

- Beating Team USA. Who could have forgotten that? The Ducks defeated the best professional players in the country, 93-86 on their home court of Matthew Knight Arena back in early November. It was only an exhibition game, but it was a win that set the tone for the rest of the season.

- Beating Stanford. Not one, not two, but three times this season, the Ducks handled the Cardinal. Once at home, once on the road, and once in the Pac-12 Tournament Finals.

- Civil War champs. This was a first for the Kelly Graves - Sabrina Ionescu era who had never won in Corvallis. Oregon beat in-state rival Oregon State twice in Pac-12 conference play.

- Pac-12 Tournament Champs. Oregon took care of business during Pac-12 play and took care of business at the Pac-12 Tournament. 

This team was different. It may have started with Ionescu, but the talent ran deep and will continue to do so for years to come. 

When asked what Ionescu loved most about this special season and this special team, she had nothing but love for her teammates.

We were so close. Every single player loved every single player. We played for each other and I think going through those ups and downs of the year, we grew together. And so, being able to play alongside them was a blessing and it’s definitely the worst part not being able to play anymore is just not being able to play with them. — Sabrina Ionescu

Taylor Chavez, Oregon Ducks wonder what could have been at the Final Four

Taylor Chavez, Oregon Ducks wonder what could have been at the Final Four

April 3, 2020.

A date marked on the calendar for Oregon women's basketball and their fans for nearly a year.

When Sabrina Ionescu returned to Eugene for her senior season in an Oregon uniform it was under the pretense of 'Unfinished Business.' To avenge the Ducks' loss to eventual National Champion Baylor in the 2019 Final Four, and win a National Championship.

But they needed to take care of business to get back to that stage, and they did.

Pac-12 Regular-Season Champions. Pac-12 Tournament Champions. Nation's No. 2 overall ranking. Clinched no NCAA Tournament games out of Oregon until the Final Four. Getting a chance to avenge their last season's end was all but guaranteed for the program.

That was until the spread of COVID-19 shut down the world of sports causing the NCAA to cancel all winter and spring championships, including the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, producing arguably the greatest what-if in Oregon athletic history. 

Now, on the day they should be avenging last season and competing to make the program's first-ever National Championship game, the Ducks are sitting at home in quarantine. Wondering what could have been, including sophomore Taylor Chavez.

The season's cancellation has to sting extra for Chavez who had to sit out last season's tournament with a foot injury.

The Ducks were confident heading into the tournament as well since they believed this was their season to win the National Championship, including senior Minyon Moore who was not shy saying how she felt.

When the NCAA's verdict came through and the team realized their dream season was finished, Chavez tweeted that the top four ranked teams in the country organize their own Final Four.

Even people not on the team are disappointed in the way this past season abruptly ended, including Oregon linebacker Troy Dye and defensive end Kayon Thibodeaux.

Oh, what could have been...

Mario Cristobal names Tyler Shough QB1 at the end of spring football

Mario Cristobal names Tyler Shough QB1 at the end of spring football

One of, if not the, biggest question heading into the 2020-2021 Oregon football season is who will be Oregon’s next starting quarterback? 

The hometown hero Justin Herbert is off to the NFL and has left behind big shoes to fill. 

Mario Cristobal enters his third season as head coach, the Ducks are coming off a Pac-12 Championship and victory in the 106th Rose Bowl. They landed the No. 1 linebacker in the country, Justin Flowe, along with the No. 13 ranked recruiting 2020 class. 

The hype is no joke. But losing your quarterback and offensive coordinator in the same year is not always an easy transition. 

Cristobal then hired Joe Moorhead away from Mississippi State to become Oregon’s next offensive coordinator. That's one hole filled. Next up, the heir to the Herbert throne.

It probably doesn’t come as a complete shock to hear redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough’s name continue to pop up.

At the start of spring practice in early March, Tyler Shough was the guy to beat. At the end of spring practice, which was cut early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyler Shough remained the guy to beat.

I can’t emphasize enough how fired up we are about Tyler [Shough]. He entered spring football as the starter. He leaves the spring as the starter. — Mario Cristobal 

Shough was Herbert’s true backup for the past two seasons. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound quarterback from Chandler, Arizona saw action in five games (53 snap total) last season and completed 12-of-15 passes for 144 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The consensus four-star prospect has waited his turn and earned the QB1 spot. Not to forget he is the only quarterback on Oregon's roster with actual collegiate experience in green and yellow.

However, Shough taking over the reins may not be certain as Cristobal has also stated that competition only makes players better. 

On Wednesday, Oregon signed Boston College grad transfer quarterback Anthony Brown.

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

The addition of the three-year starter at BC sowed some doubt into the presumptive status of Shough as QB1.

Not to mention, there's incoming quarterbacks Jay Butterfield, a four-star pro-style quarterback from Brentwood, California, and dual-threat quarterback Robby Ashford, another four-star prospect from Hoover, Alabama. 

It's going to be a crowded and very talented QB room in the fall.

Once football starts up again, this will be a very interesting position group to follow. 

But for now, it is Shough’s position to lose.

Eugene, Oregon is becoming a sports Mecca with hosting the 2021 World Championships

Eugene, Oregon is becoming a sports Mecca with hosting the 2021 World Championships

Tracktown USA will never be the same. It only keeps growing not just on a national scale, but global.

It is a big deal that the United States, and more specifically Eugene, Oregon, landed the 2021 World Track and Field Championships at historic Hayward Field.

Former Oregon Track and Field star and Olympian Ashton Eaton joins the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent.

Here is an idea of the scale of this event:

The World Championships was a plan that was in the minds of folks who were building up the Oregon track program, Hayward Field and the ‘Tracktown’ idea years ago. And so, in order to get to that point, the 2008 Olympic Trials had to be had, 2012, 2016 and now 2021. So these things were all not random. They were leading up to this moment of bringing the entire world of track and field to Hayward Field, to Eugene, Oregon. -- Ashton Eaton

It was not a coincidence. It was not random. It was pre-planned and thought out to have Eugene be the home to such a prestigious world showcase.

It’s one of the biggest sporting events in Oregon history making it one of the biggest deals, I think in sport and Oregon history. Oregon is solidifying itself as definitely a track and field Mecca in the United States, but I think it’s starting to become almost a sport Mecca too where you see investment in these facilities, investment in these global events. — Ashton Eaton

The event will start on Friday, August 6, 2021 and will end on Sunday, August 15, 2021.

If you drive by Hayward Field today as it stands today, you may notice that it looks drastically different. The facility is getting a face lift, which comes at an abomination to some but a positive change to others. Some may even ague that if Hayward did not go through these modern renovations, the World Championships wouldn’t have even considered Eugene a host site for the event.

But Tracktown USA is only getting better and better.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast below:

Ashton Eaton advises fellow Olympian athletes to take advantage of this extra time

Ashton Eaton advises fellow Olympian athletes to take advantage of this extra time

Sometimes, the best kind of training is to re-train not just your body but your mind.

Finding a new way to train for a sport can be high beneficial in the long run.

That is the exact advice that former Oregon Duck Track and Field star and Olympian Ashton Eaton would give to other Olympians who had their Olympic training interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I would say, you have to use pretty much every adverse scenario as an athlete somehow to your advantage. Every step backward could potentially be a step forward. This could be an opportunity for you to really get more prepared for the Olympic Games. — Ashton Eaton

So I think you can use this ‘extra time’ if you will, to your advantage and just focusing on your training and getting better. — Ashton Eaton

You heard it also on the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with Oregon men’s basketball guard Payton Pritchard. Since being forced inside with the StayHome initiative, Pritchard has continued sharpening his craft and doing his dribbling routine in his garage while also running the hills of West Linn, Oregon.

Sabrina Ionescu becomes first Duck to take home Naismith Trophy

Sabrina Ionescu becomes first Duck to take home Naismith Trophy

The Naismith Trophy is finally headed to Eugene. 

For the first time in Oregon history, a Duck has taken home the Naismith Trophy. 

Eric Horowitz of Citizen Watch announced on CBS Friday morning that Sabrina Ionescu has been named the recipient of the Citizen Naismith Trophy, which recognizes the nation’s most outstanding women’s college basketball player. She is the first ever Oregon player to take home the honor.

Ionescu edged Baylor’s Lauren Cox, South Carolina’s Tyasha Harris and Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard for the illustrious nod. 

The triple-double queen is coming off a historic career at Oregon and a remarkable senior year. Ionescu took home the Pac-12 Player of the Year for the third-straight year and completed a four-year sweep on the all-Pac-12 team. She became the first player in NCAA history to reach 2,000 career points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. 

Less than 24 hours ago, Ionescu added a second Wade Trophy to her growing collection of postseason awards. She has already taken home Player of the Year honors from the Associated press, USBWA, and ESPN.com. She remains a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which recognizes the nation’s top point guard and the Wooden Award. 

In her career at Oregon, Ionescu recorded 2,562 points, 1,091 assists and 1,040 rebounds along with 26 career triple-doubles.

Ashton Eaton’s most memorable moments at historic Hayward Field

Ashton Eaton’s most memorable moments at historic Hayward Field

They don’t call Eugene, Oregon ‘Tracktown USA’ for nothing.

Hayward Field, built in 1919 and home to the University of Oregon Track & Field teams, isn’t just recognized at the collegiate level, but on the national stage. 

Every passing season has brought changes, but the two constants have been excellence and accolades. More USA Olympic Track and Field Trials and NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted than any other venue; more “World’s Greatest Athlete” titles bestowed upon decathlon world record breakers than at any other venue; and more incredible performances than you could name in the time it took Pre to run a mile. (Hayward Field history).

When it was announced that historic Hayward Field would be remodeled, there was a lot of emotion on both ends of the spectrum. Some were happy about the remodel, making the stadium safer for fans and spectators, new track and field surface, updated design, etc. However, there was definitely some backlash as well for those who shared an emotional connection with the history of what made Tracktown USA so special.

Here are just some of the highlights:

- Hosted first NCAA Championships in 1962

- Football played its last game in Hayward Field in 1966

- Hosted U.S. Olympic Trials in 1972

- Appeared in the movie ‘Animal House’ in 1978

- Hosted IAAF World Junior Championships in 2014

Former Oregon track star and Olympian Ashton Eaton joins host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast.

Eaton shared some of his favorite memories at the historic Hayward Field, specifically the Olympic Trials in 2012. 

I remember sitting basically off to the side where the 1500 meter starts for the decathalon. I was about to run, I knew I had to run a certain time to break the world record. I was basically sitting in the storage shed with the decathletes getting ready to run. I just remember it being really quiet in there, which is not normal for decathletes together waiting for an event. — Ashton Eaton

This is where things got interesting…

I think everyone just knew what was happening. My friends and athletes came up to me and said ‘Hey, just let us know if you need help. We’re here for you man, we think you can do it.’ Just that moment, sitting at Hayward knowing there’s fans out there waiting, knowing that 1500 meter line is the first place I remember meeting my future wife (Brianne). So many memories just bottled up into that moment. — Ashton Eaton

Eaton went on to break the world record in 2012 with 9,039 points to beat Roman Sebrle's 11-year-old mark by 13 points.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast here:

Insight into Sabrina Ionescu’s game from coach Kelly Graves

Insight into Sabrina Ionescu’s game from coach Kelly Graves

When you think of a basketball star who is the “complete package” there are three statistical categories that come to mind: scoring, passing and rebounding.

Be good in each of those categories, and you may just have recorded a triple-double.

Completely dominate in each of those categories, and you just may be Sabrina Ionescu.

She is the NCAA leader in career triple-doubles (26) and the only D1 player to reach 2,000+ points, 1,000+ assists and 1,000+ rebounds in her collegiate career.

The Oregon prodigy will go down in history.

Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves joined host Jordan Kent on the Talkin’ Ducks Podcast to discuss the legacy left behind by Ionescu, what kind of player she was to coach and how she changed the game forever:

What you saw every night in the game, under the lights in front of a national stage is what we got in practice. She was an incredible competitor who brought “it” each and every day. Her basketball I.Q. is unlike any player I’ve ever had... — Kelly Graves

She was an athlete who hates losing more than she likes winning. A mindset like that is dangerous in the eyes of an opponent. 

She was a great teammate. She was the entire package. I wish every coach had a chance to coach somebody like Sabrina one time in their lives. They would appreciate the game a lot more. — Kelly Graves

The 3x Pac-12 Player of the Year, AP/ESPN/USWBA Player of the Year, Senior CLASS Award winner and Wade Trophy winner no doubt will be missed in green and yellow, but her lifelong dream of playing in the WNBA is right around the corner.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast below:

Sabrina Ionescu repeats as Wade Trophy winner

Sabrina Ionescu repeats as Wade Trophy winner

Sabrina Ionescu may need another room to place all these postseason awards.

On Thursday, Ionescu added Wade Trophy to her long list of awards following a senior season that will be near impossible to forget.

Ionescu joins Nancy Lieberman, Seimone Augustus, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore as the only two-time winners of the Wade Trophy.

The Wade Trophy is presented annually to the D1 National Player of the Year. The winner also earns First-Team All-America honor, Ionescu's third straight honor, headlining a 10-player team that also included teammates senior Ruthy Hebard and junior Satou Sabally (who has decided to forgo her senior year at Oregon and declare for the 2020 WNBA Draft).

Sabrina had another historic season at Oregon and elevated her game and, in so doing, our sport as well. She is an incredibly talented student-athlete, leader and ambassador for women’s basketball. Her mastery of so many skills coupled with her tremendous determination to succeed has excited the national media and fans alike, and has inspired the next generation of student-athletes. -- WBCA Executive Director Danielle M. Donehew

Ionescu finished her career at Oregon with 2,562 points, 1,091 assists and 1,040 rebounds along with 26 career triple-doubles.

The 3x Pac-12 Player of the Year has been named the national Player of the Year by the Associated Press, USBWA and ESPN.com, and she is a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, Nancy Lieberman Award for the nation's top point guard and the Wooden Award. She was also awarded the Senior CLASS Award earlier this week.