Chris Haynes joins CSN for next three seasons

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Chris Haynes joins CSN for next three seasons

COMCAST SPORTSNET PRESS RELEASE:

Portland,OR (June 8, 2012) ComcastSportsNet Northwest, home for Northwest sports, today announced the addition ofTrail Blazer and NBA Insider, Chris Haynes, with the signing of a three-yearcontract. Haynes, entering his second season with Comcast SportsNet, willcontinue to expand the role he began during the 2011-2012 Trail Blazers seasonon the network and on CSNNW.com breaking news and providing reliable insideinformation alongside CSNNW.coms senior editor Dwight Jaynes. His contract iseffective as of Sunday, July 1st.

Duringthe 2011-12 season, Haynes was the only member of Portland media to attend allTrail Blazers games, home and away. He will continue to be present at everygame, at practices, at shoot-arounds, at press conferences and at major NBAevents bringing exclusive videos, interviews and information to CSNNW.com.Additionally, Haynes will continue his popular Insider Blog on CSNNW.com and hewill be a regular on Comcast SportsNet programs Rip City Live and TalkinBall.

Lastseason, Haynes broke many stories that were continuously picked up by nationaloutlets such as Yahoo, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and HoopsHype. Those storiesincluded Greg Odens issues with blood clots in his ankle, Batums intent tosign his first offer this summer, Jamal Crawfords decision to opt out andSteve Kerr turning down the GM position.

Priorto joining Comcast SportsNet, Haynes wrote for SLAM Magazine andProBasketballNews.com and worked for Fox Sports Radio in Fresno, CA. Haynes hascovered a variety of major sports that include the NBA Finals, the World Seriesand the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament. He is a member of the Pro BasketballWriters Association and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Weare thrilled to have Chris Haynes join our team here at Comcast SportsNet,providing year round coverage of the Trail Blazers for the TV network andCSNNW.com, said Director of Digital Media Kevin Berry. Senior Digital Editorand TV Host Dwight Jaynes said, We believe that Chris tireless work ethic andconnections throughout the NBA with players, coaches, agents and generalmanagers, combined with my decades of experience in covering the league willreinforce the fact that Comcast SportsNet and CSNNW.com are the premieredestinations in the Northwest for fans to find breaking news, unbiased analysisand year-round coverage of the Trail Blazers and NBA.

ReadChris blog at CSNNW.com and follow him on Twitter @ChrisBHaynes.

Blazers skid to another painful loss

Blazers skid to another painful loss

INDIANAPOLIS -- One game after perhaps their most stunning loss of the season, the Trail Blazers absorbed another gut punch Saturday in Indiana when they lost a 20 point lead and eventually disintegrated in the fourth quarter of a 118-111 loss to the Pacers. 

The Blazers (12-13) were a comedy of errors and miscues in the fourth quarter, which included two air balls, a shot that only hit backboard, two passes to no one that ended up in the stands and a five-second inbounding violation. The Blazers at one point went more than 5:30 without a field goal and they started the quarter by missing their first five shots. All told, the Blazers scored 13 points in the fourth, while allowing 28 to Indiana. 

It was the third straight loss for Portland, and this one came even though Damian Lillard (33 points) and CJ McCollum (34 points) were at the top of their offensive games. Indiana, which trailed by eight entering the fourth quarter, sealed the game when Paul George grabbed his own miss from a scrum of players and rose between Lillard and McCollum and dunked, giving Indiana a 114-109 lead with 31.4 seconds left. Indiana improved to 12-12 while avenging a 131-109 loss to Portland earlier this month.

George led the Pacers with 37 points and Thaddeus Young added 24 points and nine rebounds. Indiana made 15-of-29 three-pointers. 

After leading 58-38 in the second quarter, the Blazers led 98-90 entering the fourth, but Indiana scored the first nine points ... as Portland stumbled around. Evan Turner airballed a baseline jumper and a McCollum had a straight-on shot that drew only backboard. Meanwhile, an Allen Crabbe pass intended for Meyers Leonard sailed untouched into the scorers table, and later Lillard passed into the first row of the stands, thinking Mason Plumlee would go one way, when in reality, he went the other.  

Maurice Harkless returned to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday's game in Memphis with a sprained left ankle, and Ed Davis returned to his starting role. Harkless scored the game's first basket on a driving layin and finished with seven points and one rebounds in 31 minutes. Davis had six points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes. Al-Farouq Aminu, who landed hard on his back late in the Memphis loss, warmed up but did not play because of a bruised back. 

Portland built leads as large as 20 in the second quarter, but Indiana fought back and trailed only 71-64 at halftime, thanks in part to the shooting of George, who had 18 points in the half after making four three pointers. The Blazers nearly matched their season high in first points, which came against Indiana in Portland, when they held a 73-58 lead.

Lillard hit his first five three pointers and scored 19 points in the first quarter to boost the Blazers to a 44-31 lead. He also added five assists, helping the Blazers amass their highest scoring first quarter of the season. 

Next up: Blazers at LA Clippers, 7:30 p.m. Monday (CSN).

Podcast:

 

Blazers shooting lights out in 1st half vs. Pacers: Portland up 71-64 at the break

Blazers shooting lights out in 1st half vs. Pacers: Portland up 71-64 at the break

The Portland Trail Blazers continued its five-game road trip on Saturday night when the Blazers tipped off against the Indiana Pacers.

The Blazers did get Maurice Hakrless (left ankle sprain) back from injury.  Coach Stotts decided to go back to the starting lineup of: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Harkless, Mason Plumlee and Ed Davis.

Al-Farouq Aminu (back contusion) was dressed to play even though he was listed as doubtful vs. the Pacers.  Aminu did not play in the first half and is not expected to see any minutes in the second half.

Midway through the first quarter, the Blazers were up 26-11 after starting the game shooting a sizzling 71.4% as a team.

The Blazers ended the first quarter shooting 60.9% from the field, but Portland was shooting even better from three at 63.6%.  As a team, the Pacers shot 47.8% for the quarter. 

Portland held a 44-31 lead after one.

The 44 points scored in the first quarter is a season high for the Blazers.

Damian Lillard led all scorers in the first quarter with 19 points after going 5-for-6 from long distance.

At the break, Portland is up 71-64.  Indiana went on a 9-2 run to end the second quarter.

The Blazers ended the half shooting 59.1% as a team, while the Pacers shot 47.9%.
 

Top performers of the first half:

Trail Blazers

Points:  Damian Lillard, 21

Rebounds:  Ed Davis, 8 

Assist:  Damian Lillard, 5 

 

Pacers

Points:  Paul George, 18

Rebounds:  Al Jefferson, 5

Assist:  Monta Ellis, 5

Following tonight’s game, you can check out an all-new Talkin’ Ball live on CSN.  And if you can’t get to a TV, you can catch The Scoop Postgame show presented by Toyota of Portland on Broadway streaming live at Facebook.com/CSNNW on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Blazers needing bounce-back win, Pacers in second night of back-to-back: POR at IND on CSN

Blazers needing bounce-back win, Pacers in second night of back-to-back: POR at IND on CSN

Trail Blazers vs. Pacers

The Portland Trail Blazers (12-12) take on the Indiana Pacers (11-12) on Saturday for the second and final meeting this season. 

The Blazers are looking to rebound from a disappointing loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.  Portland was in control for a good majority of the game, but the Grizzlies came through in the end to get the, 88-86 win.  In the loss, Portland shot 30.5% for the game.

The Pacers will be playing in the second night of a back-to-back when Indiana hosts the Blazers.   The Pacers were on the road on Friday night in Dallas.  The Mavericks beat the Pacers, 111-103.

It was on November 30th in Portland when the Blazers took the first game of the series against the Pacers, 131-109.  Damian Lillard had 28 points and 10 assists in the victory.  The Pacers were without All-Star Paul George (ankle) in that first meeting between these two teams. 

The Trail Blazers are listing Maurice Harkless (left ankle) as probable; Al-Farouq Aminu (back contusion) as doubtful; and Festu Ezeli (left knee) is out for Saturday’s game.

We will set the stage for the Trail Blazers and Pacers game with The Scoop Pregame Show streaming live at 3:00pm on Facebook.com/CSNNW on your computer, tablet, or phone.  Also, you can check out an all-new Rip City Live on CSN starting at 3:00pm.

 

Quick Links:

Blazers lose a stunner in Memphis with fourth-quarter collapse

Could that be the low point for the Trail Blazers this season?

 

Video:  Davis: “Right now it definitely hurts”

Video:  Plumlee: Gotta make more plays to win that game

Video:  Jason Quick: Going to be a lasting loss, mentally and physically

Video:  Talkin’ Ball: Breaking down the Blazers loss to the Grizzlies

 

 

Game Details:

Where:  Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis IN

Television: CSN, 4:00pm

CSN Programming:  Rip City Live (3:00pm), Talkin' Ball  (Immediately after the Blazers postgame show)

Live streaming: The Scoop Pregame Show streams at 3:00pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/CSNNW

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

A frozen showdown between Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers

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USA Today

A frozen showdown between Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers

BY 

This Sunday, Russell Wilson will return to the home of his college football glory days, and the game will mark just the second time Wilson has appeared in a football uniform in the state of Wisconsin since November of 2011. Between seven home games in his senior year in college and one game played at Lambeau Field in his fourth NFL season, Wilson holds a 7-1 lifetime record in football games played in the state of Wisconsin, with an .875 winning percentage. Wilson’s rival this Sunday, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, has notched 70 professional football games in the state of Wisconsin, and holds a 54-16 record in games he has started, with a .771 winning percentage. 

Today, it would be difficult to find two better NFL QB’s, but just as recently as five years ago, a Wilson-Rodgers duel wouldn’t have sounded like much. Back then, Wilson was the green third round rookie QB who was still learning the speed of the pro game, but he was clearly better than most first year players, and limited his mistakes by leaning on a strong running game and only releasing the ball in high percentage passing situations. It wasn’t always exciting, but it was key in getting him to where he is today. 

By 2012 Rodgers was already a veteran by NFL standards, with a Super Bowl ring, Super Bowl MVP, and regular season MVP in his trophy case. Like Wilson, Rodgers puts a premium on limiting his mistakes, and holds the active record for career passer rating and lowest interception percentage. Number two on both of those lists – Mr. Russell Wilson. Rodgers and Wilson are the only active players with career passer ratings over 100, and if they stay where they are or better, both will retire as the only players in NFL history with a career rating at 100 or higher.

Wilson and Rodgers have faced off four times since 2012, and WIlson won their initial meeting by way of a controversial game-ending touchdown, and the rivalry officially began. Since the opening chapter in their rivalry, Wilson and Rodgers have faced each other three times, with Wilson winning twice, and Rodgers winning the most recent meeting.

In four career games against Wilson, Rodgers has completed 66% of his passes for 839 yards, four touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Over the same span, Wilson has completed 65% of his passes for 736 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Rodgers has attempted at least 33 passes in all four contests, while Wilson has thrown 29 or fewer passes in three of the four matchups. Both passers are hovering around 200 yards per game in the rivalry, and while Wilson has thrown at least one touchdown in all four games including two without a turnover, while Rodgers has avoided turning the ball over in two of the games, but failed to throw a touchdown pass in their first meeting, and has at least one touchdown pass in the three meetings since. 

The home team has won all four matchups in this heated rivalry, with Seattle hosting and winning the first three contests, and Green Bay hosting and winning last season’s matchup. Over the series, Seattle has averaged 24 points per game, and Green Bay has averaged 19.  Two games have been decided by one score, and two games have been decided by at least two scores, making it difficult to gauge reasonable expectations.

The most intense meeting between the two teams came in the 2014 NFC Championship game, where Green Bay led 16-0 at halftime, held a 19-7 lead in the fourth quarter,  failed to close the game out on an onside kick return with the game winding down, and after kicking a field goal to force overtime, gave up a long touchdown pass on Seattle’s opening possession of overtime to end the game. Green Bay won the turnover battle including forcing Russell Wilson into four interceptions, but despite serious injuries that limited Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman late in the game, Mike McCarthy opted for conservative play calls down the stretch, and Seattle’s bold playmakers took advantage and took the victory. 

Green Bay won the meeting last year to make the series a little less lopsided, but Seattle still owns the Packers since drafting Wilson. This year, both sides are missing key players that won’t be back in time for Sunday but that won’t excuse the losing side this weekend.

Despite their gap in records, both teams still really need this win, but for different reasons. Green Bay sits at 6-6, and in third place in the NFC North. In order to keep pace in a very crowded wild card race, the Packers need to win out, or deal with watching the postseason from the couch. Seattle stands at 8-3-1 and currently holds the lead in the NFC West and the #2 seed in the NFC. As long as they stay ahead of the Falcons, Lions, and Giants, they should earn a much needed first round bye as well as host any game not against Dallas.

This matchup will feature a mixed bag of offense and defense, as the Seahawks come in with the league’s 20th best scoring offense at 22 points per game, the 14th ranked passing attack with 256.4 yards per game, and the 20th ranked offense with 101.5 yards per game. They will be facing the Packers 23rd ranked scoring defense allowing 25.2 points, the 16th ranked passing defense allowing 254.2 yards, and the 9th ranked rushing defense allowing 92.9 yards per game.

On the flip side, Green Bay has the 11th ranked scoring offense at 24.6 points per game, the 10th ranked passing attack at 261.2 yards, and the 24th ranked ground attack with 99.1 yards per game. Seattle’s scoring defense is ranked 1st at 16.2 points allowed per game, the 23rd ranked passing defense at 231 yards allowed, and the 14th ranked rush defense at 99.2 yards per game.

For Seattle, with a win they could knock Green Bay out of playoff contention, and put a bigger gap between them and the teams fighting for the top seeds in the NFC playoffs. WIth just three games to go after this week, a losing record will be too much for the Packers to overcome in the NFC playoff hunt, and it should give Seattle the distance it needs to keep the Falcons, Giants, and Lions fighting for the third seed and keep the second seed for themselves.

The gametime temperature this Sunday is expected to be below freezing, leaving Seattle the perfect opportunity to do something cold to the host Packers – end their season. Green Bay could save their season with a win over the Seahawks, but the odds are stacked against them even on their home field.

Seattle reignited their much needed second half surge with a blowout win over Carolina last week, and could make a bigger statement with a win in Green Bay followed by a favorable schedule over the final three weeks against teams with losing records. Can the Seahawks string a pair of wins together and put a stop to their see-saw season? We’ll find out this Sunday.

Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton – Week 14

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USA Today

Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton – Week 14

BY  

You know what they say about the number thirteen, right?

Well let’s just say that last week sucked for me. 1-4. That’s the worst week since Week Two.

If I want to get back to .500 for the season I need to nail 15 picks in a row. Tall task, so straight to the picks!

Washington Redskins -2 @ Philadelphia Eagles

When these two teams met up in October the Redskins handed the Eagles only their second loss of the season. They dominated a game that ended with a final score of 27-20. But it wasn’t even that close.

Washington had 493 yards of total offense. Philadelphia had 239.

Washington sacked Carson Wentz 5 times. Philadelphia didn’t get to Kirk Cousins once.

Since that game the Redskins are 2-3-1, the Eagles are 2-5.

The difference in this game is the fact that the Redskins need this win to bolster their chances of making the Playoffs in an increasingly competitive NFC. Because of their tie earlier in the season, the Redskins are a half game behind the Buccaneers. A win against the struggling Eagles would go a long way to propelling them to play into January.

Redskins 28 – Eagles 17

Pittsburgh Steelers -2 @ Buffalo Bills

This is one of the more interesting games of the week. The Steelers pretty much dismantled the Giants last week in Pittsburgh. The score board at the end of the game showed 24-14 but it felt much, much worse.

Pittsburgh is a team that is getting better every week, while a lot of teams around the league are getting worse.

Both of these teams are on the outside looking in when it comes to the Playoffs, but they are both hoping to make a late push to make the postseason.

When it is a close matchup I like to pick the better quarterback, and in this matchup, it isn’t even close. Expect Ben Roethlisberger to pick apart the talented secondary, especially with new weapon Ladarius Green finally healthy.

Steelers 31 – Bills 21

Dallas Cowboys -3 @ New York Giants

This is the game that the Cowboys have been waiting for since September 11th.

In that week one matchup, the Cowboys controlled the time of possession and had more total yards than the Giants. In the end, Eli Manning was the most established quarterback in the game and found a way to beat a Cowboys team that had yet to form their identity.

Thirteen weeks into the season, the Cowboys have an identity, that identity is as the best team in the league.

Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott are legitimate MVP candidates. The defense has developed a bend-but-don’t-break mentality good enough for 5th best in the league in points allowed, allowing only 19 per game. This is a team that is hungry to prove they belong.

Look for the Cowboys to control the clock, score early, and win the game to be crowned as NFC East Champs.

Cowboys 26 – Giants 21

Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers +3

This is one that I have gone back and forth on but feel pretty comfortable about.

The high temperature on Sunday is supposed to be a balmy 29 degrees. That is not conducive to much, let alone football. But it sure seems like the Packers typically embrace the weather as an advantage.

Neither team loves taking the field in below freezing temperatures. The ball is hard. Your feet burn. Your muscles cool down much quicker. But it’s part of the game.

From the Seahawks perspective, they are going to miss have Earl Thomas roaming center field for them on the defensive side of the ball. He is their ironman and their captain; they don’t know what it will be like without him out there. This offense has had its ups and downs this season; can they follow up a huge performance last week against a tough run defense?

On the Packer’s side, this is a must-win. The Packers need to really run the table to get to the postseason. They need to find a way to exploit the back end of the Seahawks’ defense without Thomas playing the middle portion of the Cover 3. Jordy Nelson could have a big game on the seam route.

Packers 20 – Seahawks 18

Upset Special of the Week:

New Orleans Saints +3 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs have won 4 in a row, the Saints have lost 3 out of the last 4. Why in the world would I pick the Saints to win on the road?

Drew Brees.

The sub-6’ quarterback continues to amaze. The Saints’ offense is the second highest scoring team in the league, scoring 28.9 points per game. Brees leads the league in passing yards (3913) and passing TDs (30). Brees also has the 4th best passer rating in the league. The future hall of famer is better than what his teams’ record indicates.

On the other side of the field, the Bucs are a prideful and enthusiastic bunch that enjoys playing together, it is apparent. My one real concern is the longevity of the momentum that they have. Their upcoming schedule is not easy for a young team trying to make the Playoffs.

Vs. Saints, @ Cowboys, @ Saints, vs. Panthers.

To make the Playoffs, they need to at least split those games. They likely won’t beat the Saints twice in three weeks, and the Cowboys are the best team in the league. This is an important game for the Bucs but they are going to fall short in the big spot.

Saints 38 – Bucs 35

  Wins Losses Push Percentage
Week One 1 3 1 30%
Week Two 1 4 0 20%
Week Three 2 3 0 40%
Week Four 2 3 0 40%
Week Five 3 2 0 60%
Week Six 2 2 1 50%
Week Seven 3 2 0 60%
Week Eight 2 3 0 40%
Week Nine 3 1 1 70%
Week Ten 3 2 0 60%
Week Eleven 3 2 0 60%
Week Twelve 2 2 1 50%
Week Fourteen 1 4 0 20%
OVERALL 28 33 4 46%

 

Interesting facts about Oregon coach Willie Taggart's $16 million contract

Interesting facts about Oregon coach Willie Taggart's $16 million contract

New Oregon football coach Willie Taggart has been offered a five-year, $16 million contract. He has yet to sign it because he is out recruiting. Here are some interesting tidbits from the contract:

  • Huge raise: Taggart will be paid $2.9 million in his first season. His contract at South Florida was for $9 million over five years. He made $1.7 million this season. Taggart's predecessor at UO, Mark Helfrich, was in the second year of a five-year, $17.5 million contract when he got fired on Nov. 29. 
  • Escalating pay: Taggart's contract escalates each season, moving to $3,050,000 in 2018, then to $3.2 million (2019), $3.35 million (2020) and finally $3.5 million (2021).
  • APR incentives: Taggart will receive a $100,000 bonus if the team earns an academic progress rate (APR) of 985 or greater.
  • National title: Taggart would receive a $500,000 bonus if the team wins a national title. He would receive a bonus of $250,000 for reaching the national title game. A $200,000 bonus would be awarded for reaching the national playoffs. Winning the national title would earn Taggart a post-season bonus of $950,000. 
  • Pac-12 Conference: Taggart would receive a $150,000 bonus for winning the conference title, and $100,000 for simply winning the North Division.  
  • Victories: Taggart would receive bonuses for reaching nine victories or more. The ninth win in a season pays him $100,000, 10 victories pays an additional $100,000, 11 victories is worth an additional $200,000 and 12 victories is worth another $250,000 for a total of $650,000. 
  • Total bonus tied to winning it all: Winning 12 games, the north division, the Pac-12 and national title would net Taggart an overall performance bonuses of $1.85 million. 
  • Individual awards: Taggart being named Pac-12 coach of the year would be worth a $25,000 bonus. Being named national coach of the year by the Associated Press or Walter Camp would be worth an additional $50,000. 
  • South Florida buyout: The contract states that Oregon "will pay buyout owed directly to current employer not to exceed $1.7M.
  • Contract dates: The first year of Taggart's contract runs from Dec. 7, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2018. Each additional year runs from Feb. 1 through Jan. 31 of the following year. 
  • Country club: Taggart and his family will receive membership into the Eugene Country Club. However, Taggart would have to pay for extra expenses such as "electric carts, lockers, restaurant charges and lessons."
  • Athletic membership: Taggart and his family will be provided with a membership to the Downtown Athletic Club. 
  • UO game tickets/suite: Taggart will receive 12 tickets to each home football game and four tickets to any other Oregon home athletic event. Taggart will be provided with use of a premium Autzen Stadium skybox suite for home football games.
  • Family travel to road games: Oregon will pay for Taggart's family to travel to away games. 
  • Ducks swag: Taggart will receive a "reasonable" amount of apparel, equipment, and shoes.

 

Could that be the low point for the Trail Blazers this season?

Could that be the low point for the Trail Blazers this season?

I can't remember a more disappointing and, at the same time, surprising performance by the Trail Blazers this season. That 88-86 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies was grizzly, all right. Grim.

Let's start with the fact that Memphis was without Mike Conley, Vince Carter, James Ennis, Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright. The Grizzlies were basically Marc Gasol and Tony Allen against the world. The Trail Blazers dominated the Grizzlies nearly the whole game but could never put them away.

The Portland lead was 77-64 with 7:13 to play in this very slow-paced game and 79-68 wth 5:11 left. But Gasol got wide open for a three-point field goal and Troy Daniels drilled one that was officially called a 30-footer with 1:35 to play that gave Memphis a one-point lead. Then Toney Douglas, signed off his couch at home Dec. 5, hammered home a jumper and two free throws for another one-point lead. After Mason Plumlee tied the game for the final time with a free-throw, Douglas hit two more foul shots to win it for the Grizzlies.

You can talk about the foul call on Damian Lillard that sent Douglas to the line, but in a game like this it's absurd to bring the officiating into the conversation. Officials had nothing to do with the outcome of this contest. With the game on the line, Portland made just four of 19 shots in the fourth quarter, 21.1 percent. For the game, the Trail Blazers shot just 30.5 percent from the field -- their worst in a decade! -- and only 25 percent from three-point range.

This game was a total mess, as ugly as you'll ever see the NBA get. If you want to look at individual Portland shooting totals you can find the official league box score here -- but be ready to cover your eyes. Yes, Memphis shot poorly, too. But mostly that was players who normally wouldn't be on the floor at key times of an NBA game. Gasol was the one player Portland needed to defend and that never got done.

The Trail Blazers missed plenty of shots in the paint and too many from three-point range. I had a thought at one point about the team's three-point shooting that I should pass along, too.

Perhaps the reason that players shoot better from three in Portland than in other places is that they get open ones with the Trail Blazers that they didn't get elsewhere. The system is tried and true for three-point shooters. And, too, players are encouraged to shoot them here like they were nowhere else. Over and over, we've heard about Coach Terry Stotts chastising his players for passing up open shots -- not for gunning them up. Certainly, showing confidence in players is a key part of getting them to play their best.

But. BUT. When a player is going through a tough time making threes -- and isn't really a great three-point shooter in the first place -- I think it's important to have that shooter be a little more judicious with his shots. And I'm talking about Al-Farouq Aminu.

He's shooting 20.5 percent from three-point range and most of the time, he's not even close. Sure,  I know all about shooters shooting their way out of slumps. I'm just not sure he's much of a shooter in the first place, in spite of his relative success last season. And at least for now, in the midst of tight games, I think he should be restrained a bit.

But that's just a nitpick right now. While the defense seems to be better, the offense now has gotten inconsistent.

There's a positive sign after that game at Memphis, though: There is nowhere to go but up.

 

Tony Dungy predicts success for Willie Taggart at Oregon

Tony Dungy predicts success for Willie Taggart at Oregon

Willie Taggart might not have been the flashy hire some hoped for when Oregon went searching for a new football coach. Nevertheless, he does come very well respected, most notably by Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, a friend to the Ducks' program.

Dungy first got to know Willie Taggart, introduced Thursday as UO's next coach, when he was a candidate to become the head coach at South Florida in 2012.

Dungy, whose son Eric Dungy played wide receiver at Oregon before transferring to play for the Bulls, said he sat in on Taggart's interview with South Florida (Tampa, Fla.) and came away extremely impressed with the young coach. At the time, Taggart had already transformed Western Kentucky from a winless program in 2010 (before he arrived) to a 7-5 team in his final two years with the Hilltoppers (2011 and 2012).

“Coach Taggart came in and he was very impressive with his plan of attack and how he thought things would go in rebuilding South Florida’s program," Dungy said during an appearance Thursday on CSN's Talkin' Ducks, which televised Taggart's introductory press conference from Eugene. 

Over the next four seasons, Dungy, who lives in Tampa, served as a mentor to Taggart while he rebuilt No. 25 South Florida from a 2-10 team in 2013 to 10-2 this season. That effort contributed to Dungy recommending Taggart to Oregon after the Ducks fired Mark Helfrich on Nov. 29 following a 4-8 season. 

“I just said, ‘hey, he is the kind of the guy I would want my son to play for,'” Dungy said. 

Eric Dungy transferred to South Florida before the 2014 season when the Bulls went 4-8 his senior year. It was a sharp drop in winning for Dungy who had been a part of 10-plus win teams during his entire career at Oregon.

Tony Dungy said that Taggart stuck with his rebuilding philosophy until the players finally bought in and everything began to click with an 8-5 season in 2015 after a 1-3 start. 

“The thing that I think (Eric) really liked about coach Taggart was that he was consistent," Tony Dungy said. "Didn’t matter, win, loss he was the same and that’s what Eric really appreciated.”

Tony Dungy said he foresees Taggart making a great impact on the Oregon program.

“I think they are going to be successful and I don’t think it’s going to take a long period of time,” Dungy said.

Dungy acknowledged that Oregon presents a higher level of expectations. 

“I don’t think they are going to be as patient as they were in South Florida,” Dungy said. 

Dungy went on to state that he would be there for Taggart to offer advice, as he has done for his son's coaches while at Oregon.

“We talk football a lot," Dungy said. "He’s been a good friend, but more than that I’m always available. I was there for coach (Chip) Kelly.  He would call me occasionally when things would come up...Coach Helfrich (as well). So, I’m going to support the university and definitely coach Taggart.”

Dungy, who coached the Indianapolis Colts to a victory in Super Bowl XLI, said that for success to take place at Oregon, Taggart must get started on three important objectives. First he must ingratiate himself with current Oregon players still shocked by the coaching transition that could end with a complete overhaul of the entire staff. Next, Dungy said, Taggart must get his staff in place as soon as possible. Finally, Taggart and his staff must hit the recruiting trail hard to save the 2017 class from falling to pieces. A few players have already decommitted since Helfrich's firing. 

“He’s going to have to introduce himself to all of those people and get a sense of the West Coast and the different areas that Oregon recruits in," Dungy said. "But he will be fine. He has a lot to sell.”

Taggart plans to talk to current Oregon assistants

Taggart plans to talk to current Oregon assistants

EUGENE - New Oregon coach Willie Taggart said during today's introductory press conference at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex that he planned to meet with each of the Ducks' assistant coaches to see if they fit with his plans moving forward.

"I'd really like to talk with those guys and see if they are a good fit for what we're trying to do," Taggart said. "I think it's really important that we get the right fit. That's so important in hiring a staff. For me personally, I want to make sure that we hire a staff that's going to capture the hearts and the minds of our football players. That's probably the most important thing for me. They have to be great mentors to our guys to help them accomplish all of the things that they want to capture as a young man." 

Taggart, hired Wednesday to replace Mark Helfrich who was fired last week after four seasons, will be in charge of putting together his own staff, and he must do so quickly. Taggart and his new staff must get to work on salvaging the 2017 recruiting class that Rivals.com ranks 43rd in the country. It ranked in the low 20s before Helfrich was fired and some key recruits withdrew their commitments.

Oregon has several long-time assistant coaches who have been at Oregon from between 14 and 34 years. But chances are that Taggart doesn't keep any more than one or two assistants if any at all. 

It's almost a lock that the entire defensive staff will be replaced, starting with defensive coordinator Brady Hoke. 

University president Michael H. Schill, who spoke first during the press conference held in a team theater, joked that his only football advice for Taggart was for him to "go find a great defensive coordinator."

Taggart himself later said that doing so was one of his top goals.  Oregon ranked 126th out of 128 teams in total defense.

Offensively, coaches like offensive line coach Steve Greatwood, running backs coach Gary Campbell, who could be set to retire, and quarterbacks coach David Yost appear to have the best chance to stick around. Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick will likely be replaced. 

Greatwood has developed a strong offensive line that includes four redshirt freshman while Yost has helped with the development of freshman quarterback Justin Herbert, a promising star.

Still, chances are that none will be retained. This change has the feel of a complete reboot.