This may be the hardest preview to write because I don't know what the heck is going on with Oregon. Oregon was #10 in the country and 13-0. It then lost its next 5 games. I really thought Oregon was a lock for the tournament. Quite frankly, although we have more talent, I thought they might finish higher in the PAC 12 standings.
Unlike Colorado whose coming apart is easy to explain with the loss of Spencer Dinwiddie, Oregon actually had key players return before the losing streak started. I also thought Dana Altman was an elite PAC 12 coach who quite frankly out-coached Ben Howland and out maneuvered him recruiting the last few years.
So what happen? The obvious is that Oregon does not play defense. Throw out their last game; a win over a truly awful offensively Washington State team and Oregon gave up a minimum of 80 points and a maximum of a 100 during the losing streak. Defense that bad can offset the fact Oregon is the fifth highest scoring team in the nation.
Also Oregon's offense has had issues in the losing streak. Before the PAC 12 Oregon was a top in the nation shooting team. In the PAC 12 losses they have shot over 43% only once, against Stanford.
I guess if you are Duck fan you have to hope that the Washington State game was a course correction. However, Additiced to Quack said this after the win over WSU:
Basketball team ending their 5 game skid last night against WSU. There's nothing like beating up on the underprivileged less physically gifted kid to give your confidence a boost... right? Oregon fixed nothing yesterday. Defensively they still look uninterested; they just played a team that doesn't shoot very well.
Even in the victory over an awful WSU team, Oregon shot less than their plummeting season field goal percentage average.
How bad has Oregon been during this streak? So bad Coach Altman does not review the game film of losses. Here is a typical quote that sums up some of Oregon's problems in a loss to Civil War rival Oregon State.
"Those backdoor cuts were really embarrassing," Altman said. "That's not how we're supposed to be guarding it. We worked on it all week. That's just guys losing their focus and pressuring it a little bit and it was really bad basketball, there's no other way I can put it, and that's my fault."
Or this from Addicted to Quack:
It may not be clear to Jake, but it's clear to a whole bunch of Duck fans, this team has forgotten how to play defense, completely given up on the hustle plays, and just expects to shoot their way to victory.
Maybe the issue is with the makeup of the team. This is a team without a glue guy. It is a talented transfer-filled AAU-type team that thinks defense is for someone else to play. Regardless it is really ugly and this is not a time to break down the match ups but rather for UCLA to prove how good its offense really is and run the Ducks out of their own ugly court.
Following the Ducks' fourth consecutive loss to Oregon State this past weekend, Altman was at a loss for words. Not because the tenured coach wasn't aware of what he and his team were getting into, but because he knew how hard the road back to the top was. Altman did admit that he had gone through similar stretches in previous years following just his second loss to the in-state rival Beavers since 2010, but there was an unspoken feeling in the room that this year was just a little different.
Since beginning the season with a perfect 13-0 non-conference record and top 10 ranking, the Ducks have not only dropped out of the Associated Press top 25, but they have fallen to the bottom of the Pac-12 conference. Things are spiraling out of control at a rapid pace for a team that had up until this point proven that six transfers can indeed work together to create a national powerhouse. For now there are many questions that continue to be left unanswered.
If a good coach like Altman can't figure out what is going on, I sure in the heck can't. I will close by saying this is probably the most important game of the year to start fast. If UCLA can get a big lead on Oregon early, the Ducks may fold.