Oregon Ducks

The real star of Oregon's Final Four push? The coach!

The real star of Oregon's Final Four push? The coach!

I've talked to several NBA people I know about the Oregon Ducks and I'm getting the same evaluation from just about all of them:

Coach Dana Altman has done an amazing job with that team.

Oregon heads to the Final Four this week without a big-time superstar. Without a lottery pick in the NBA draft, maybe even without a first-round pick in the draft. You aren't supposed to do that. At least you aren't supposed to do that if you have a legitimate chance to win the whole thing -- which the Ducks most certainly have.

But Oregon plays together, plays extremely hard and defends. Really defends. It's an athletic bunch and Altman has done something that a lot of college coaches can't seem to accomplish -- he's getting the most from the team's athleticism while retaining a degree of discipline. The Ducks are quick, fast and physical -- but they are seldom out of control. They are able to harness all that athleticism without going into a crazy, undisciplined style.

The win over Kansas was stunning. Not only was it more of a road game than any team is supposed to play in an NCAA tournament, it was against a team with more talent than the Ducks. Coming next is a game against North Carolina, which again, has more talent than Oregon. But I'm not sure the Tar Heels are ready for a team that's going to come at them with the energy and force that Oregon has brought. This bunch can be downright intimidating with its style of play.

My only question about the Ducks all season was whether they would shoot the ball well enough to win more than a couple of consecutive tourney games. But Tyler Dorsey has emerged as the reliable shooter this team has needed and Jordan Bell has become the inside defensive force to replace the injured Chris Boucher.

And these guys are fearless and relentless. That they can be that way and Altman can still retain a measure of control is amazing. The college basketball world is full of control freaks who want to stand on the sidelines screaming at their players, calling every play and controlling every facet of their team's game. And they end up stifling their team's creativity. Altman has let go just enough to allow his team to make the most of its natural ability.

And that's the very essence of coaching.

A FEW FINAL FOUR NOTES: They keep saying this thing is being held in Phoenix but it isn't. The Final Four is actually going to be played in a stadium in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix that is a long way from a lot of places you may choose to stay in the Phoenix area. Be prepared for a long drive from downtown Phoenix, or points south or east. If you're staying in Scottsdale or Mesa or Gilbert or Tempe, it's a long haul. ... And yes, I said the Final Four is to be played in a "stadium" and not an "arena." This thing is going down in University of Phoenix Stadium, the home of the NFL Cardinals and various college football playoff games. It's the one that looks like a giant flying saucer and seats about 67,000 for football. I'm not sure what it will seat for hoops but you can bet there are thousands upon thousands of lousy seats where the scoreboard video screen will be your best view. That also means there should be plenty of tickets available, either through the NCAA, the schools or the secondary market. I'd be careful about paying a high price to a scalper early this week because the market could be flooded with tickets later on. And, as always at a Final Four, Sunday is a good day to buy a ticket on the secondary market for the championship game. The fans of the teams that lose Saturday are always looking to unload their tickets and go home.

Five takeaways from the 2019-20 Oregon men's basketball schedule

Five takeaways from the 2019-20 Oregon men's basketball schedule

The Pac-12 Conference released the schedule for the 2019-20 men's basketball season. Coming off a run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, the Ducks currently have just eight players eligible to play, led by star point guard Payton Pritchard and two returners from last season's team; Francis Okoro and Will Richardson.

A few takeaways from Oregon's schedule;

-Oregon will host USC and UCLA, but won’t make a return trip to Los Angeles as part of this year’s rotation.

-Oregon travels to Washington and Washington State and will also meet just once. 

-A home-heavy tail end; Oregon will play five of its last seven games at home for the first time since 2015-16.

-Mark your calendars! The Pac-12 Tournament, which Oregon won over Washington last season, will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas March 11-14.

-Things are changing; Next season, the conference moves to a 20-game conference schedule, which includes 10 pairings instead of nine. 

[RELATED: Ducks to open with Seton Hall in Battle 4 Atlantis]

From the UO Athletic Department:

Oregon will play five of its last seven Pac-12 men’s basketball games at home in 2019-20.

The conference announced the Pac-12 pairings for the 2019-20 season on Monday.

Oregon will open the league season at the mountain schools, Colorado and Utah, the weekend of Jan. 4.

The Ducks’ Pac-12 home opener will come a week later against Arizona and Arizona State.

The only regular season meetings between Oregon and the Washington schools comes the weekend of Jan. 18, when Oregon treks to Seattle and Pullman.

The Ducks return to Matthew Knight Arena to host UCLA and USC the weekend of Jan. 25. Oregon will not play in Los Angeles this year.

Then it’s three-straight road games for the Ducks with California and Stanford in the Bay Area the weekend of Feb. 1 and a trip to Corvallis the weekend of Feb. 8.

After the Civil War, the schedule flips with five-of-seven games at Matthew Knight Arena.

Colorado and Utah are in town the weekend of Feb. 15.

The Ducks make their final road trip of the year to Arizona and ASU the weekend of Feb. 22.

The 2019-20 regular season wraps with OSU visiting Eugene the weekend of Feb. 29 followed by Cal and Stanford the weekend of March 7.

This will be the first time since the 2015-16 season that the Ducks will play five of their last seven games at home.

The 2019 Pac-12 Tournament will be held March 11-14 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Monday’s announcement reflects the games being played and the home/away designations each week of the Pac-12 regular season. Specific dates and times for each game within a week will be announced later this summer after selections by the league’s television partners are finalized. All 108 Conference games will be televised by either Pac-12 Network, ESPN/2/U, FOX/FS1 or CBS.

Oregon’s 2019-20 non-conference schedule will also be released in the coming weeks.

Some non-conference dates previously announced include Memphis in the Phil Knight Invitational Nov. 12 at the Moda Center in Portland, the Battle for Atlantis Nov. 27-29 in the Bahamas and a road game at Michigan on Dec. 14.

This will be the final season that teams will play an 18-game Pac-12 schedule. The conference announced this past May that it will transition to a 20-game league schedule beginning with the 2020-21 season.

Kenny Wooten signs Exhibit 10 deal with the New York Knicks

Kenny Wooten signs Exhibit 10 deal with the New York Knicks

The final University of Oregon NBA Draft prospect left on the board seems to have found a home. 

Kenny Wooten, the 6-foot-9 high flying forward, has signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the New York Knicks following his Summer League appearances with the team. 

A four star forward in the Class of 2017, Wooten entered Eugene on the heels of the famed 2017 Final Four squad. In two seasons with Oregon, Wooten was a force around the rim, rejecting 166 shots in only 70 appearances, settling in at third on the school’s blocks leaderboard. 

After somewhat surprisingly declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft, Wooten went undrafted alongside teammate Louis King. 

[RELATED]: King signs a two-way deal with the Detroit Pistons

An Exhibit 10 contract brings Wooten into New York’s training camp in the fall. If management likes what they see, Wooten will be converted into a two way deal. A two-way deal allows players to be with the NBA team for up to 45 days that can earn him up to $204,000. On the other hand, if Wooten is cut and spends at least 45 days with the Knicks G-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, he will earn a $50,000 bonus. 

The Knicks have already filled their 15 roster spots and signed one of their two, two-way players (Kris Wilkes), so it is likely that Wooten will begin his professional career in Westchester. 

The Bridge Podcast: Joey Harrington's refreshingly honest perspective

The Bridge Podcast: Joey Harrington's refreshingly honest perspective

Upon hearing of Joey Harrington's birth, legendary Oregon football coach Len Casanova jokingly sent his parents a letter-of-intent. It was an ironically fitting beginning to a long relationship between Harrington and the Ducks.

Harrington sits down for a one-on-one with Justin Myers of The Bridge for a deep dive into his career at Oregon to the culmination of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl victory and the Heisman Trophy presentation. His perspective of Oregon’s history, present and future, is unique and refreshingly honest.

A three-year starter, the quarterback is cemented as an all-time UO great and his 7,121 yards of total offense rank third in University of Oregon history. In the podcast, Harrington talks about the loss against Oregon State in 2000 that still eats away at him and how he feels that the Ducks were robbed of a 2002 Rose Bowl.

“The rest of the country wanted us to be in that game, the rest of the country wanted to see Oregon playing Miami,” Harrington said. “That created a buzz around the country that influenced recruiting, uniforms, marketing. The program took a trajectory at that point.”

What was it like to be on a billboard in Times Square promoting “Joey Heisman”? What about on the cover of Sports Illustrated and the 2003 edition of EA Sports’ NCAA Football video game? Check out the podcast to learn more from Harrington, himself.

Oregon vs. Auburn stage just got bigger and better with ESPN GameDay

Oregon vs. Auburn stage just got bigger and better with ESPN GameDay

Are you ready for a day long dose of the Ducks on August 31? ESPN’s College GameDay will open the football season on Aug. 31 at Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas to preview that night’s marquee matchup between Oregon and Auburn in the Advocare Classic at AT&T Stadium.

Oregon’s 25 GameDay appearances ranks ninth all time in total appearances.  It also is the third time for a game in AT&T Stadium.

The national attention continues for the game on ABC’s Saturday Night Football broadcast with a 4:30 p.m. PT kickoff.

44 days away from the polarizing matchup, the Ducks are the projected underdog, but I predict Oregon will emerge from probable top-15 battle as the victors.

Optimism is high for Oregon football’s 2019 season and beating the Tigers will essentially make or break the team’s College Football Playoff hopes. A win sends the Ducks and the Pac-12 Conference into national relevancy, and a loss initiates an uphill fight; no team has ever rebounded from a week one loss to make the final field of four.

Oregon is 14-10 all-time in games in which College GameDay is in attendance, six losses on the road or in neutral site games. Last season, the Ducks lost both their games in which GameDay was in attendance (Stanford, Washington State). Auburn’s record is 9-9 when College GameDay visits the site its games, last winning during the 2017 Iron Bowl.

It’s the first meeting between these teams since Auburn’s 22-19 win in the BCS National Championship game in 2011.

"One-two punch" running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye named to Doak Walker Award list

"One-two punch" running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye named to Doak Walker Award list

2018 saw the emergence of Ducks duo CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, who will be excellent for years to come. Now the self-proclaimed "one-two punch" have been named to the Doak Walker Award watch list. 

[RELATED: LaMichael James' take on Oregon running back Sean Dollars: Dangerous]

From the Oregon Athletic Department:

One of just two returning Power 5 running back duos in the country that rushed for more than 700 yards each in 2018, Oregon sophomores Travis Dye and CJ Verdell were named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List on Wednesday.

Oregon is one of eight teams with multiple players on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top college running back.

Verdell is coming off a redshirt freshman season in which he was the only player in the nation with 1,000 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving. He was one of eight FBS freshmen with 1,000 yards on the ground and just the third freshman in Oregon history to accomplish the feat. Verdell finished seventh in the Pac-12 in both rushing yards (1,018) and rushing TDs (10).

An early enrollee in the 2018 signing class, Dye made an immediate impact in his first season with 739 yards and four touchdowns. All three of Dye’s 100-yard games came in Pac-12 play, as he finished 11th in the league in rushing. 

In Oregon’s regular season finale win at Oregon State, the duo combined for 386 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while Dye set the program single-game freshman record with 199 yards on 33 carries. Verdell scored five TDs in his 187-yard performance, becoming the first FBS player since 2016 with four rushing TDs and a receiving TD in the same game.

[RELATED: Preseason award watch lists rolling in for Justin Herbert]

True freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux poised to lead Oregon football in sacks

True freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux poised to lead Oregon football in sacks

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal named Kayvon Thibodeaux a “game changer” from the moment he committed to the Ducks. Undoubtedly, ESPN's No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class is competing for a starting job and I predict the defensive end will lead UO in sacks this season.

Thibodeaux enters into an Oregon pass rushing unit that lost two leaders in Justin Hollins and Jalen Jelks to graduation. Hollins led UO last season with 6.5 sacks. Thibodeaux is poised for seven or more sack this season; he enrolled early, quickly adjusted to college pace and displayed an array of pass-rushing moves that indicate he will be a high-impact player right away.

By the way, the true freshman is doing a push-up challenge on his Instagram account called “see 50, do 50” where he does 50 pushups every hour and encourages his followers to join in. He also joined Oregon's 500-pound squat club during offseason workouts

At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, he’s an elite pass rusher with explosiveness, scary speed and agility that creates major issues for offensive lines.

Thibodeaux’s production will be critically important for the Duck defense. Gus Cumberlander is Oregon’s top returning pass rusher who recorded four sacks in 2018. Whether he’s a first-stringer or a rotational player, Thibodeaux has the opportunity to make a huge impact that could lead to All-Pac-12 honors by the end of the season.

During the UO spring game, Thibodeaux generated consistent pressure and recorded a sack. He would have had at least one more if the scrimmage was completely game-like without the quarterbacks in red no-contact jerseys.

Thibodeaux’s talent plus football IQ equals a star in the making. There are just 46 days until Oregon football kicks off the 2019 season against Auburn on August 31, 2019. In order for the Ducks to contend in the Pac-12 north, Thibodeaux will need to live up to expectations and shoulder the weight as a UO’s leading pass-rusher.


Underdog Ducks will beat Auburn

Troy Dye, projected first round 2020 NFL draft pick, will smash Oregon record

Justin "Record Breaker" Herbert; will set new record for career pass completions

Cam McCormick back with a vengeance

"Dangerous" running back Sean Dollars to have a money freshman season

Preseason award watch lists rolling in for Justin Herbert

Preseason award watch lists rolling in for Justin Herbert

From the UO athletic department:

For the second consecutive day, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert landed on a preseason watch list. This time, Herbert was one of 30 quarterbacks on the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List, announced on Tuesday by the Davey O’Brien Foundation.

[READ: Justin Herbert named to Maxwell Award watch list for America's College Player of the Year]

The Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award is presented annually to the nation’s best college quarterback and is the oldest national quarterback award. Herbert is one of eight players on the watch list that were semifinalists last year.

Herbert enters the 2019 campaign with the nation’s longest active streak of 28 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. On Monday, the Eugene, Ore., native was named to the watch list for the 83rd annual Maxwell Award, which is which is presented to America's College Player of the Year.

The projected top quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft, Herbert announced that he would be returning for his senior season prior to Oregon’s win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl. The Eugene, Ore., product started all 13 games in 2018, passing for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Herbert Quick Hits 

» Two-time Academic All-America first team honoree and the reigning Google Cloud Academic All-America® Team Member of the Year.

» Owns a streak of 28 consecutive games with a TD pass, good for the longest active streak in the nation.

» Has led Oregon to an average of 38.3 points per game over his 28 career starts.

» Oregon is 15-6 in his 21 starts over the last two seasons (2017 & 18).

» Enters 2019 season ranked fifth among active FBS leaders in passing TDs (63) and eighth in passing yards (7,070).

» Has 23 TD passes and two interceptions in 11 career Pac-12 road games (10 starts).

Preseason Honors

» Davey O’Brien Award Watch List
» Maxwell Award Watch List
» Phil Steele All-America third team
» Athlon Sports Pac-12 first team
» Phil Steele Pac-12 first team
» No. 11 on Sports Illustrated Top 100 Players

The fresh Prince, that is Sedona Prince, is officially headed for Oregon women's basketball

The fresh Prince, that is Sedona Prince, is officially headed for Oregon women's basketball

It seems like it’s every other week that more good news keeps raining in on Oregon women’s basketball. 

First, the Ducks had their first ever Final Four appearance in program history last season. Then, Sabrina Ionescu announced she would forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft and return to the University of Oregon for some “Unfinished Business”. Then the recruits starting pouring in, and now, coach Kelly Graves has added another weapon to this arsenal of talent. 

The Ducks have officially signed Texas transfer Sedona Prince.

From the University of Oregon Athletic Communications department:

The 6-foot-7 forward from Liberty Hill, Texas, was a McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic participant in 2018, when she was ranked the No. 8 recruit in the nation by ESPN. Prince is the tallest player at Oregon since 6-7 center Stefanie Kasperski graduated in 1990.

Prince redshirted her freshman season with the Longhorns after suffering an injury while playing for the USA national team at the U18 FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico City in the summer of 2018.

Prior to the injury, Prince capped a stellar high school career by being named the Texas Girls Coaches Association Basketball Athlete of the Year (1A-4A).

She averaged 22.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.8 steals and 4.7 blocks per game as a senior after averaging 18.4 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.0 steals and 7.2 blocks per game as a junior. Prince started all 154 games of her high school career, beginning as a freshman at Faith Academy in 2014-15 before playing her final three seasons at Liberty Hill HS. She totaled 2,759 points, 1,493 rebounds and 924 blocked shots in her high school career.

In addition to the U18 FIBA Americas Championship, Prince's experience with the USA national team includes the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championships in Zaragoza, Spain, as well as the 2015 FIBA U16 Americas Championship in Puebla, Mexico.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Prince will have to sit out the 2019-20 season with the Ducks. Oregon is exploring a transfer waiver that will allow Prince to play immediately.

Troy Dye named to Bednarik Award watch list for the College Defensive Player of the Year

Troy Dye named to Bednarik Award watch list for the College Defensive Player of the Year

The Oregon football faithful let out a deep sigh of relief the day news broke of Troy Dye forgoing the 2019 NFL Draft and returning for one more season in green and yellow. 

The senior linebacker, who has lead the Ducks in tackles for the third consecutive year, has been named to the Bednarik Award watch list for the College Defensive Player of the Year, and rightfully so. 

Dye became the first Oregon player with 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons since Michael Clay (2011-12) and the 15th player in program history to reach 300 career tackles. Dye will be one of just two FBS players, and the only Power 5 player, returning in 2019 to lead his team in tackles each of the last three seasons (91 in 2016, 107 in 2017 and 115 in 2018).

Our Oregon Insider Bri Amarathus says, "In 2019, I predict Oregon inside linebacker Troy Dye’s reign of terror on Pac-12 offenses will continue and the senior will take down the Oregon record for career tackles, set in 1971." 

Fun Fact: In three career season openers, Dye has totaled 29 tackles, including 6.5 for loss, two sacks and two interceptions.

Career Notables:
- Enters senior season third among current FBS players with 313 tackles.
- Needs 121 tackles to become Oregon’s all-time career leader.
- Has led the team in tackles 19 of 37 career games.
- Ranks second in program history with double-digit tackles in 17 games.
- One of three FBS players with at least 100 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2017.

Preseason Honors: 
- Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List
- Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List 
- Athlon Sports All-America second team
- Phil Steele All-America second team 
- Athlon Sports Pac-12 first team
- Phil Steele Pac-12 first team 
- No. 85 on Sports Illustrated Top 100 Players