Oregon basketball

2017-2018 PAC-12 men's basketball schedule released

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2017-2018 PAC-12 men's basketball schedule released

Is it college basketball season yet? Well, not exactly, but the Pac-12 released today the 2017-2018 schedule to get you thinking for the next 181 days until the conference opener. Of course, there are still all the non-conference games before the PAC-12 season opener, which that schedule will be released later this summer, but let's take a closer glance at what the Oregon Ducks have in store this season:

Home games in BOLD.

Week 1: Dec. 27-31: [Home] Colorado vs. Oregon ; [Home] Utah vs. Oregon

Week 2: Jan. 3-7: [Away] Oregon at Oregon State

Week 3: Jan. 10-14: [Away] Oregon at Arizona ; [Away] Oregon at Arizona State

Week 4: Jan. 17-21: [Home] UCLA vs. Oregon ; [Home] USC vs. Oregon

Week 5: Jan. 24-28: [Home] Oregon State vs. Oregon

Week 6: Jan. 31 - Feb. 4: [Away] Oregon at California ; [Away] Oregon at Stanford

Week 7: Feb. 7-11: [Home] Washington vs. Oregon ; [Home] Washington State vs. Oregon

Week 8: Feb. 14-18: [Away] Oregon at UCLA ; [Away] Oregon at USC

Week 9: Feb. 21-25: [Home] Arizona vs. Oregon ; [Home] Arizona State vs. Oregon

Week 10: Feb. 28 - March 3: (Regular season concludes Saturday, March 3) [Away] Oregon at Washington ; [Away] Oregon at Washington State

Some quick snapshots of this upcoming season's schedule:

-The Ducks will only have to face Colorado/Utah once and at home. This is a huge advantage for Oregon because the Ducks have never won at Coors Event Center, home of the Colorado Buffaloes. Since joining the PAC-12 conference in 2011, both Colorado and Utah have been real tests on the road for Oregon.

-Oregon will face both Arizona and UCLA twice this upcoming season. One home series, one away series. The last few seasons, the PAC-12 has seen dominant play from all three of these schools, each seeing a national top 10 ranking for multiple weeks in last season alone.

-Sort of a good news, bad news for the Ducks: Oregon will only face the Bay Area schools of California and Stanford once, however, both of these games will be on the road. Oregon has struggled in the Bay Area as both California and Stanford prove to hold their ground at home against the Ducks. Before last season (Mr. Clutch) Dillon Brooks' last second shot to beat California, the Ducks were swept 11 out of the previous 15 visits to the Bay Area.

The Ducks only return one key starter in their lineup: sophomore guard Payton Pritchard. But head coach Dana Altman has been on the move and on the phone bringing in top recruits such as Kenny Wooten, Elijah Brown, and Troy Brown Jr.. The anticipated wait will also be over for Georgetown transfer forward Paul White. The Ducks will look different next year due to the departure of four of the five starters (Dylan Ennis, Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Chris Boucher, and Jordan Bell), and with the transfer of Kavell Bigby-Williams call for a new look.

Oregon's Jordan Bell looking for right fit as much as high pick in NBA Draft

Oregon's Jordan Bell looking for right fit as much as high pick in NBA Draft

CHICAGO – It was during an interview with an NBA team this week when Jordan Bell said he became emotional, his past at the University of Oregon haunting him again.

Over two days in Chicago, he was interviewed by nine teams: Detroit, Brooklyn, Washington, Miami, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and the LA Clippers.

One of the teams – Bell wouldn’t reveal which one – showed him video of the deciding plays in the Ducks’ Final Four loss to North Carolina – two offensive rebounds off missed free throws by the Tar Heels in the final seconds, which Bell in a tear-stained postgame interview blamed on himself.

“One of the meetings they had a video of the last two box outs and I got a little emotional just thinking about it again,’’ Bell said. “I don’t think it’s something I will ever get over. It is something that will always be in the back of my mind.’’

If it seems like a cruel exercise to throw at a 22-year-old kid, Bell didn’t take it that way. After the video stopped, Bell said the team asked how he learned from it, how he got over it and what he took from the experience.

Emotional, Bell said he answered like he plays: to the point and with feeling.

“Teams have been trying to get to know me as a person, and see who I am outside of basketball,’’ he said.

What he hopes they discover is a person who has found himself, which he says carries over to the basketball court.

While he says he patterns his game after Golden State’s Draymond Green and Denver’s Kenneth Faried, Bell says he is a defense-first player who will know how to embrace his role at the NBA level.

“I’m not someone who has to go from being a scorer in college to trying to adapt to a new role,’’ Bell said. “The person I’ve been playing in college is exactly the person they will ask me to be in the NBA.’’

That role, Bell figures, should be in demand in this draft.

“I think the need in the NBA right now is definitely defense,’’ Bell said. “Everybody has pretty much been a scoring. I’ve been watching basketball, and getting to 100 was a big thing, now it’s 120, 110. I figure there is definitely a need for defenders.’’

He says he has been studying noted defenders like Green and Oklahoma City’s Andre Roberson, and their skills call to his love of the game.

“I just get a thrill,’’ Bell says of playing and watching defense. “I understand blocking shots is, to me, more important than getting a layup. Getting a layup is two points, but blocking shots is minus two points, and you are putting a fear into their hearts. Like, if you are in there, and they miss a layin, you might not block it, but I know I effected it in some kind of way.’’

After the NBA Combine ends this week, Bell says he has workouts scheduled with Indiana, San Antonio, Houston, the Lakers, Utah, Boston, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Golden State, Detroit and Atlanta.

Most mock drafts have Bell projected to be a late first round, early second round pick.

“With me, my main focus is to make sure I go to the right team,’’ Bell said. “I don’t want to go 15th and go to a team that will probably have me go to the D-League or something like that. I’d rather go mid-second round to a team that has a need for what I do.’’

Four Ducks set to workout at NBA combine, follow CSN for coverage

Four Ducks set to workout at NBA combine, follow CSN for coverage

Oregon made a historic run to the Final Four last season and now four key catalysts from that team will participate in the 2017 NBA Draft Combine Thursday and Friday in Chicago, Ill.

Forwards Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell and Chris Boucher, along with guard Tyler Dorsey, were invited to the annual event where NBA executives and scouts will size up the talents of players hoping to get selected in June's NBA Draft.

The 67 invited players will participate in five-on-five games and go through strength and agility drills at Chicago’s Quest Multisport.

For information on the former Ducks' progress, check back to CSNNW.com for coverage from Trail Blazers insider Jason Quick and follow him on Twitter @JWQuick.

The Trail Blazers have three picks in the first round of the draft? Could one be an Oregon Duck?

NBADraft.net projects Bell to be a late first-round pick, and for Boucher and Brooks to go late in the second round. Dorsey is not projected by the website to get selected.

 

Guard Elijah Brown announces he will transfer from New Mexico to Oregon

Guard Elijah Brown announces he will transfer from New Mexico to Oregon

The Oregon basketball team, which lost seven of its top players from last season, received a boost today when senior graduate transfer Elijah Brown announced today that he will attend Oregon.

The former New Mexico guard last season averaged 18.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from the field and 33 percent from three-point range.

The The 6-foot-4 Brown, who will be a redshirt senior, was named third-team All-Mountain West last season. His best season came as a redshirt sophomore when he received second-team honors after averaging 21.7 points and 3.1 assists per game.

Brown will add much-needed scoring punch to a roster that just lost Tyler Dorsey, Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell as early entries to the NBA, and Chris Boucher and Dylan Ennis as seniors. 

Brown figures to start in the backcourt with sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard. Five-star recruit Troy Brown could play small forward, giving the Ducks a very potent trio of perimeter scorers next season. '

Altman and Oregon face major rebuild after mass exodus of talent

Altman and Oregon face major rebuild after mass exodus of talent

The Oregon basketball team won't sink to the bottom of the Pac-12 standings next season. Not even after losing seven of their best nine players from this year's Final Four team. UO coach Dana Altman is too good of a strategist and leader for that to happen, and he will have some promising, but young talent to work with. 

But the Ducks are virtually assured of taking a major step backward from what was a two-year run of excellence the program hadn't experienced in the modern era. Any chance of replicating the Final Four run from last season or the march to the Elite Eight the season before went out of the door with the departures of junior forwards, Jordan Bell and Dillon Brooks, and sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, all of whom decided to venture into NBA waters.

Few programs in the nation could recover from losing that much talent and still remain a national title contender. Then factor in the losses of senior forward Chris Boucher and senior guard Dylan Ennis, plus junior guard Casey Benson, who elected to transfer, and the likely loss of junior big man Kavell Bigby-Williams, who has requested and received the freedom to seek a new program for his services. 

Add all of that up and you have a program in major flux. 

“It’s been a crazy two weeks,” Altman said today during a press conference at Matthew Knight Arena. “But those guys, I really feel good for all of them...I sure hope it works out for all of them."

But will all of this work out for Oregon? Probably. In due time.  Providing Altman can, or has, acquired pieces that will be around long enough for him to mold into another wrecking machine. 

Recruiting hasn't and shouldn't be a problem. 

“You go to a Final Four and everybody at least picks up the phone,” Altman said.

Altman said the departure of Brooks and Dorsey was expected. Both tested entered the NBA Draft process following the 2015-16 season before each elected to return to UO. That they at least had one door out of the door last season, Altman said, made it clear that the duo would likely depart this spring. 

“It was pretty obvious that if they had a nice year they were going to leave,” Altman said.

Bell's future remained unclear to Altman until the shot-blocking menace put forth several dominant performances during the postseason, thus raising his stock on some online mock drafts from middle of the second round to the latter part of the first.

“You play that well for so many games, late, I can’t blame him [for leaving],” Altman said.

Bigby-Williams didn't play much in his first season at UO, while Benson, Altman said, didn't easily accept losing his starting job to freshman point guard Payton Pritchard. 

Speaking of Pritchard, he will now take over as the leader of a team that will experience a heavy youth movement.

“We’re going to be younger next year than we’ve been in awhile, which is kind of exciting from a coaching standpoint,” Altman said.

So what will the team look like next season? Not too bad, providing some unproven talent blossoms as both players and leaders, something last season's team did not lack.

"Somebody will establish himself [as a leader]," Altman said. "It might take awhile. I think the leadership qualities come out of necessity, sometimes.”

Altman pointed to the winning past of his recruits. He said he tries to sign players that won in high school. Few high school basketball players have ever won as much as Pritchard, who led West Linn High School to four 6A state titles. 

Pritchard will be the lone regular returning player next season and will have a chance to put his stamp on the program. He also could receive some help from a graduate transfer, or two. Altman has been the master of finding veteran players from across the country and getting great success out of them for one or two years.

Mike Moser, Jason Calliste, Joseph Young and Dylan Ennis were all fabulous for the Ducks. 

“We have done very well with grad transfers,” Altman said.

Oregon is reportedly in the running for New Mexico guard Elijah Brown, who averaged 18.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season. He would certainly give the Ducks a proven collegiate scorer to work with, something the roster lacks at the moment. 

Here is a look at what all the Ducks could look like next season:

Guards: Pritchard, a fierce scorer while dominating Oregon high school basketball at West Linn, will now have much more freedom on offense. Starting in the backcourt with him could be 6-foot-6 freshman Troy Brown, a five-star recruit out of Las Vegas, Nev., who is rated as the No. 12 player in the nation and projected by some to be an NBA first-round pick next spring. Four-star recruit Victor Bailey (Round Rock, Texas) could also be in the mix as a freshman.  That's a lot of youth in the backcourt. 

The addition of Elijah Brown would balance out this group with a veteran presence who can fill it up. 

Forwards: Sophomore Keith Smith, a four-star recruit last year, played a bit here and there during last season and will be the front-runner to start next season. The Ducks will also need production from 6-10 M.J. Cage, another four-star recruit from last year, and transfer Paul White from Georgetown.

White is a major wild card. Rivals.com ranked White as the 50th best player in the nation in 2014. The 6-foot-9 White played a lot as a freshman with the Hoyas, averaging 5.0 points per game, but missed most of the following season after undergoing abdominal surgery. He sat out last season and will be a junior next fall.

Cage redshirted due to injury but is expected to provide size in side next season. 

“Both will give us some minutes next year,” Altman said of Cage and White.

Small forward recruit, Abu Kigab (Napa, Calif.) could also see time in a thin frontcourt. 

Senior Roman Sorkin will be the most experienced big man back and at the very least will provide veteran depth. 

On Monday, the Ducks received a commitment from three-star forward Kenny Wooten, adding to their 2017 recruiting haul. 

The Ducks are reportedly still in the mix to land 6-10, five-star center Brandon McCoy, rated as the No. 11 player in the nation.  

Should the Ducks land McCoy, the frontcourt would take on a whole new look, but still would be too young to be considered one that would push the Ducks deep into the NCAA Tournament. 

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All told, Oregon next season will have at least six players who were four-star recruits and one five-star recruit in Brown. That's not a bad collection of talent for Altman to mold. But it will be a group of freshmen and sophomores, other than White. 

It's the type of group that Altman could have ready for greatness by 2020, providing nearly everyone sticks around for more than a year. 

That said, Altman isn't done recruiting. He could land another freshman, such as McCoy, and get Brown to transfer in along with another strong veteran. 

“We’ve got a lot more playing time to sell,” Altman said.

Sad, true. Altman also can sell the program's recent successes and reason to believe the future could be just as bright. 

Oregon Center Kavell Bigby-Williams granted permission to transfer

Oregon Center Kavell Bigby-Williams granted permission to transfer

Center Kavell Bigby-Williams has requested and been greanted his release from the team to transfer, according to an Oregon spokesman, and joins a long list of recent former Ducks to leave the program. 

Bigby-Williams came to Oregon last year as the top-rated junior college player in the nation but never lived up to that billing. The 6-foot-11 Bigby-Williams appeared in 37 games, played 9.8 minutes per game during a season that saw him average 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. 

Oregon has now seen the departure of seven of the Ducks top eight players from last season. 

Guard Dylan Ennis and forward Chris Boucher left as seniors. Junior forwards Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell, and sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey decided to enter the NBA Draft. Junior Casey Benson has elected to tranfer.

That leaves freshman Payton Pritchard as the only returning starter and regular member of the team's regular eight-man rotation.

Freshman Keith Smith played sparingly last season but saw time in the NCAA Tournament and even scored a basket in the team's Final Four loss to North Carolina. 

 

 

Oregon guard Casey Benson announces decision to transfer

Oregon guard Casey Benson announces decision to transfer

The deconstruction of Oregon's first Final Four team in 78 years continued this evening with the announcement from junior guard Casey Benson that he would seek to transfer. 

"I believe it's in my best interest to graduate this spring and become a graduate transfer," Benson stated on Twitter. 

Jordan Bell? We await your decision...

Gone already are sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey and junior forward Dillon Brooks. Both followed seniors Chris Boucher and Dylan Ennis out the door. 

Benson's decision means that five of the team's top seven players are now gone. Bell would make six should he decide to leave. He is projected by many online mock drafts to be a first-round pick in this summer's NBA Draft.

Benson's choice comes a bit out of left field but shouldn't be considered all that shocking. Benson started the 2015-2016 for an Oregon team that won the Pac-12 regular season and tournament championships before reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. His reward - to lose his starting job to freshman Payton Pritchard this season when the Ducks reached the Final Four.

Benson didn't figure to return to the starting lineup next season even with the departure of Dorsey and Brooks. So, with most of his pals now gone, it only stands to reason that Benson would recognize the disintegration of what the Ducks built and seek to find a place where he could start his senior year. 

As a graduate transfer, Benson would be eligible to play right away. 

Benson wasn't flashy or a great scorer for the Ducks, but UO fans should never - ever- forget the season he had in 2015-16 when he committed just 24 turnovers while handing out 117 assists and averaging 6.0 points per game over 38 starts. The 24 turnovers is astounding but it wasn't enough to assure him of being the starter the following season. Pritchard committed 56 turnovers in 38 games this season while averaging 7.4 points per game with 141 assists. 

Pritchard said at the Final Four that he and Benson had a frosty relationship to start the season when both were competing for the starting point guard spot. Both said that their relationship got better over time, but clearly there was some friction between the two early on in the season. 

Oregon junior Dillon Brooks declares for the NBA draft

Oregon junior Dillon Brooks declares for the NBA draft

Dillon Brooks announced Wednesday that he has hired an agent and plans to enter the NBA Draft.

The junior forward announced the decision on his Instagram with a link to his website:

"I've done so much here and everything has been great. I wouldn't be here right now without coaching staff, believing in me," Brooks said in the video. "I was not highly recruited and they believed in me from the jump. I just feel like now I'm going to take my talents to the next level and enter in the draft.

Brooks was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year after averaging 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists this season.

Not to be overlooked on a stat sheet is his big play ability. The All-American hit game-winning shots against Tennessee, UCLA and Cal this past season.

Brooks led Oregon to the NCAA Tournament in each of his three years, including a history-making Final Four run. He is Oregon's all-time scoring and assists leader in tournament history.

Brooks is projected by most mock drafts to be a second-round pick. This announcement comes two days after Oregon guard Tyler Dorsey also declared for the NBA Draft.

Junior Jordan Bell has not yet announced his future plans.

Oregon guard Tyler Dorsey announces he is entering NBA Draft

Oregon guard Tyler Dorsey announces he is entering NBA Draft

Oregon sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, who played the best basketball of his career during the Ducks' run to the Final Four, announced via Twitter that he has hired an agent and plans to enter the NBA Draft. 

"After this great college experience, I believe this is the time to pursue my dream of a NBA career and I am now announcing my intention to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft with an agent," Dorsey wrote. "I have carefully deliberated this decision with my family and feel the timing is now right to pursue my path to a professional basketball career."

Dorsey tested the NBA waters last year only to ultimately return to UO after it became clear that his draft stock wasn't very high. Not very many current online mock drafts project Dorsey to even be a second-round pick this year, but he won't be able to return to the Ducks if things don't go well during the draft process now that he has hired an agent.

Dorsey had a very inconsistent season in which he made three or fewer field goals in 14 games. Once the postseason came around, however, he went bonkers.

Dorsey averaged 23.6 points per game during the Pac-12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament while shooting 55.7 percent from three-point range. His play could be considered the greatest postseason showing by an Oregon player in program history and was directly responsible for the Ducks reaching the Final Four for the first time since 1939. 

The question for Dorsey at the NBA level is if his outside shot is good enough to compensate for his 6-foot-4 height at the shooting guard position and lack of elite athleticism. 

Now the Ducks will await word on the future status of junior forwards, Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell. Brooks is projected by most mock drafts to be a second-round pick while Bell, who also had a strong postseason, is listed as a potential late first-round pick by many. 

 

 

 

Gonzaga and Mark Few fail to close in historic season, lose 71-65 to North Carolina

Gonzaga and Mark Few fail to close in historic season, lose 71-65 to North Carolina

GLENDALE, Ariz - Gonzaga coach Mark Few came so close to bringing a national championship to the Pacific Northwest, an area the Creswell, Ore., native has called home his entire life. 

But in the final minutes of Monday night's national championship game, his Bulldogs couldn't quite find the mettle to overcome a North Carolina team that forcibly, but narrowly, tiptoed through the best the Northwest had to offer during the Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium. 

The No. 1 Tar Heels, who rank among the bluest of blue bloods this sport has to offer, won their sixth national title, 71-65, just two nights after escaping, 77-76 over Oregon, Few's alma mater and the last Northwest program to win a national (1939). 

The heartbreak following the loss was real for Few and his team. This was Gonzaga's chance to do something many thought was close to impossible - win a national title as a mid-major out of the WCC

“I’m hoping it will settle in and we will feel better tomorrow and in the days to come," Few said. "It doesn’t feel that great right now for a couple reasons. You’re right there on the brink of a national championship. You want to give that to your team and your program. But at the same time, the other thing that just crushes you is that you don’t get to coach these guys ever again. That was going to happen whether we won or lost, so that’s the one that kind of really hurts. But I couldn’t be prouder."

Gonzaga had ample opportunity to pull this game out. The Bulldogs led 65-63 in a game that was about as appealing to watch as bricks being laid. In this game, the bricks were being launched toward the rims at an alarming rate. 

North Carolina (33-7) made just 26 of 73 shots (35.6 percent) and shot 4 of 27 from three-point range. Gonzaga (37-2) shot 33.9 percent on 20-of-59 shooting and committed 14 turnovers, compared to a stellar four for North Carolina.

"First of all, they were excellent tonight, defensively," Few said. "They disrupted us. They climbed up into us, kind of drove our offense outside the normal area, as far as our wing touches and our entries. And we didn't do a good job of probably executing that."

Yet, there the Bulldogs were, leading with 1:53 remaining in the game. From that point on, however, Gonzaga appeared to be stuck in mud, especially guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who had given Gonzaga the lead with a jumper. 

First, NC forward Justin Jackson tied the game on a jump shot before seconds later being fouled by Williams-Goss. Jackson made a free throw that gave NC a 66-65 lead it would never relinquish. Williams-Goss went on to miss a jumper that led to Tar Heels center Kennedy Meeks scoring on a short shot to give North Carolina a 68-65 lead with 26 seconds remaining. 

Williams-Goss came back again to try to tie the game but Meeks blocked his shot and that led to a breakaway dunk by Jackson to make it 70-65 with 12 seconds remaining. 

Gonzaga's final possession resulted in a turnover and that was that.  

In Williams-Goss' defense, he did sprain his ankle late in the game.

"Sprained it pretty good," he said. "It was the same ankle that I hurt last game so it was still a little bit weak. Stepped on it wrong and rolled it. But my adrenaline was rushing. Like I said last game, nothing was going to stop me from finishing out this game. So that's what happened."

A lot of interesting things happened for both teams, mostly mediocre. This was not a well played game. The officiating seemed to be a bit whistle-happy, calling 44 personal fouls with 27 foul calls in the first half. However, Few offered no excuses in that area. 

"I had no issue whatsoever," he said. "I thought they did a fabulous job. And I'm on the losing end. And it's just not an easy game to ref. And we're throwing the ball inside. They're throwing the ball inside. Our guards go downhill. Their guards go downhill. So, I thought they were great."

Gonzaga shouldn't blame anyone but itself for the loss. The Bulldogs, like the Ducks two nights prior, blew several opportunities late with their respective games against North Carolina on the line. 

What maybe mattered most in both cases was that the experience of the Tar Heels, who lost last year's national championship game, 77-74, to Villanova on a buzzer-beater. 

North Carolina, who called this season the "Redemption Tour," has now been to 20 Final Fours. Oregon - one in 78 years. Gonzaga - its first ever. 

The Bulldogs could have other looks at claiming a national championship. Maybe next time they will cash in. Maybe not. Either way, this season made it clear that a team from a second-tier conference could compete with the best of the best. 

"How many teams would take 37-2, league champs, national runner-up?" Gonzaga guard Jordan Matthews said. "We broke that glass ceiling everybody said we couldn't get over. Everybody was saying how the Zags couldn't get to the Final Four. So we did that."

And then some.