Benson, who is from Tempe, Ariz., where he played at Corona Del Sol, is very happy that he’ll be returning to the Phoenix area and playing at the University of Phoenix University Stadium in Glendale, first facing the University of North Carolina in a game that will tipoff at 5:30 p.m. (Pacific).
After beating Kansas in the Elite-8 last weekend, Benson said he had over 100 voice mail and many more text and Instagram messages. Considering it is home town, he’s hoping he can find enough tickets for many friends and family who live in the Phoenix area. Still though while it is a dream-come-true to be in the Final Four, Benson and his teammates say just getting there isn’t enough; they want it all – the want the National Championship.
The last time Oregon won a National Championship in basketball was way back in 1939, the first time the NCAA held a championship game in basketball. This time though, the NCAA Tournament is a far cry from what it was like for The Tall Firs of the 1939 team. In modern basketball, March Madness is the major event for the NCAA, and the TV audience that will watch the next three games will be huge.
It’s ironic that the Final Four is being played at Phoenix Stadium, because the Ducks (the football Ducks) have been there before playing for a National Championship. That was in 2010 when the Ducks lost to Auburn on a last second field goal, 22-19. In 2012, Oregon returned to the venue to knock off Kansas State, in a one-sided Fiesta Bowl, 35-17.
But this basketball, and for sure just getting to the Final Four is a big deal, yet when listening to Benson, while he acknowledges the excitement, there’s no mistaking what he wants out of all this – the crown.
One of the key components of the Ducks successful run to the Final Four has been the play of Tyler Dorsey, the 6-5 guard from Pasadena, Calif. Benson was asked from a rather surprised reporter about how Dorsey has suddenly emerged.
Benson calmly and cheerfully responded.
“We see that all the time,” commented Benson of Dorsey’s play. “He just gets hot and in a rhythm and he’s playing at a really, really high level right now.”
Dorsey has been sensational in the post-season and is averaging 14.5 ppg, and has canned a total of 85 three-point shots. Ducks post season Dorsey has jumped his average up to 23.57 ppg in seven games.
Benson, while not known for a big scorer has been a steady influence on the team and has long been known a guy who doesn’t turn the ball over. He's also a good 3-point shooter when called upon but right now, he’s not thinking in terms of what his personal numbers are, he’s willing to do whatever helps his team win and that means doing his job and playing hard.
“Everybody is going to have to rebound and boxout,” Benson said giving a clue as to the Ducks thought process now heading into the game with North Carolina. “In the Final Four there is going to be a lot of intensity and excitement.”
Benson and the Ducks will get their first chance to show they not only belong in the Final Four, but to take that next important step so that they can realize the ultimate goal – the National Championship.
Saturday’s game with North Carolina will be carried on CBS with a tipoff scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Pacific.