Oregon Ducks

Pac-12 CEOs vote to improve non-conference basketball schedules, lessen transfer penalties within conference

Pac-12 CEOs vote to improve non-conference basketball schedules, lessen transfer penalties within conference

Interesting news is emerging from the Pac-12 Conference CEOs' annual spring meeting in San Francisco. Presidents and chancellors met and voted on a variety of topics, the two biggest changes approved are;

1) Raising standards for non-conference basketball schedules.

Beginning in the 2020-21 season, November and December will have far less cupcake games. Men’s basketball non-conference opponents will now need to have a five-year average NET ranking of at least 175 for home games and 200 or better for road games, up from the Pac-12′s previous standard for non-conference opponents of a five-year average of 300 RPI.

The move will have impact on power rankings and the NCAA Tournament selection process. Pac-12 teams received little benefit from victories over opponents in the bottom half of Division I, while losses severely hurt the team’s resume.

Under this rule, Oregon wouldn’t have played Portland State and Florida A&M. Oregon State wouldn’t have played Central Connecticut State or UC-Riverside.

2) Eliminating “loss of season” of eligibility for undergraduate transfers who transfer within the conference.

The CEO group voted to eliminate the “loss of a season" of eligibility penalty for all student-athletes who transfer within the Pac-12. This means undergraduate intra-conference transfers still have to sit out a year in residency, but won’t lose a year of eligibility.

According to the Pac-12, “The rule is designed to provide student-athletes with a similar experience to another student who decides to transfer.”

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]

Oregon football offseason updates: 6 takeaways from Mario Cristobal

Oregon football offseason updates: 6 takeaways from Mario Cristobal

College football is creeping in… Ready for some Duck football updates? Oregon football coach Mario Cristobal met with the media prior to the Portland Golf Classic at Langdon Farms Golf Club on Monday. Here are the biggest takeaways:

1. FOOTBALL STAFF IS NOT ON PAR

Cristobal is admittedly bad at golf, has never played 18 holes and spends a lot of time recruiting while he is on the greens. In fact, he said the entire UO football staff is not good on the golf course. He thinks it is a good sign that his staff is much better at their jobs than golfing.

2. 500 POUND SQUAT CLUB IS GROWING

The Ducks are getting after it in the weight room as apart of their offseason strength and conditioning program. Junior defensive lineman Jordon Scott posted a video squatting 605 pounds and freshman defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux just joined the 500-pound squat club.

Last year, Oregon had 29 players who could squad 400 or more pounds. That number has almost doubled to 56 players in the “400 club”, according to Cristobal. 15 Ducks can squat 500 pounds compared to three a year ago. He gave a special shout out to the seniors who have been leading the way in the weight room.

3. CRISTOBAL IS PROUD OF THE DUCKS IN THE COMMUNITY

Oregon football has been ever present in the community this offseason. The Ducks had almost 60 players volunteer for the Oregon football women’s clinic and quarterback Justin Herbert spends a lot of his time in the OHeroes program.

“There is no head faking, there is no putting on a show,” Cristobal said. “I’m proud of the fact that they chose to be apart of the community and chose to give back because if it’s forced, it’s not the same. Our players are made of the right stuff on the inside and that’s what we are most proud of.”

4. THE REST OF UO’S BEST EVER RECRUITING CLASS ON CAMPUS IN TWO WEEKS

It was all eyes on Oregon’s 11 early enrollees during spring football practices. Now, the rest of Oregon’s highest-rated class is headed to Eugene and will arrive on campus on June 22-23.

The remaining four-star recruits that will officially join the team in two weeks are: linebacker Masu Funa, wide receiver Lance Wilhoite, offensive lineman Jonah Tauanu'u, running back Sean Dollars and defensive tackle Keyon Ware-Hudson.

“They have about four-and-a-half weeks to prepare for their first collegiate season,” said Cristobal. “They have about four-and-a-half weeks to do a great job in the classroom, learn the systems, get in the best shape they can, attack every phase of the process we have set for them before a small break before we start fall camp.”

5. NATE COSTA JOINING THE STAFF IS A BIG DEAL

Cristobal praised former Oregon quarterback Nate Costa, who played for Oregon from 2006-10. Cristobal hired Costa as a Senior Offensive Analyst in March but it’s not the first time the two have met.

“I met Nate three years ago,” Cristobal said. “While I was in Tuscaloosa, he came in for an interview… Super bright guy with an extremely high football I.Q. He has been in a couple different systems and has done some coaching as well at IMG. He’s a very well respected guy and a guy that will, without question, help us offensively.”

6. OREGON IS HIGHLY MONITORING TRANSFER PORTAL

Since the NCAA has altered the transfer rules, granting a larger number of waivers for immediate eligibility, many programs have adjusted their strategies. The Ducks aren't making any drastic changes but always on high alert when it comes to the transfer portal.

"If you have to change because of the transfer portal, you're probably not doing it right to begin with. I say that very openly and honestly," Cristobal said. "If you have to change what you are because of an adjustment, I think that’s a problem. We don’t change, we are what we are, 24/7, 365. We do things the right way, we work extremely hard, we’re demanding but not demeaning. We take care of our players but we also make sure to challenge them and push them to reach their highest potential. “

Talkin’ with the Ducks pt. 3: Juwan Johnson's pregame rituals, secret hobby

Talkin’ with the Ducks pt. 3: Juwan Johnson's pregame rituals, secret hobby

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.

[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]

In part three, get to know Johnson better with rapid fire questions. Learn about his very specific pregame rituals and his secret hobby. Also, what is the meaning behind his touchdown celebration?

"It’s kind of cocky but sometimes you have to have a little ego when you are playing football," Johnson said.