Oregon wide receiver Jalen Brown announces he will transfer

Oregon wide receiver Jalen Brown announces he will transfer

Oregon wide receiver Jalen Brown announced today via Twitter (below) that he plans to transfer after three seasons with the Ducks. 

The redshirt junior stated that he has received permission from Oregon to seek another program to join but also stated that he planned to remain at Oregon until June in order to graduate in three years.

Graduating would allow Brown to transfer to another FBS program without sitting out a season. However, if he waits until June to do so he would miss attending spring drills with his new team, which probably wouldn't help him in terms of earning more playing time with a new team than he would with Oregon in 2017. 

Brown caught 19 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns in 2016, and also threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darren Carrington. Brown in 2015 caught seven receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown as a redshirt freshman. 

With Devon Allen (injury) and Dwayne Stanford (graduation) moving on, Brown is in effect the team's No. 3 receiver behind redshirt senior Darren Carrington II and senior Charles Nelson.  That pecking order sets up Brown to potentially be the Ducks' No. 1 receiver in 2017.

Former four-star recruits, sophomore Dillon Mitchell and redshirt sophomore Alex Ofodile round out the projected top five for 2017.

Without Brown, Mitchell and Ofodile would see increased roles. Ofodile caught one pass for eight yards last season while Mitchell had two receptions for nine yards, but did display skills as a punt returner last in the season. 

Reports: Former Oregon TE Colt Lyerla arrested for heroin, forgery

Reports: Former Oregon TE Colt Lyerla arrested for heroin, forgery

Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla has been arrested once again, according to multiple reports.

According to KGW.com, Hillsboro Police arrested Lyerla Monday afternoon and charged him with possession of heroin, forgery and probation violation.

Lyerla, who on March 14 was sentenced to 18 months probation after being convicted of felony possession of heroin following an arrest last August, was caught passing counterfeit bills around Hillsboro before being arrested.

Lyerla pled guilty to cocaine possession in December of 2013 shortly after leaving the Oregon football program.

Lyerla has booked into the Washington County Jail. 

Oregon's Dana Altman has upset NC's Roy Williams before, can he do it again?

Oregon's Dana Altman has upset NC's Roy Williams before, can he do it again?

Oregon coach Dana Altman has steadily been establishing himself as an elite coach on a national level. Guiding the Ducks to the Final Four this weekend in Glendale, Ariz., is his crowing achievement.

On Saturday, Altman will take on a certified legend within the profession in North Carolina coach Roy Williams (814-216), winner of two national titles with the Tar Heels (31-7).

“He’s very well respected in the coaching ranks,” Altman (597-312) said during a recent teleconference. “He’s done an outstanding job for a long, long time. As a coach I admire that and I think the coaching profession does.”

The 66-year-old Williams’ resume is off the charts. In 14 seasons with the Tar Heels he has won two national titles, lost the title game last year, been to five Final Fours, eight Elite Eights and nine Sweet 16s.

At Kansas – a Williams' era Altman is all too familiar with - from 1988 through 2003, Williams reached the championship game twice (lost both), the Final Four four times, the Elite Eight five times and the Sweet 16 nine times.

All told, Williams has made 27 NCAA Tournament appearances. He has reached the Sweet 16 a total of 18 times, the Elite Eight 13 times, the Final Four nine times, the championship game four times and has two national titles.

Altman, 58, said he most admires Williams' ability to steadily put good teams on the court.  

“The consistency with how hard his teams play game in and game out, not only are they consistent from year to year, but game in, game out, they just perform," Altman said. 

No. 3 Oregon (33-5) plays No. 1 North Carolina in the Final Four on Saturday when Altman will try to pull off the upset against William’s team favored by 4 ½ points. Altman has achieved big upset wins over Williams in the past.

Altman coached at Kansas State as an assistant from 1986 through 1989 and then as the head coach from 1990 through 1994.  Williams spent 16 years as the head coach at Kansas from 1998 through 2003 before heading to North Carolina.

Kansas, a national power then and now, dominated the rivalry, but on Jan. 17, 1994, when the Jayhawks were ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Wildcats pulled off a 68-64 upset win at Allen Fieldhouse.  It was one of four conference wins for Kansas State that season.

“Guys stepped up and it was one of the times we got ‘em,” Altman said. “It was a big upset. I was really happy with the guys.”

Kansas got its revenge, however, taking down the Wildcats, 65-56 on the road on Feb. 12, and then again 73-52 during the first round of the Big Eight Tournament on Mar. 11.

Kansas went on to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament that season. KSU finished the season 20-14 (4-10).

Overall, Williams went 8-2 against Altman during their in-state rivalry. Altman got a win over Williams in the semifinals of the Big Eight Tournament on Mar. 13, 1993 by the score of 74-67 after losing to the Wildcats twice during the regular season.

“That was a long time ago and we had some good games, but unfortunately he won most of them,” Altman said. “Roy was doing a great job at Kansas, but we upset him a couple of times.”

Williams is doing another great job at North Carolina and as fate would have it, Altman will get another crack at pulling off an upset over his former rival. 

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.

No. 3 Oregon will face storied No. 1 North Carolina in the Final Four

No. 3 Oregon will face storied No. 1 North Carolina in the Final Four

The Oregon Ducks went through a legendary Kansas program to reach the Final Four where they will face an even more storied college basketball program in North Carolina at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Final Four in Phoenix, Ariz.  

The No. 1 Tar Heels won the South Region today by defeating No. 2 Kentucky, 75-73 in Memphis, Tenn.  

Oregon (33-5) put on a spectacular performance while upsetting the No. 1 Jayhawks (31-5) in the Midwest Regional finals Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.  The Ducks might need an equally great showing to do the same to the Tar Heels (31-7). 

North Carolina is one of the deepest teams in the nation, often playing a 10-man rotation, as it did Sunday against the Wildcats (32-5). 

Plus, the Tar Heels have tons of front court depth, something UO sorely lacks. The Ducks play just two players taller than 6-foot-7, junior forward Jordan Bell (6-9) and junior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams (6-10). Only Bell is a consistent performer. So much so that he was named the Midwest Regional MVP

The Tar Hells, coached by Roy Williams (814-216 overall, 396-115 at NC), rotate five players that stand 6-8 or better: Senior Kennedy Meeks (6-10), freshman Tony Bradley (6-10), senior Isaiah Hicks (6-9), junior Justin Jackson (6-8) and sophomore Luke Maye (6-8).

Maye hit the game-winning jump shot with .3 seconds remaining to defeat Kentucky. Jackson is an All-American averaging 18.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Meeks gives the Tar Heels 12.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. 

Despite all of the team's size, NC averages a modest three blocked shots per game. Bell had eight blocks against Kansas and is averaging 2.3 on the season. 

North Carolina has an elite point guard in Joel Berry II, who is averaging 14.7 points and 3.6 assists per game. 

NC's size certainly will provide a test inside for the Ducks. But Oregon can counter with the hottest offensive player in the nation in sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, and Pac-12 player of the year, junior forward Dillon Brooks. 

History of success is certainly on North Carolina's side. The Tar Heels, producer of legendary stars like James Worthy, Michael Jordan and Vince Carter, will be going to their 20th Final Four seeking their sixth national title. Most recent titles came in 209 and 2005. NC lost the national championship game last season to Villanova. 

The Ducks will be making their first trip to the Final Four, but second to the semifinals. When the Ducks won the 1939 national title there was no formal Final Four round held at a single site. 

Oregon fulfills Final Four dreams through steely resolve

Oregon fulfills Final Four dreams through steely resolve

KANSAS CITY - The sting of losing to Oklahoma in last year's West Regional finals lingered for Oregon Saturday night against Kansas in the Midwest Regional finals at the Sprint Center. The pain served as reminder to these Ducks. Motivated them. Made them stronger.  Convinced them they had to do whatever was necessary to avoid such devastation from happening again. 

So despite not having a key cog in senior forward Chris Boucher (knee), despite being an underdog to a No. 1 Kansas team with arguably more raw talent accustomed to destroying opponents, and despite facing the Jayhawks in an arena just 45 minutes from Kansas' campus and filled with fans wearing blue and red, the Oregon Ducks rose to the challenge and did the improbable, winning 74-60 to earn the program's first trip to the Final Four since 1939.

"Best moment ever," UO forward Jordan Bell said. "Only thing that could top this is winning the national championship."

Saturday was, without a doubt, a monumental night not only for UO's basketball program but also for the athletic department as a whole. Oregon has tasted great success in many different sports during the past two decades, but always seemed to be one step behind the major powers when it came to men's basketball.

Three times in the last 15 years (2002, 2007 and 2016) the Ducks had failed to cash in on Elite Eight appearances, including last season when the UO lost 80-68 to Oklahoma in Anaheim, Calif. Oklahoma's veteran team played with far more confidence and continuity than Oregon that night. The Ducks knew it.

"That feeling in the locker room last year knowing you were so close to the Final Four, where you wanted to get to, we don’t want to feel that again,” UO junior forward Casey Benson said. 

But rather than run from that disappointment, the No. 3 Ducks (33-5) embraced it, redirected it and transformed it into rocket fuel that had them flying high with confidence all night against Kansas, shocking the 18,663 in attendance. 

“That was always in the back of our minds - Oklahoma,” junior forward Dillon Brooks said.

Added Bell": “It helped us out so much."  

UO coach Dana Altman sensed his team's laser-like focus following the Ducks' 69-68 win over Michigan Thursday night in the Sweet 16. It contrasted last year's reaction to defeating famed Duke in the same round. 

 "First of all, we felt so good after beating Duke and we patted ourselves on the backs so much that we didn't have that edge when we played Oklahoma," Altman said.

Altman saw a different demeanor from his team after a narrow victory over the Wolverines.

"I was real happy when I came in [the locker room] after the Michigan game and we weren't celebrating," Altman said. "We were focused on, we got one more game here. So I thought maybe the experience of a year ago maybe helped us."

The Ducks' defense was ferocious on Saturday. Bell had eight blocked shots and altered about a dozen others while the perimeter defenders rarely allowed good looks for Kansas, which shot 20 percent from three-point range, including 1 of 15 in the second half. The Jayhawks shot 35 percent overall. 

On offense, the Ducks faced a tough defense but time after time found a way to stick a huge jumper or get a big offensive rebound which lead to 13 second-chance points. 

Leading the offense's charge was sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, who continued his amazing postseason play with 27 points on 9 of 13 shooting, including 6 of 10 from three-point range. 

But this win wasn't as much about statistics as it was about how much Oregon appeared to be in command of its nerves, emotions and focus in such a hostile environment swirling with intense pressure. 

The Ducks simply didn't care what the fans did, or what Kansas tried to do. And early on, they knew they could shock the college basketball world against a team that dismantled its first three NCAA Tournament opponents by a combined count of 288 to 198.

“When we were hitting shots and we were playing defense and not letting them score, we knew that it was possible,” Brooks said.

Each positive moment raised the team's confidence and put the Kansas fans into shock mode. They cheered with every sign of life from the Jayhawks only to be settled down with each Oregon response. 

“As a road team, essentially, that was big," said Benson, who scored on an amazing finger roll play in the first half. "Obviously we didn’t want to let the crowd get into it.”

Helping to propel Oregon were public slights here and there. 

“Guys over at CBS were saying that we’re nothing and we have no defense without Chris Boucher and we disproved that today by locking in on one of the best offensive teams in the country,” Brooks said.

This quest began immediately after last season when Bell met with Altman. 

“I made a promise to coach Altman that I was going to get him to the Final Four before I left, so I had to just play my butt off,” Bell said. 

His belief came from the emotions the team displayed after last season. 

“I saw the players we had and the determination we had and I saw the hurt form losing last year,” Bell said.  “I knew we had it.”

Brooks made the same promise to Altman.  

“We wanted to win the Pac-12 and we did, then we wanted more,” Brooks said. “We got hungry. We got a little greedy.”

They got a little edgy. 

No maybe about it. That experience last season brought the team together and it showed on Saturday. 

“Playing for one another and playing for coach we’re going to Final Four… ” Benson said. “Coming in we were a confident bunch and we all really like each other.”

Tyler Dorsey "shushes" pro-Kansas crowd, deliveres another great showing

Tyler Dorsey "shushes" pro-Kansas crowd, deliveres another great showing

KANSAS CITY - Oregon sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey has moved beyond simply being hot this postseason and has landed in some other state of lucid being that many athletes never experience. 

Dorsey scored 27 points Saturday night during the Ducks' 74-60 win over Kansas in the Midwest Regional finals while making 9 of 13 shots, including 6 of 10 from three-point range. Two of his 3-point shots at the Sprint Center won't soon be forgotten by Kansas' players or fans. 

The latter came shortly after Kansas had decreased its deficit to 66-60 with just over two minutes remaining. The Jayhawks' defense cranked up the heat and forced Dorsey to throw up a desperation shot as the shot clock moved to zero.

Somehow, No. 1 Kansas (31-5) failed to get the defensive rebound and UO forward Jordan Bell ended up with the ball.

"We was running a play that was supposed to go down the gut to Jordan and I wasn't playing attention to the shot clock," Dorsey said. "So, it was my fault and when I was looking at it and I just threw up a desperation shot and I guess they didn't box out and Jordan got a big rebound."

Eventually it made its way back into the hands of Dorsey, who stuck a three to give the No. 3 Ducks (33-5) a 69-60 lead with 1:49 remaining. 

"We caught a break there and Jordan got the rebound and we got to set up another play and TD hit a clutch shot to put us up 9," UO forward Dillon Brooks said. 

That was just about that for the Jayhawks and Dorsey knew it. As he ran back down the court, Dorsey put one finger to his lips as if to tell the mostly ultra pro-Kansas crowd of 18,643 that had been so loud during that possession to "shush." 

“I sent messages throughout the game," Dorsey said. 'That was a big shot and I always have something to do after I make a big shot.”

Dorsey has made big shot after big shot in this tournament after lighting up the Pac-12 Tournament. In seven games he is averaging 23.5 points on Dorsey during the postseason is averaging 23 points per game and is shooting 62.3 percent shooting, including 57.8 percent from three-point range. 

But Saturday's was his best performance of the postseason. 

While Bell destroyed the Kansas offense with 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots, Dorsey did most of the major damage at the other end. The Jayhawks had no answer for him. 

"Tyler, I mean, his -- the way he stepped up in the tournament was unbelievable," UO coach Dana Altman said. "He is playing with tremendous confidence, not only making plays for himself but his teammates and defensively he was solid."

No moment displayed how hot Dorsey is than at the end of the first half.

First he nailed a three-pointer that bounced high off the rim, then off the backboard and down into the basket. On the Ducks' next possession, Dorsey ran down the game clock then launched a deep three that went off the backboard and in at the halftime buzzer to give the Ducks a 44-33 lead. 

When you're hot you're hot. 

Kansas coach Bill Self said that sequence truly hurt Kansas.

"We're down five and hadn't played very well in the first half with a minute 50 left and they bang in those two -- well, they banged in the two threes in the last 45 seconds that made a close game, an 11-point game and certainly put a lot of game pressure on us," he said. 

As for Dorsey's clutch three near the end of the game, Self said it was another example of the Ducks making shots despite good Kansas defense. 

"The other thing they did a great job of was how many times did they make shots at the end of the clock that were pretty well defended," Self said. 

Most of that came from Dorsey, who this month has gone from inconsistent mystery to Oregon legend. 

Jordan Bell intimidates Kansas, sets tone for Ducks in 74-60 win

Jordan Bell intimidates Kansas, sets tone for Ducks in 74-60 win

KANSAS CITY - Oregon junior forward Jordan Bell wasn't impressed with Kansas center Landen Lucas. Bell didn't fear future NBA first-round draft pick, Josh Jackson. Bell certainly had few concerns about Jayhawks' stalwarts, Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham. 

But they all certainly had Bell on their minds during the Ducks' 74-60 win over Kansas in the Midwest Regional finals of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night at the Sprint Center. 

Bell, Oregon's lone impact big man with senior Chris Boucher (knee) out, completely disrupted, discombobulated and destroyed Kansas' offense and interior defense with 11 points, 13 rebounds (seven offensive, helping UO get 13 second-chance points) and a whopping eight blocked shots. Oh, and Bell added four assists (there were also four turnovers, but we don't need to get into that) just for good measure.

Still, the MVP of the Midwest Region didn't appear to be completely satisfied with his play during an upset win that sent the Ducks to the Final Four. 

“I think I played alright," Bell said. "I let a couple of layups get in.”

Nobody is perfect. Kansas (31-5) will only remember all the shots they missed while shooting 35 percent on the night and 28.1 percent in the second half. 

The Ducks (33-5) played great team defense, but the undeniable factor was Bell, who from the outset made it know that anyone who ventured into the paint with the basketball ran the high risk of having their shot sent back with a vengeance. Bell intimated Kansas so much that it became clear they were looking for him at all times, even when Jayhawks got inside for good looks. 

“From the get-go he was altering shots, blocking shots, just flying around," UO junior guard Casey Benson said. "He brought so much energy tonight...I’ve seen Jordan play some good games but that might be the best I’ve ever seen him play, to be honest with you."

Bell said he didn't believe he changed Kansas' game plan, and he is correct.

“They kept going," he pointed out. "They’re great offensive players over there. I don’t really think I changed their mind (about going inside). I mean, they kept going and I had eight blocks.”

On the other hand, Bell certainly altered Kansas' confidence inside. 

"He controlled and anchored their defense very well, and I certainly understand why he was (defensive) player of the year in the Pac-12," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "But even with that being said, there were numerous times where I thought especially when we got to the bonus relatively early in the second half that we could have done a better job of trying to draw fouls driving the ball as opposed to shooting so many semi or guarded threes that we came up empty on.

Maybe so, but few shots were falling from anywhere for Kansas, which made just five of 25 three-point attempts. What killed the Jayhawks were the many short shots and potential layups that Bell either rejected or altered just enough to make them bounce off the rim. 

Remember, this Kansas team averaged 83.2 points per game on the season and entered the night having outscored its first three tournament opponents, 288 to 198. 

"That may have been his best performance in his three years," UO coach Dana Altman said. "He was phenomenal today. He set the tone early. I thought that was really important. I said in the locker room that he played like we had Chris and him out there. He dominated inside."

Although Bell remembered the imperfections in his game, he also saw the good. 

“I think this is the best I’ve ever played in college basketball," Bell said. "I shine in big moments like this.”

He simply believes, frighteningly so, that he could play even better. 

Oregon swats away No. 1 Kansas, 74-60, advances to Final Four

Oregon swats away No. 1 Kansas, 74-60, advances to Final Four

Oregon 74, Kansas 60 

How Oregon won: No. 3 Oregon (33-5) shot the lights out all night and played spirited and aggressive defense against No. 1 Kansas (31-5) to stun the mostly pro-Jayhwks crowd of 18,643 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., and win 74-60 to advance to the Final Four in Phoenix, Ariz.

Oregon got off to a fantastic start shooting 60 percent in the first half including 7 of 12 from three-point range. That led to a 44-33 lead at the break. The Ducks closed the half with two three-point baskets from sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey. One bounced off the rim, went straight up then back down and in. The other came from straight away deep and went off the backboard at the buzzer. 

Dorsey had 14 in the first half, senior guard Dylan Ennis had 10 and junior forward Dillon Brooks scored 9. Maybe the best performance of the half came from junior forward Jordan Bell, who had four points, eight rebounds and blocked four shots that set the tone on defense. 

Kansas shot 42.9 percent in the first half and were hurt considerably by the foul trouble that Josh Jackson found himself in early on. It disrupted his flow and he finished with zero points after shooting just one shot. Frank Mason III carried the Jayhawks in the first half with 17. 

The great play on offense by UO fell off a bit in the second half but the Ducks' defense did not. Bell put fear into the hearts of every Kansas player that entred the paint with eight blocked shots that ultimately led to countless other altered shots for the Jayhawks. 

On offense, whenever Kansas even remotely looked like it could get back into the game, someone on Oregon made a big play to push the Jayhawks back. 

What it means: Oregon advances to the Final Four for the first time since 1939 when the Ducks last won a national title. 

Key sequence: Kansas got the deficit down to 61-51 in the second half and turned up the heat on defense. After moving the ball around a bit, it ended up in the hands of Dorsey, who starred down his defender and nailed a three-pointer to make the score 64-51, UO. As Dorsey ran back on defense he put one finger to his lips to tell the pro-Kansas crowd to "shush." 

Kansas cut its deficit down to 64-55 but then Ennis scored on a layup to give UO a 66-55 lead. 

Kansas later got a three from forward Svi Mykhailiuk to make it 66-60, UO with 2:49 remaining. Then KU seemingly had a defensive stop working when the shot clock ran down on UO forcing Dorsey to throw up a desperation shot. Kansas, however, failed to get the rebound and the ball landed in Bell's hands. Seconds later, Dorsey cranked up a three to go up 69-60 with 1:41 remaining. 

That was pretty much that. 

High-flying Ducks: Dorsey ended with 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting and had five rebounds. Bell gave the Ducks 11 points and 13 rebounds to go along with his eight blocked shots. 

Brooks scored 17 while making 7 of 18 shots. 

Up next:  Oregon will take on the winner of Sunday's South Region finals game between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Kentucky in next Saturday's Final Four. 

Kansas' Landen Lucas faces father Richard Lucas' former team in Elite Eight

Kansas' Landen Lucas faces father Richard Lucas' former team in Elite Eight

KANSAS CITY - It finally happened during Landen Lucas' freshman year in high school. 

He took his dad in a game of one-on-one, 21-14. Took him to school by using all of the tricks of the trade his father Richard Lucas, a former star at Oregon from 1987 through 1991, has passed on to him. 

"It was a dark day," the 6-foot-6 Richard Lucas said outside of the Westin Hotel where he was staying in Kansas City. 

Landen remembers it differently. It's more of a fond memory for him, especially given that his dad never took it easy on him even as a young child.

"I wanted him to earn it," Richard said. 

Landen earned it and then some. 

"A couple of years after that, we played again - I was out of shape, that's my excuse - but I couldn't even get a shot off," Richard Lucas, 47, said. "He was so much more athletic and long and stronger."

The 6-10 Landen, who averages 7.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while shooting 64 percent, has dominated the former Duck center ever since. On Saturday in the Elite Eight, he will try to do the same against the current Ducks in a game that will tug at the heart strings for both. 

Both Landen and his father, of course, absolutely want No. 1 Kansas (31-4) to be victorious. But that doesn't mean there won't be some strong emotions pulling them the other way, as well.

"It's a very weird thing for me," Landen said Friday at the Sprint Center. "Especially because just growing up, I always watched Oregon. Loved Oregon because of my parents and what dad was able to do there...It's a connection that was cool and all, but the second I came to Kansas it was all about Kansas, and now them being the opponent, I'm just excited about it and excited to go out and play."

--- Growing up a duckling

Landen's childhood was painted green and yellow from an early age. His father's love for Oregon permeated throughout the house, shaping his son's admiration for the Ducks. 

"Growing up I just wanted to be like him," Landen Lucas said. "I would always watch the tapes that he had...He has his highlight tape he will show me every now and then when he wants to brag a little bit. But it is fun to watch him and see what he did in college."

Richard Lucas, who appears as a panelist on CSN's Talkin' Ducks, did the dirty work for the Ducks. Rebounding. Blocking shots. Hustle plays.

"I realized very quickly that if I rebounded the basketball the coaches had a tough time not playing me," Lucas said. "Then the points came."

He passed on that work ethic to Landen. When Landen played youth games as young as age 7, his father would be there barking at him to box out and rebound.

Landen listened.

"He was able to do that for his team, and told me that if I'm able to do that at the highest level I can help any team out," Landen said. "And having a great team like we have we do with great players, I just need to do my job, the small things and that's enough for us to win."

--- Setting his own path

Lucas had an interesting high school career, starting out at Sunset for two seasons before transferring to famed Findley Prep in Henderson, Nev., (essentially a basketball factory) only to return to the Beaverton area to play at Westview, a rival of Sunset's. 

That move brought out the haters from Sunset, but that didn't impact Lucas, who had his sights set on going big time. 

Landen Lucas might have followed in his father's footsteps had the Ducks in 2012 been as good as they are now. But back then, Landen viewed Oregon under coach Dana Altman as a fledgling program that relied too heavily on transfers.  

"I wasn't sure what direction it was heading," Landen said before pointing out that UO appears to be a lot different now, a testament, he stated, to Altman's vision.

Richard Lucas hoped his son would end up at Oregon but ultimately determined that the Ducks' style of play didn't involve tossing the ball into the big man often enough to make it the right fit for Landen.

"We realized pretty quickly that the style of play at the time they were doing was a little bit different than what we were looking for," Richard Lucas said. 

Landen's career at Kansas got off to a rocky start. He redshirted as a freshman and barely played the following season.

Richard Lucas recalled when Kansas coach Bill Self told him he wanted to trade Landen as an 18-year-old for Landen as a 23-year-old fifth-year senior who was going to play a lot.

"It was hard to talk to Landen about that because kids want to play," Richard Lucas said.

Landen resisted at first but soon recognized the value in redshirting especially when he likely wouldn't have played anyway, and he could focus on developing his game and getting off to a good start academically.

Altman remembers recruiting Lucas and hoping he would indeed want to go where his father had starred. Even though that didn't work out, Altman said he's happy for Lucas and how he has developed his game since redshirting. 

"It also shows his perseverance, you know, it didn't start out well for him, the redshirt and he didn't get to play much the first couple of years," Altman said. "But he stayed with it and, you know, it speaks to his character."

Altman pointed out that a lot of young players look to transfer when they don't become instant starts, let alone are asked to redshirt.  

"We're really happy for him, great guy, great family," Altman said. "His dad is a great guy. Really happy for him. I hope he doesn't play well tomorrow, but he's had a heck of a career."

Self said he recruited Landen with the idea of him being a good “program guy.” Instead, he got much more.

“All he did was come in and start for three years, basically, and has become probably as an important part of our program as anybody we've had,” Self said. “You hate to look at a team over the last three years and say, why would you be without him and the answer would be not very good.”

Before each game Richard will give Landed a pep talk and notes on what to watch for based on having watched the opponent. After games they would debrief to go over what happens.

"He is so smart that that's less and less," Richard Lucas said. "He knows what he did wrong and what he can do better."

Landen said he takes his father’s advice to heart.

"I try to take his advice and listen to him, good or bad because I know that he knows what he is talking about," Landen said.

Clearly Richard Lucas’ schooling of his son paid off.

“He's been a real pleasure to coach, and he's very, very bright.” Self said. “He gets it. He gets the big picture. Certainly he has grown so much since he's been here.”

--- The chase for 18 rebounds and beyond.

Richard’s career-high 18 rebounds against Stanford in 1991 remains a point of contention between father and son. He elder Lucas has held that number over Landen his entire college career, challenging him to tie or beat it.

Landen did just that. Sort of. 

Landen Lucas, who had 12 rebounds once as a redshirt sophomore, 16 in a game as a redshirt junior and 17 earlier this season, finally grabbed 18 on Feb. 24 during a 92-89 win over Iowa State.

However, that win came in overtime. The key word being "overtime."

"Doesn't count, sorry!" Richard Lucas said. "Sorry. I mean, come on."

The elder Lucas points out that Landen got three of his 18 rebounds in overtime. So, according to dad, he still holds the family record. 

When asked about it, Landen just shook his head. 

"He's not counting that," he said with a laugh. "I've got to get to at least 18 or more so I can shut him up so he won't talk about it anymore."

When told of that declaration, Richard just laughed.

"You know what, he's been trying for years," he said. "He's. Been. Trying. For. Years. To do that. So, we'll see."

--- Beating Oregon.

The goal is to win on Saturday. Elation would follow. A twinge of pain for both Lucas men would still exist.

“Landen and I talked briefly last night about the situation,” Self said. “He's a big fan of the Ducks not only because he grew up in Portland but because his father played there and was a good player there. So there's pride there about that with his family.”

But that pride factor has shifted. Dad will be wearing Kansas gear. But he admits that he won’t be able to view Oregon as a faceless opponent. Meanwhile, Landen has no choice.

“He told me last night, he said, ‘Coach, I've seen 'em play at least 15 times this year,’” Self said.  “Which he wouldn't be watching any other teams from the Pac-12 play that amount of time unless there was a vested interest with his father. We'll talk about it. We'll talk about it, but he has a lot of respect for back home.”

He has more respect for his goals. The team’s goals. What is at stake. Oregon will have other chances to reach the Final Four. This is Landen’s final shot. And the Ducks, albeit a program he and his father love, stands in the way.

"This is what I stuck it out for,” he said, “and really what motived me earlier in my career."