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Oregon Basketball

Oregon MBB: Report Card Against USF

December 19, 2020
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The Ducks defeated the USF Dons 74-64 with strong performances from Eugene Omoruyi and Eric Williams. I’m starting a new series, handing out grades for the Ducks’ position groups, as well as their areas of performance. The Ducks let the game get a bit close toward the end after once leading by 20 in the second half, but they still pulled it out. Let’s talk about what made this win happen, and what almost made it not.

Position Grades:

Guards: B-

Duarte and Hardy played well, could’ve played better. They both scored 11 against USF, and that’s not something to be waved off, but each player had their negatives as well. Neither contributed well to the team’s 3-point shooting efficiency, with Duarte hitting 1-4 from three, and Hardy hitting none on three attempts. Duarte also looked slower than normal on defense, only grabbing one steal, a low number for the team’s leader in steals who’s averaging 2 a game. Hardy needs to improve his shooting if Oregon is going to continue to improve, and although he most likely will be benched upon Will Richardson’s return, he can still be a valuable bench asset. But right now, he’s shooting 14% from three, and that can’t happen from a starting point guard only averaging 4 assists per game. He scored 11 Thursday night, but for a guy who averages 4 points on the season, you start to wonder where his value comes from. Personally, I couldn’t tell you.

Forwards: A

Eugene Omoruyi came out strong in his first game as a Duck this season, scoring 31 points in a loss to Missouri. After that, he’s been slowing down in scoring game after game, while still making an impact. Yes, if he came out Thursday night and finished with 31 points like he did against Missouri, I’d love that. But 19 points as the game’s scoring leader on a team that’s moving toward less hero-ball scoring, I’m happy with that. Oregon’s other starting forward, Eric Williams had 16 points on 45% shooting. I’m very happy with that, as well. Eric Williams was going to be a key player moving forward for Dana Altman whether or not he was ready to be, so it’s good to see a strong night from him that will hopefully be indicative of the rest of the year.

Centers: B

N’faly Dante, Oregon’s lone center on the roster, started the night off well against USF. He racked up 4 points, 4 rebounds, and a block. This isn’t exactly a great stat line in a vacuum, but unfortunately, Dante left the game with a lower leg injury with 6:30 left in the first half, and didn’t return the rest of the night. A big reason for my B grade despite his low stats was Dante’s energy in the minutes he was able to play. Earlier on in the season I often found myself hoping to see Dante move quicker on plays, particularly on drives when he found himself late to help, and either wound up allowing a layup, or committing a blocking foul. Dante was moving quickly on the balls of his feet, and it allowed for him to get in position earlier to take charges. Now, that still didn’t work out every time, but the key is that Dante seemed more energetic before his injury, so here’s hoping it won't be something severe enough to stop him from continuing that energy the rest of the year. (Update: Dante is out for the year with a Torn ACL. Read more here).

Performance Grades:

Scoring: A-

This was a good team win for the Ducks, and that’s something I’ve only been able to say recently about Oregon’s games this season. This was their third game in a row with four players scoring in double-digits, with their first three games allowing 1 or 2 players to carry the scoring workload. In their season opener, the Ducks saw Omoruyi and Duarte carry the load, scoring 31 points and 22 points, respectively. Fast-forward to Thursday night, and we see 19 from Omoruyi, 16 from Williams, 11 from Duarte, and 11 from Hardy. Oregon doesn’t have a star standout player yet, so this is how you Oregon will go out and beat a formidable opponent like USF. Besides their point totals, their efficiency wasn’t half bad, either. 27-60 to make them 45% from the field, and that includes their 3-point shooting that I’m less than impressed with, but I’ll discuss that in a second. I like what I saw from Oregon’s scoring numbers, and I’d like even more to see them continue distributing their scoring equally across the roster the rest of the season.

3-Point Shooting: F

The Ducks had a very tough shooting night, finishing the night an abysmal 4-19 from the arc. This needs to improve going forward, full stop. You can’t beat ranked teams hitting 4 threes in the entire game. Now, that’s not to say USF isn’t a good team, personally I think you could make the case that their upset over #4 Virginia deserves a ranking of at least #25, but nonetheless they are not a historically powerful team. Oregon’s remaining schedule doesn’t have a team currently ranked anywhere on it, but don’t let that fool you, there are good teams on there, and if Oregon wants to beat teams like USC and Colorado, you need to have better shooting than we saw against USF. While this isn’t completely indicative of how the Ducks have shot from the three this year, with their season average 11 percentage points higher at 32%, that is by no means a strong average. So while this was a bit of an outlier for their season, there’s no question they need to improve their shooting if they want to be ready for their Pac-12 opponents and even past that, their March Madness opponents.

Rebounding: B

Defensive rebounding wasn’t a huge issue for the Ducks against USF, but it wasn’t great either. The Dons accrued 11 offensive boards, leading to 17 total second-chance points. I’d like to see better boxouts from the Duck big men, but USF played feisty and often had their players crash the offensive boards instead of getting back on D, so I won’t harp on that aspect too much. They haven’t shown it to be a huge problem in other games, and I don’t expect it to be one going forward. The Ducks had almost the exact same stat-line as the Dons, grabbing 12 offensive boards for 18 second-chance points. Because almost every offensive rebound was cancelled out by a USF offensive rebound, I give them an average B. Not an outstanding performance, not a bad one.

Turnovers: B+

Similar to their rebounding, the Ducks and the Dons had close to identical stat lines on turnovers. 12 turnovers for the Ducks, 14 for the Dons. Omoruyi and Duarte had 3, Williams had 2, everyone else had 1 or 0. That’s nothing to worry about, in my opinion. If you have two starters that handle the ball a lot with 3 turnovers, and no one else with more than that, you’re sitting pretty. Now, there’s no question you’d love a game with none or close to none, but people need to realize that basketball, and college basketball in particular comes with turnovers. It’s about whether a player is being taken advantage of by the opponent on offense because they can’t control possession of the ball. That didn’t happen, and I haven’t seen that happen from anyone this season, so I don’t see any reason for stress from Duck fans in this category.

Defense: A-

No USF passing lane was safe Thursday night, with Oregon interrupting or intercepting seemingly every kick-out or swing pass the Dons attempted. This amounted to 5 steals for the Ducks in the first half, and 7 total for the night. Oregon’s usual go-to defensive standout, Guard Chris Duarte, stayed relatively quiet on D, only accounting for 1 of the team’s 7 steals. What Thursday did prove however was that the Ducks can still excel on defense even if Duarte has an off night, thanks to senior transfer guard LJ Figueroa. Figueroa had 3 steals in 30 minutes, and did a great job filling in for Dante when he left due to injury. The Ducks finished with 2 blocks as well.

 

USF’s a good team this year, and this win from the Ducks shouldn’t be taken lightly. Especially considering this ten-point win is better than it comes off. They led by 21 at one point, and went on an 11-0 run to start the second half. This team is coming together, and this was a great performance close to heading into Pac-12 play. There are issues to fix no doubt, but I think what the stats don’t show as much as watching the games does is that the chemistry is building, and they’re finding the right style of play for their game. We’ll see how conference play goes, but I think this might be the best team in Pac-12.

 
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