Game Preview: No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 3 Stanford

Game Preview: No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 3 Stanford

Two days after Oregon Coach Kelly Graves’ birthday, No. 3 Oregon (13-2, 3-1 Pac-12) hosts No. 3 Stanford (15-1, 4-0 Pac-12) in what could be a preview of a Pac-12 tournament and NCAA tournament showdown later this season. Whenever these two programs face off on one another, there’s just a different feel to it. 

Last season, the Ducks got the jump on the Cardinal with a 40 point victory at Maples Pavilion. Stanford would get their revenge with a 64-57 win over Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament title game.

Both Oregon and Stanford historically have proven to sign top recruiting classes, unmatched facilities and outstanding coaching. 

Tonight, we get the first installment of this heated matchup this season.

Numbers to know:

POINTS PER GAME:

Oregon - 86.5

Stanford - 78.5

THREE-POINT PERCENTAGE

Oregon - 36.0

Stanford - 35.9

TWO STANFORD FRESHMEN TO WATCH:

Hannah Jump - the 6-foot freshman guard is only averaging 6.7 points per game, but is shooting lights out from beyond the arc at 47.6%. If you give her space, she will make you pay.

Haley Jones - The 6-foot-1, 3x Pac-12 Freshman of the Week guard is averaging 11.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Junior Kiana Williams, with her lightning quickness and fast-paced tempo, is having another great season under VanDerveer averaging 12.7 points and 3.7 assists per game.

The Stanford guard-play of Jones, junior Kiana Williams and sophomore Lexie Hull are averaging a combined 37.4 points per game.

They're just so smart — and that's not even a joke about the fact they go to Stanford," Ionescu said. "They're very smart. They know the scout religiously. They know every player's strengths, every player's weaknesses. We'll call out plays and they already know exactly what we're going to run. We're going to have to be able to battle and play our game. — senior guard Sabrina Ionescu

Slowing down the Cardinal guards will be key for Oregon’s success. 

On the other end, senior Sabrina Ionescu recorded her 22nd career triple-double and senior Ruthy Hebard recorded her 47th career double-double last Sunday vs. the Arizona Wildcats. The Ducks are coming off a split weekend vs. the Arizona schools losing to Arizona State 72-66 and defeating then No. 18 Arizona 71-64.

Ionescu is Oregon’s all-time leader in assists and three-pointers made and is 25 points away from becoming Oregon’s all-time leader in scoring.

Coach Graves said the other day in practice that we haven’t even reached our full potential yet, nothing close to our full potential. When that does come around and we’re able to get everything together, I think it’s a scary sight. I’m excited for that. — senior guard Minyon Moore

Only time will tell if the Ducks will be celebrating once again tonight at Matthew Knight Arena.

Tip-off set for 6 p.m. (PT) in Eugene, OR.

Seniors Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard took over vs. Arizona to propel Oregon to victory

Seniors Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard took over vs. Arizona to propel Oregon to victory

When it’s the game comes down to the wire, big time players make big time plays.

And that's what Oregon seniors Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard were this afternoon in a top-25 showdown in the desert between No. 2 Oregon and No. 18 Arizona. 

It’s been the Sabrina and Ruthy show for four straight years.

Four years of dominating not just the Pac-12 conference, but the whole country. In their freshman season, this duo lead the Ducks to upset wins over Duke, Temple and Maryland. The following year, an appearance in the Elite 8. Last season, a trip to the program’s first ever Final Four. Now, in their fourth and final season playing together and in Coach Kelly Graves’ system, the chemistry continues to flow and build. The two were close to not reuniting for one more run as Ionescu was the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft but decided to return to Oregon for her senior season.

It showed today in a 71-64 gritty win vs. Arizona.

Hebard recorded 19 points and 14 boards for her fourth double-double of the season and 47th of her career. Ionescu recorded her 22nd career triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. 

In the fourth quarter alone, Ionescu scored 11 of Oregon 18’s points and hitting 7-for-7 from the free thrown line. Absolutely clutch.

In the video above, Ionescu didn't even realize she recorded yet another triple-double and highlighted the amount of turnovers she had (6). 

This season, Ionescu is averaging 16.2 points, 8.5 assists and 9.1 rebounds. Hebard is averaging 16.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

When you have players like Ionescu and Hebard in a system for four years running, the possibilities on the offensive end are limitless. The two run a pick-and-roll clinic on opposing defenses. 

UP NEXT: The Ducks will have another huge test on Thursday when No. 5 Stanford visits Eugene at Matthew Knight Arena where Ionescu and Hebard have to be at their best.

Instant Analysis: No 2 Oregon edges No. 18 Arizona in a nail biter

Instant Analysis: No 2 Oregon edges No. 18 Arizona in a nail biter

Less than 48 hours ago, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks suffered their first Pac-12 conference loss of the season 72-66 to the Arizona State Sun Devils. How would Oregon respond on Sunday afternoon against another tough opponent in No. 18 Arizona? Would the Ducks come out fired up or continue the slump? 

Oregon held a five point lead with under a minute of game time to go. Ionescu sank two free throws with 20.7 left on the clock and a 69-64 lead. Sophomore Taylor Chavez and junior Satou Sabally forced a turnover and Ionescu ended up back on the charity stripe.

The Ducks (13-2, 3-1 Pac-12) grinded out a tough win over Wildcats (13-4, 2-3 Pac-12) with a final score of 71-64 in Tucson, Arizona.

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

SHELLEY, CHAVEZ ZONE WORK

The Ducks settled into a 2-3 defensive zone with sophomore Taylor Chavez and freshman Jaz Shelley lingering at the top. The two forced the ball to the outside but it was their quickness and hands that forced turnovers and fast break opportunities. Unfortunately, the Ducks could only capitalize with three total fast break points.

Oregon recorded 11 steals and forced 15 turnovers in the win.

SENIOR DOMINANCE PT. 1: DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR RUTHY HEBARD; 

The dynamic duo was at it again and the Ducks needed every bit of them. Seniors Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard have an undeniable chemistry and know how to finish games.

Hebard recorded 19 points and 14 rebounds and absolutely dominated the paint. Oregon outscored 36 to 18 in the paint over Arizona.

SENIOR DOMINANCE PT. 2: TRIPLE-DOUBLE FOR THE GOAT

Ionescu recorded her 22nd career triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. She had just two points at halftime. 

In the fourth quarter alone, Ionescu scored 11 of Oregon 18’s points and hitting 7-for-7 from the free thrown line. Clutch.

UP NEXT: The Ducks return home to host No. 5 Stanford on a Thursday night showdown

Oregon women's basketball unveils fly throwback uniforms

Oregon women's basketball unveils fly throwback uniforms

We're only three days into the decade, but Oregon is already defining the fashion sense of the 2020s.

Just days after Oregon's chrome helmets reflected the sunset skies of Pasadena at the 106th Rose Bowl, the No. 2 Oregon women's basketball (11-1) unveiled their 20-year throwback uniforms to be worn this season. Center Ruthy Hebard modeled the new-look.

The new white alternate uniforms rock the vintage university logo from 1994-1998 on the shorts. It's unclear if the team will additionally wear darker variants of the throwbacks. 

The Ducks open up conference play wearing the newly revealed look Thursday evening against the undefeated Colorado Buffaloes (12-0) in Matthew Knight Arena at 7:00 p.m. 

Social media loved the new look, including Ducks safety Nick Pickett.

https://twitter.com/treyburgs/status/1213239880420970496

Surprisingly, Sabrina’s 20th career triple double wasn’t the most impressive performance vs. UC Riverside

Surprisingly, Sabrina’s 20th career triple double wasn’t the most impressive performance vs. UC Riverside

It’s not very often that a triple-double is recorded in college basketball, unless your name is Sabrina Ionescu. 

It’s also not very often that a triple-double performance is overshadowed by another teammate's accomplishments. But today, it was. 

Freshman Jaz Shelley dropped a career-high 32 points on 10-for-14 from three-point range. 

After Oregon struggled out of the gate on Monday vs. visiting UC Riverside, the Ducks offense came to life while the Ducks defense remained strong. Oregon outscored UC Riverside 23-6 in the third quarter behind Shelley’s sharp-shooting. Shelley alone hit five three-pointers in the third. Eight of her 10 three-pointers came in the second half of the game.

Shelley now holds the single-game record for three-pointers made in UO history with 10.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT

Shelley is just a freshman. To have this big of an impact from a scoring standpoint is HUGE for the Ducks. The Ducks lead the nation in scoring offense averaging 89.4 points per game. It's not just Shelley's shooting, but she is developing into a huge asset from the point guard position backing up Minyon Moore and Sabrina Ionescu to make for a promising future backcourt.

This came in her first career start, replacing Satou Sabally who is dealing with a shoulder injury.

Ionescu recorded her 20th triple-double in the win: 16 points, 18 rebounds and 12 assists. Ionescu pulled down 35% of the team’s rebounds (51 total).

Also something to note: Oregon recorded 14 steals against UC Riverside.

UP NEXT: The No. 3 Ducks (9-1) host Kansas State at 12 PM (PT) on Saturday, December 21 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Sabrina Ioenscu, No. 3 Oregon Ducks put on a show in front of Kobe Bryant, rout Long Beach State

Sabrina Ioenscu, No. 3 Oregon Ducks put on a show in front of Kobe Bryant, rout Long Beach State

It was more of the same Saturday afternoon for the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (8-1) who blew out Long Beach State (3-7) 81-45 in the Walter Pyramid. But this day, a special guest was in attendance.

5-time NBA Champion and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

One GOAT had a front row seat to watch another GOAT. And the one that played put on a show, including a step back three pointer to end the first quarter.

This wasn’t the first time Kobe has watched Sabrina Ionescu play. He attended the Ducks' game last season at USC on January 11 and later broke down her game on his Detail series on ESPN+ near the end of last season.

She talked about how she was going to use those tips to enhance her game this season at Oregon football’s spring game last April.

Ionescu finished the game with 21 points, 19 in the first half, on 9-14 from the field. The all-time NCAA leader in triple doubles did get 12 rebounds but fell three assists short of adding to her record total. 

As for her teammates, freshman Jaz Shelley led the way with 17 points on 6-10 from the field including a career high five three pointers. 

The Ducks will continue their season against UC Riverside back in Eugene at 11:00am on Monday, December 16.

Oregon WBB starts off signing week with No. 1 recruiting class in 2020

Oregon WBB starts off signing week with No. 1 recruiting class in 2020

The 2020 college basketball season is a year away but for the No. 1 Oregon women’s basketball team and high school seniors across the country, the future started on Wednesday.

The Ducks are probably used to the “No. 1” wording: the No. 1 ranking in the nation; the No. 1 player in the nation in Sabrina Ionescu; and now the No. 1 recruiting class for the 2020 season.

Yesterday, five of the top 33 players in high school hoops signed their National Letters of Intent to join Coach Kelly Graves and the Oregon program.

These players include: Sydney Parrish (a 6-foot, five-star shooting guard from Indiana); Kylee Watson (a 6-foot-3 five-star forward from New Jersey); Maddie Scherr (a 5-foot-11 five-star guard from Kentucky); Angela Dugalic (a 6-foot-4 five-star forward from Illinois); and Te-Hina Paopao (a 5-foot-9 five-star guard from California).

Not to be overlooked, Graves’ elite recruiting has an impact all over the country. Only Paopao is from the west coast. 

222 days ago when Ionescu wrote a letter to Ducks Nation in the Players’ Tribune, she stated that Oregon was building something special. Although Ducks fans are witnessing greatness from Ionescu and for just this final season, the program is sustaining itself for the post-Ionescu (and Ruthy Hebard) era. It just goes to show that she was right; that Oregon is a prestigious basketball program that isn’t run by just one individual. The Ducks have gone from under 1,000 fans attending their games in 2014 to now season tickets being limited ahead of the 2019 season.

The Oregon Ducks aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

MORE ON THE DUCKS

How Oregon can beat Arizona to become kings of the North

Dana Altman will unleash the freshmen soon

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

Oregon senior superstar Sabrina Ionescu is tearing up the record books and becoming a household name. Fresh off a Final Four run, Ionescu and the top-ranked Oregon women’s basketball team have their sights on winning it all this season and earning the program’s first national title. And now, Ducks fans can represent the “Triple-Double Queen.”

Well, once the number 20 jerseys are back in stock, that is.

On Monday afternoon, the Oregon Duck store released a “White Nike Replica Oregon #20 Basketball Jersey” for $75. As of Tuesday morning, the jerseys are sold out in every size. No word on when an official re-stock may happen.

Nike will begin to sell a number 20 Oregon college replica jersey in apple green later in the basketball season. The Duck store will also carry it.

The chance for Oregon fans to purchase the replica jerseys is a long time coming. Ionescu has made her opinion known on social media and fans began a petition to Nike in April.

Ionescu’s support worked and the female star tweeted her gratification.

Oregon’s next game is at home versus Utah State on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Sue Bird: Sabrina's got the "stuff" you can't teach

Sue Bird: Sabrina's got the "stuff" you can't teach

“Ducks Nation — I’ll see you next year. Let’s see some packed houses. Kobe — I’ll see you next year, too. Hope you keep watching. And WNBA — I’ll see you soon. Real soon, I promise. Just have some business to take care of first.”

This was the message to Duck fans 218 days ago from Sabrina Ionescu.

The basketball phenom decided to forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft (as the projected No. 1 overall pick) and return to Oregon for her senior year.

That unfinished business? Perhaps a redemption tour all the way to the NCAA National Championship after a heartbreaking loss in the Final Four last year. But let’s not get too far ahead. 

It all started last night when the Ducks defeated Team USA 93-86 in an exhibition game at Matthew Knight Arena. 

Ionescu dropped 30 points, seven assists and four rebounds over the best in the world. In what felt like a ceremonial passing of the torch from “GOATS” Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi to the next generation of talent, Ionescu absolutely balled out in the spotlight.

From one G.O.A.T. to the next:

“My favorite part about her game right now is just her competitiveness,” said Bird on Ionescu. “She’s very relentless. Even when you think you have her stopped, she keeps coming at you. Those are things you can’t always teach. So as the year goes on, people are going to talk about ‘Can she shoot? Can she do this? Is she good enough for that?’ Who cares. If you’re competitive, that can overcome a lot. And for her, you can’t teach those things and she’s got them.”

High praise for Ionescu coming from one of the very best to ever play the game.

Ionescu and the Ducks have a big season ahead. A preseason No. 1 ranking, a roster loaded with talent from top to bottom, an established fan base and basketball culture in Eugene, and of course, a competitive nature.

The WNBA is waiting. The sponsors will come. A potential shoe deal? Why not! We all know just how dominant Ionescu is and a professional career will begin in due time. 

But for now, enjoy the ride.

“All that stuff will be waiting for her. It’s going to come eventually. She needs to just enjoy this ride,” said Bird. “She’s going to want to finish it right. Speaking from someone who won their senior year (UConn, 2001-02), there’s no better feeling than walking off the court a winner. You literally leave with no regrets. Hopefully she has that mindset.”

Oh, we think she does.

Diana Taurasi’s message to Oregon: Stay mad

img_6027.jpg
NBCSNW

Diana Taurasi’s message to Oregon: Stay mad

EUGENE, OR - It was a night showing off the world’s best vs. the nation’s best. Team USA vs. No. 1 Oregon women’s basketball and it did not disappoint.

In front of an 11,000+ crowd in Matthew Knight Arena, the best of the best was on full display in Team USA’s final stop of their training camp tour. 

In what many, including the Oregon players themselves, thought would be a competitive game but with USA eventually pulling away in the end quickly turned into a “what did we all just witness?” type of feel.

“I mean, we came into the game thinking we have a shot at this… yeah, we’re good but we’re staying humble about it and we know we’re not just going to come out there and beat them by 20,” said junior Satou Sabally following the game. “But I think every team has to go into every game very confident.”

“I think before the game and the week leading up to it, watching the other games, we knew they were the best team in the world, the best players in the world, so we were just going to try and stay within 20,” said senior Sabrina Ionescu, who recorded 30 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Confidence plus talent would do just that and more.

The Ducks went onto victory over Team USA, 93-86.

“As the game continued to go on, we kind of forgot who they were and what the expectations were of them beating us and we were just trying to play our game and play it to perfection,” Ionescu added.

This win wasn’t just like any other, even though it was over the best in the game. No, it all started with a mindset courtesy of Diana Taurasi, the 37-year-old basketball phenom with a killer bun. Before the game, the two teams had the opportunity to meet one another. During this time, Taurasi gave a little piece of advice to the No. 1 team in the nation: Stay mad.

Without knowing the exact context to what experience Taurasi was referencing, one can assume that the Ducks haven’t stopped thinking about last season. A first ever Final Four appearance that ended in a heartbreaking 72-67 loss to Baylor (who would go on to win the National Championship). The Ducks now enter the 2019-2020 season with a chip on their shoulder and a target on their back.

With a mindset of staying mad, drowning out the accolades or the rankings and the talent on the roster, this team is dangerous and it all started tonight.