Oregon Ducks

Taggart and Ducks enter spring with five glaring questions

Taggart and Ducks enter spring with five glaring questions

The Willie Taggart-era at Oregon on the practice field began this morning when the Ducks opened spring drills, which will include 14 sessions before the Spring Game on April 29. 

Oregon enters spring with a new staff but most of the same players who were largely responsible for a 4-8 season in 2016, a year that led to the firing of former coach Mark Helfrich and a staff that featured some assistants who had been in Eugene for as many as 20-plus years.

In order to win right away, Taggart must do so with the players recruited by the former staff. That's not impossible. In fact, it's highly likely. Oregon played mostly a young and battered group in 2016. It's a core that should be considerably better in 2017 after taking their collective lumps during the program's first losing season since 2004 (5-6). 

That development process began during the winter and continues this spring. Many questions linger for this staff to sort out, but here are five that must be addressed this spring: 

1. Will a quarterback controversy develop or will Justin Herbert re-establish himself as the guy for this new staff? The only quarterback in Oregon history who at the same age could have beaten out what we saw from Herbert as a freshman would be Marcus Mariota. Maybe. That's how good Herbert is. So, when Taggart says that the position is open, he is essentially hoping that either redshirt freshman Terry Wilson Jr. or redshirt sophomore Travis Jonsen demonstrates some Mariota-level skills.

We shall see. 

Herbert took over as the starter in week 6 and in seven starts completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,986 yards and 19 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Project those numbers out over 13 games (with a bowl) and you get 3,688-35-6. Those numbers are almost identical to what Mariota put up in 2013 (3,665-31-4) as a redshirt sophomore while playing on a much better team.  No doubt Taggart witnessed all of Herbert's skills while reviewing game video from last season. 

Still, Taggart points out that UO won just four games, so whatever Herbert did last season wasn't good enough. Truth be told, Herbert won just two of those four (Arizona State and Utah), but Mariota wouldn't have won much more with the defense Oregon put on the field. 

Taggart does liked the physical abilities he saw from Wilson and Jonsen during winter workouts, but added that Herbert has also looked great, so far. 

“Really impressed with winter conditioning watching him run around and change directions, and doing those things," Taggart said. 

Now, Taggart wants to see Herbert, or another quarterback, become an established leader. 

“At the end of the day, I want to see who can lead this football team," Taggart said. "Who can get this team to rally around him.”

Let the QB games begin. 

2. Are there any young playmakers at linebacker not named Troy Dye? Dye made a name for himself last season as pretty much the only playmaker on defense. The Ducks will return to the 3-4, defense, which means UO needs three other linebackers to emerge. Seniors A.J. Hotchkins and Jimmie Swain must improve. Also, Oregon could use someone among the young group of sophomores La'Mar Winston Jr. and Keith Simms, and redshirt freshman Eric Briscoe, to breakthrough. 

"We have to get more athletic at that spot," Taggart said.

Translation: "We lack ballers."

Oregon will be looking for more of those this spring. 

3. Are there any playmakers along the defensive line at all? We must continue on with the defense because that side of the ball was so bad last season. So bad that there really weren't any bright spot along the defensive line to be found. 

Taggart, however, said he believes that some playmakers exist upfront. Mass confusion on defense last year, he added, led to a lot of young defensive linemen not being able to flourish. 

"Usually when you don't know what you're doing, you'll get your butt whooped," Taggart said. "But there's some potential."

Jalen Jelks, Henry Mondeaux, Gary Baker, Rex Manu, Drayton Carlberg, and others, all must develop this spring or opposing offenses will once again trample the Ducks. 

4.  Can Dillon Mitchell and Alex Ofodile ease concerns about depth at wide receiver? Oregon returns two wide receivers of consequence: seniors Darren Carrington II and Charles Nelson. Taggart needs about four more receivers for him to be comfortable about the depth at this position. 

Sophomore Dillon Mitchell and redshirt sophomore Alex Ofodile are both former four-star recruits and the next men up. But the jury is out on both. They could either emerge this spring or open the door for one of seven freshmen receivers to take their jobs. 

One such freshman already on campus is three-star recruit, Darrian McNeal, a quick elusive receiver in the mold of Nelson and former UO star, De'Anthony Thomas, but not quite as fast, according to Taggart.

Taggart said McNeal's love for the game shows in his play, play that could get him on the game field right away. 

But for this position to take off, Mitchell and/or Ofodile must take major strides in their development this spring. 

5. How will a new coaching staff mesh? Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and cornerbacks coach Charles Clark worked together in Colorado. Taggart brought two South Florida assistants, special teams coordinator Raymond Woodie and running backs coach Donte Pimpleton, to UO from his former team. Other than that, no other coaching connections exist on this staff. 

So, stands to reason that there could be some growing pains as the staff learns to work together. 

"Not everybody has been around me," Taggart said. "A lot of things I might not like and I'll continue to coach those guys up and get it the way that we want it."

So far, Taggart said, the staff has worked together very well. Camaraderie and enthusiasm have been high. Taggart said it helps that Leavitt and co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal are former head coaches who get the process. 

We will see if harmony continues or if some feathers get ruffled along the way. Especially if the previous four questions go unanswered and the team is left floundering in a sea of mediocrity during year one of the Taggart era. 

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.”