Oregon Ducks

Oregon's defense has potential, for 2017

Oregon's defense has potential, for 2017

It's tough to believe, and difficult to sell, but there is a strong chance Oregon's defense will improve greatly over the next two seasons.  

The Ducks' defense is very young and banged up. While those facts might sound like convenient excuses the reality is that nothing derails a unit more than youth and injuries. On the flip side, nothing repairs those problems like experience and healing. 

Oregon (3-7, 1-6 Pac-12) has been forced to go with youth and inexperience on defense this season because of failures in recruiting during the 2012, 2013 and 2014 cycles that left the unit void of any adequate amount of impact seniors and juniors to lead the way. 

Picking up the slack are numerous players from the 2015 and 2016 classes that are nowhere near ready to carry the load without the leadership and savvy of upperclassmen guiding the team. 

On the positive side, those younger players are gaining valuable experience that should pay off down the line, assuming they continue to develop and learn from their mistakes. The Ducks are set to return 10 starters on defense next season along with a host of others who have made spot starts or have seen extensive playing time.  

It seemed almost inconceivable that Oregon's 2016 defense could be worse than the 115th-ranked mess the Ducks put on the field in 2015. 

Yet, here they are, ranked 127th while allowing a mind-blowing 43.5 points per game.

To put that into perspective, Washington and Stanford are each allowing 17.9 points per game. Oregon's 2014 team that reached the national championship game allowed 23.6 points per game.  

Last year, a young secondary let down a solid front seven. This season, a somewhat improved secondary has played behind an inexperienced front seven that generates little pass rush while also offering weak resistance to opposing running games. 

Next year? Well, the entire secondary returns and six of the regular front-seven starters. For the first time in three years the Ducks will have enough experience up and down the defense to expect improvement. 

How much improvement? Well, let's not get carried away. We're not talking about a run to the top 20 in the nation here. But even a defense ranked in the top 80 while allowing south of 30 points per game would give the Ducks a chance to turn things around in a hurry because the offense, ranked 22nd in the country with a freshman quarterback and four redshirt freshmen offensive linemen, will certainly be stacked. 

Experience leads to better play in most situations, and Oregon's defense should be no different. 

What do the Ducks have to work with moving forward? Let's take a look:

DEFENSIVE BACKS

This group hasn't been as bad as it might seem. A lack of a consistent pass rush in a league loaded with good passing teams has put the secondary in bad spots. Plus, the lack of a run defense has resulted in a relatively low number of strong down-and-distance situations for the secondary to operate under.

That all said, this group certainly has plenty to work on.  

The good news is that everyone playing will return next season other than redshirt senior safety Reggie Daniels, who fell out of favor this season to primarily become a backup.  

The 2017 projected depth chart:

Cornerback: Ugo Amadi, Jr., Tyree Robinson, RSr., Arrion Springs, Sr. and Malik Lovette, RSoph., Mattrell McGraw, RJr., Ty Griffin, Sr. 

Safety: Brendan Schooler, Soph., Khalil Oliver, RJr., Juwaan Williams, RJr., Fotu Leiato II, Jr., and Brady Breeze, RFrosh., Jihree Stewart, RSoph.

Position analysis: Oregon defensive backs coach John Neal has juggled his lineup in order to create depth and now has so much that he now has loads of budding talent to work with moving forward. UO will return seven defensive backs that saw extensive playing time this season.  On top of that, six of the top eight from 2016 will still be around in 2018.

The Ducks desperately need Amadi, a former four-star recruit, to finally reach his potential. Springs has loads of talent but can't seem to get out of his own way and stop making silly mistakes in coverage. Same goes for Robinson. If they can't get it together they could lose playing time to Lovette, and up-and-comer. 

At safety, Schooler appears to be a potential impact player. Oliver and Williams have been up and down during their careers, which could open the door for Breeze, a four-star recruit redshirting this season. 

LINEBACKERS

This position is a bit trickier than defensive back because the linebackers have been mediocre all season long, save for freshman Troy Dye. 

Oregon signed six linebackers in 2016 and will need many to rise up in order for this group to take the next step in 2017. Otherwise, it will be more of the same mediocrity next season. 

The 2017 projected depth chart:

Will OLB: Jonah Moi, RSr., Keith Simms, Soph., Kaulana Apelu, Jr., Eric Briscoe Jr., RFrosh. 

Mike MLB: Jimmie Swain, Sr., A.J. Hotchkins, Sr., Danny Mattingly, RSr.  

Sam OLB: Troy Dye, Soph., La'mar Winston Soph., Darrian Franklin, RFrosh. 

Position analysis: Simms and Winston, four-star recruits in 2016, have great potential. Dye, a three-star recruit, has played like a five-star recruit and future NFL draft pick. Franklin and Briscoe Jr., both former three-star recruits, are redshirting. Hotchkins, a junior college transfer, might grow after a year playing in the Pac-12. 

Most intriguing about Dye, Simms and Winston is that each is 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-4, and either is already packing 230 pounds (Simms) or have the frame to bulk up past that weight. They could form the first trio of starting Oregon linebackers to all be in the 6-3, 235-pound range in recent memory. 

Swain, after a slow start to the season, has been among the team's leaders in tackles the past few weeks. However, total tackles can be overrated when many are made after big gains by the offense.  Moi, now playing defensive end, came to Oregon as a junior college transfer but hasn't always played like an experienced veteran. 

Dye is going to be special. Heck, he already is. But he needs help. Where this group must improve the most is with its awareness. Each week we hear from coaches how mental errors hurt the defense. 

A year or two getting destroyed might help all involve accelerates their learning curve. 

DEFENSIVE LINE

This is the area of greatest concern. The defensive line has been a mess. So much so that UO has been forced to dig deep into the depth chart to find bodies and the results haven't been pretty.

Oregon has played 11 defensive linemen this season that will return in 2017. Eight will be back in 2018. Six could still be around by 2019. That speaks to the youth of the group as well as the room that exists for growth. 

While there are obvious upgrades coming at linebacker, defensive line is far more unsettled. Oregon has needed somebody, anybody to rise up and become a force, but nobody has. Yet, that doesn't mean someone won't. 

Former Ducks, Alex Balducci, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, all in the NFL, were not dominant as freshmen in 2012. Taylor Hart redshirted in 2009 before playing minimally as a redshirt freshman and then blossoming as a redshirt sophomore. He is now in the NFL. 

Oregon needs a couple of young defensive linemen to improve the same way. They don't have to become future first-round picks like Armstead and Buckner, but the Ducks need a few players to emerge with some semblance of NFL potential in order to put up resistance against Pac-12 offenses that right now are running wild on UO. 

The 2017 projected depth chart:

Defensive end: Henry Mondeaux, Sr., Hunter Kampmoyer, RFrosh., Gus Cumberlander, RSoph. 

Defensive tackle: Rex Manu, Jr., Wayne Tei-Kirby, Soph., Gary Baker, RSoph.

Defensive tackle: Drayton Carlberg, RSoph., Elijah George, RSr. 

Defensive end: Jalen Jelks, RJr., Justin Hollins, RJr., Bryson Young, Soph.

Position analysis: Oregon should actually be set at defensive end next season. Mondeaux (one sack) hasn't had the impact year many expected, but that's partly because he has had little help upfront. Jelks has the ability to become an elite pass rusher, but injuries have slowed him down this season. Young, a former four-star recruit, and Hollins are athletic but woefully undersized at about 235 pounds to play defensive end. They need to add bulk. So does the 245-pound Kampmoyer, another promising talent. Cumberlander is 6-6, 260 with a frame to add more pounds. 

Defensive tackle is a huge problem and one of the reasons why teams run at will on Oregon. Manu is solid, but not very disruptive. He needs to get bigger, stronger and quicker this offseason. Carlberg is intriguing as a Taylor Hart-time at 6-5, 290 pounds. Carlberg became a starter early in the season but injuries have limited him to five games.  

Tei-Kirby, a former three-star recruit, has ideal defensive tackle size at 6-3, 315 pounds. Baker, at 6-4, 315, is another potentially good defensive tackle. The Ducks need at least one, if not both, to emerge as a consistent player next season.

Right now, the best thing about this group of defensive tackles is that they are all going to be around for two or three more seasons, which means there is plenty of time for them to improve.

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There is a possibility that all of these young players could fizzle out as did many of their predecessors from previous classes that didn't work out. But odds are against it. Oregon has received limited production from recruiting classes before but never in the past 20 years has it continued through a second set of juniors and seniors. 

Again, this season has been a disaster on defense. So was last year, save for a few games late in the season. But the byproduct is that plenty of young, talented players have received extensive playing time that will accelerate their development. 

That all could payoff as soon as 2017. 

 

 

Will MiKyle McIntosh make an NBA roster?

Will MiKyle McIntosh make an NBA roster?

Forward MiKyle McIntosh at a glance

Position: Forward

College: Oregon

Age: 24

Height: 6’7”

Weight: 240

McIntosh averaged 11.8 ppg and 6.1 rpg in his one and only season at Oregon under head coach Dana Altman.


Another Duck from Dana playing at the next level

Oregon men’s basketball coach Dana Altman can produce next level players. Last year, three Ducks were drafted: Jordan Bell (Rd. 2, pick 38 to the Golden State Warriors), Tyler Dorsey (Rd. 1, pick 41 to the Atlanta Hawks), and Dillon Brooks (Rd. 2 Pick 45 to the Memphis Grizzlies).

This season, it was Troy Brown, who was selected in the first round, No. 15 overall to the Washington Wizards. Although McIntosh only had one season under Altman, he showed consistent improvements throughout the 2017-2018 season. McIntosh started the season averaging around seven points per game and four rebounds. At the end of the season, McIntosh improved to 11.8 ppg and 6.0 rpg.


McIntosh on Altman’s influence:
"He influenced me a lot. He helped me out with a lot of different things mentally. He always talked about how you have to be a professional and he had a couple guys go pro the year before I came. So he always talked about you have to be a pro in what you do and how to prepare... those little things you try and teach us and teach me individually and it helped a lot."


What McIntosh brings to the table

McIntosh is a 6’7” 240lb forward that shines when he gets the ball on the wing. He has great speed for a player of his size, and his quick first step allows him to get by defenders. Overall, his offense should have an easy time translating to the next during.  At the end of his college career, McIntosh shot 45.7% from the field and 35.6% from three-point range.

For more information and to hear from McIntosh check out the video above.


***Trail Blazers Summer League Schedule

Saturday 7/7 at Cox 12 p.m. – Portland vs. Utah

Sunday 7/8 at TM 2:30 p.m. – Portland vs. Boston

Tuesday 7/10 at Cox 1 p.m. – San Antonio vs. Portland

Report: Mike White leaving Oregon softball program

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University of Oregon

Report: Mike White leaving Oregon softball program

It appears Mike White’s run as the coach of Oregon Softball has come to an end. White, who led Oregon to the Women's College World Series (WCWS) this past season, is reportedly leaving to take over the program for the Texas Longhorns.

The news was first reported by Ryan Thornburn of the Register-Guard, and confirmed by Andrew Greif of the Oregonian. 

In White’s nine seasons at Oregon the Ducks went an amazing 435-111-1, won five Pac-12 Championships (2013-16, 2018), and made five trips to the WCWS (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018).

White signed a six-year, $1.4 million deal with Oregon back in 2015, and his success helped lead to the building of Jane Sanders Stadium.

In a statement, Oregon AD Rob Mullins said “we appreciate all of Mike White’s contributions to the Oregon softball program over the last several years, and we wish him the best of luck in his new role… Oregon has the best softball stadium in the nation, the most dedicated and passionate fan base, and most importantly, an outstanding group of returning and incoming student-athletes.”

Assistant coach Chelsea Spencer will serve as interim coach while the Ducks begin the search for White’s successor.

According to Greif, Kentucky's Rachel Lawson could be atop the short list. 

 

Oregon forward Troy Brown selected 15th overall by Washington Wizards

Oregon forward Troy Brown selected 15th overall by Washington Wizards

Oregon freshman forward Troy Brown was selected 15th overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Brown is a 6’7” 215lbs forward who averaged 11.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, and 1.4 apg last season.

Brown earned Pac-12 All-Freshman honorable mention. He will turn 19 years old on July 28th.

Fun Fact: Both of Brown’s parents were college athletes at Texas A&M – Kingsville. His mother ran track, while his dad played basketball.

What CBS sports had to say about Troy Brown: "Brown is a wild card in the draft. He was a blue-chip recruit out of high school, but was no more than a bit player at Oregon. But similar to Jaylen Brown coming out of Cal, he has the ideal size and athleticism to mesh perfectly in the NBA that is becoming increasingly more positionless." 

For more on how Brown's game will translate at the next level check out the video above with Jamie Hudson and Aaron Fentress. 

Via Jason Quick: Oregon's Troy Brown: point guard trapped inside a wing's body

Former Ducks football player Fotu Leiato killed in car accident

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USATI

Former Ducks football player Fotu Leiato killed in car accident

The Eugene Police Department confirmed to KEZI News in Eugene that former Oregon Football linebacker Fotu Leiato was killed in a rollover car accident earlier this morning. 

Leiato was dismissed from the Oregon football program in May, following his second arrest of the year (April) on charges of theft, criminal trespassing, and criminal mischief. This was compounded by charges from January for misdemeanor trespassing. Leiato had 14 tackels as a linebacker for the Ducks during the 2017 season. 

More on this story as it develops. 

Fotu Leiato from the Oregon Athletic Website is pictured below:

Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame to induct Dana Altman and Kyle Korver

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USATI

Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame to induct Dana Altman and Kyle Korver

Creighton University sent the following out Wednesday morning:

The Creighton University Athletics Hall of Fame will add a pair of all-time greats to its ranks on Saturday, August 25th at the Marriott Capitol District Hotel in Omaha.

This year's inductees in the 51st Hall of Fame class are Dana Altman and Kyle Korver.

Altman was head men's basketball coach at Creighton from 1994-2010, and remains the program's all-time wins leader with a 327-176 mark. He took the Bluejays to 13 postseasons, including seven NCAA Tournaments. The Wilber, Neb., native was named Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2002, and in 2007 named an All-Time Coach on the MVC's All-Centennial Team. He still owns MVC coaching records with 13 consecutive postseasons, 11 straight 20-win seasons, 13 straight years of 10+ league wins, 288 league games coached and six Arch Madness titles.
 
Altman is entering his ninth year as head coach at the University of Oregon, and led the Ducks to the 2017 Final Four. He owns a 743-350 career record in 33 overall seasons as a head coach, which also includes stops at Southeast Junior College (1982-83), Moberly Junior College (1983-86), Marshall (1989-90) and Kansas State (1990-94). He is one of six active Division I coaches with 21 consecutive winning seasons, joining Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Roy Williams, Bill Self and Jim Boeheim.

Korver competed at Creighton from 1999-2003, and remains the only men's basketball player in program history to play in four NCAA Tournaments. He was a consensus Second Team All-American as a senior, when he was named the Midseason National Player of the Year by ESPN's Dick Vitale. Korver was a two-time Valley regular-season and tournament MVP and inducted into the MVC's Hall of Fame in 2010. He remains the Creighton and MVC record holder with 371 career three-pointers made, and still ranks in the top-10 in CU history with 819 three-point attempts (first), 89.1 percent free throw percentage (first), 45.3 percent marksmanship from three-point range (third), 172 steals (fifth) and 1,801 career points (sixth).

Korver was the 51st overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and has played with the Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers during a 15-year professional career. He is the only player to lead the NBA in three-point percentage four times, and he ranks fourth in NBA history with 2,213 career three-pointers, sixth with 43.1 percent shooting from three-point range and 16th with 88.1 percent accuracy from the free throw line.

The Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame contains 84 inductees, plus the 1991 Creighton Baseball Team. It started in 1968 with the induction with Bob Gibson, and features 31 former Bluejay men's basketball coaches and student-athletes.

The Saturday, August 25 event will commence with a social hour at 6 p.m., with the dinner and program to follow at 7 p.m. Tickets to the event are $100 per person or $1,000 for a table of 10. For former Creighton student-athletes and their immediate families, tickets are $75 per person. Reservations can be made online at: http://www.gocreighton.com/athleticevents . For more information about the event, contact Margaret Bennett by phone at 402-280-5577 or by e-mail at mbennett@creighton.edu.

Oregon Ducks Softball season comes to an unexpected early end

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UO Softball

Oregon Ducks Softball season comes to an unexpected early end

It wasn't the end to the season anyone envisioned for the Oregon Ducks who came into the NCAA College Softball World Series with a #1 ranking. Their Championship hopes were dashed this weekend by #5 Washington and #6 Florida State. The two losses ousted the Ducks from the double elimination tournament. 

Here's a quick look around Twitter following the elimination:

 

The loss that could win it all for Oregon softball

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NBCSNW staff

The loss that could win it all for Oregon softball

Let’s rewind the clock to Thursday night. No. 1 Oregon softball hosting the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats in game one of Super Regionals in front of a sellout crowd at Jane Sanders Stadium. Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Megan Kleist calmly and cooly strikes out the first Wildcats batter, and all was right in Eugene, OR. But things took a turn real quick. Kentucky came to play and came away with a 9-6 victory over the home-town favorites to take game one of this best-of-three series vs. Oregon.

A gut-check for the Ducks. An unnerving feeling settling in. One more loss from not advancing to nationals. A must-win the next night. 

With a “backs against the wall” mentality, Oregon dug in and did not phase one bit. The Ducks went on to win 6-1 Friday evening and then an 11-1 run-rule win today to advance once again to the College World Series. 

The Ducks learned two very important lessons that Friday night that just may pay off in Oklahoma City, home of the WCWS. The first: what it feels like to lose. The second: how to bounce back from it.

The Ducks now have a taste of what it feels like to lose at this level of play, face adversity, and fight with their backs against the wall. Yes, the Ducks had three conference losses earlier in the season. But the Ducks have not experienced a loss at this caliber. Not with the season on the line and the possibility of not playing one more game.

“This is probably the best time that it could happen to us as a team,” said Oregon senior DJ Sanders on the timing of Thursday night’s loss. “Even during regionals, I don’t think we played as well as we should have or could have. So we thought, ‘ok maybe this is the wake up call we need to come out and play like we know we can or how we should be,’ so really the first game was probably the wake up call that we needed.”

“Certainly I think every team has a gut-check,” said Oregon coach Mike White. “…It happens a lot. You either got to persevere in those moments and come back and believe in what you’re doing or you go home. And so I think the finale of all, this team stepped up and that’s what you got to do, have to do.”

We learn more from our mistakes than we do our successes, and for the Oregon Ducks, those lessons, how to look adversity in the face and overcome it, may just punch a ticket into the national championship.

Backs against the wall, Oregon softball shows no fear

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NBCSNW staff

Backs against the wall, Oregon softball shows no fear

Backs against the wall, feathers ruffled, a must-win situation, Oregon softball had quite the test in front of them Friday night in front of a sell out crowd at Jane Sanders stadium. In the biggest test of their season, the Ducks are in a win or go home situation down 0-1 in a best-of-three series to the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats in NCAA Super-Regionals. After giving up nine runs on 10 hits in last night’s loss, many wondered how and if the Ducks would bounce back because Oregon had not been put in a situation like this all season long.

The Ducks haven’t given up that many runs since playing at the Arizona Wildcats in April 2017.

It was a different story tonight. Oregon came in focused, fired up, feeling good, and defeated the Wildcats 6-1.

“Just a much better overall performance, especially defensively. We made some big plays,” said Oregon coach Mike White. “You could tell we were fighting for our lives. That’s what we had to do with our backs up against the wall. I was really proud of our team… hopefully tomorrow we can do the same thing.”

“It was there and I didn’t want it to be,” said senior infielder Jenna Lilley on dropping the first game vs. Kentucky. “You have to acknowledge that that’s the reality of it and what we’re playing for to keep our season going. So definitely the thought was there but do everything we can to not let that happen.”

Freshmen sensation and home-town kid Lauren Burke has not phased a bit in her first postseason play as a collegiate player. Burke, from Marist High School here in Eugene, Oregon, has batted 5-for-6 with seven RBI’s and two homers this postseason.

But this is not over quite yet. One down, one to go. Oregon softball must have back-to-back wins over the Wildcats to advance to the college World Series. One more game tomorrow evening, 6 PM, and Jane Sanders stadium.

Will the same team that came in focused in game two repeat itself in game three? Or will the momentum swing back to Kentucky’s side as it did in game one? Softball fans are in for a real treat tomorrow night with a trip to nationals on the line.

 

Oregon softball shakin’, not stirred

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NBCSNW Staff

Oregon softball shakin’, not stirred

Four errors. Nine runs given up. 10 hits allowed… a rather uncharacteristic night for the No. 1 seeded Oregon Ducks in round one of the NCAA Super Regionals. The No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats, coming off run-ruling all three of their opponents last weekend, the bats were hot and junior Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Megan Kleist was tested early and often. Kleist did not seem like her usual self, and besides striking out the first Kentucky batter, had a rough first inning giving up a three-run homer to Wilcats' ace hitter Abbey Cheek.

The Ducks offense did manage to put up six runs on the night, but the defense did not hold giving up four errors on bad throws.

“We know our backs are up against the wall right now,” said coach Mike White following the game. “It makes it pretty simple: we have to come out and win otherwise our season is done. I thought our team fought hard, we never gave up, we battled until the last out, unfortunately it didn’t work out today. Hopefully tomorrow it can be a different story.”

Oregon will face a do or die situation tomorrow in this best-of-three series with the Wildcats already down 0-1. 

“Kentucky, I give them a lot of credit, they came in here and they came to play. So like coach says, pretty simple, you win or you don’t,” said senior catcher Gwen Svekis.

Oregon must flush this game and move on. Focus on the task at hand, do all the little things right, and flat out win tomorrow. With their backs against the wall, how will this team respond? 

“Now, it’s what we do tomorrow and the next day that matter the most,” said White. “How are we going to bounce back? Sure we had a bad game, but if we want to be the national champions and be the number one team in the country, we need to be able to come back from this. Plenty of teams have done it before. We need to be fired up and come out and play a better game.”