Ducks Still Looking For First Pac-10 Win

With the NCAA regular season over halfway completed, it is time to analyze the progress of each team and see what improvements could be made, and what things must be done to grasp the pinnacle that is the postseason, be it the NIT or the Big Dance.

(Courtesy of bleacher report)

That said, let's put the Oregon Ducks — a very talented, very capable, yet struggling team, under the microscope. What will it take for the Ducks to finally earn their first Pac-10 victory in 2009?

The Oregon Ducks do not consistently earn berths to the Big Dance. During the Ernie Kent coaching era at Oregon, the Ducks have only two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

When the recruiting class for the 2008-2009 season was announced, many sports analysts and Duck faithful were instantly filled with high hopes for the coming season. Oregon had milked the Chicago area for all it was worth, nabbing five-star big man Michael Dunigan and four-star big man Josh Crittle, along with four-star shooting guard Matthew Humphrey.

The Ducks also flocked as far as Georgia to sign four-star shooting guard Teondre Williams. And of course, UO protected it's state border and signed two of the state's four-star recruits in point guard Garrett Sim and small forward Drew Wiley.

Despite the mix of veteran leadership and the aforementioned recruiting class, the Ducks have struggled mightily this season. They are winless in the Pac-10 and 6-17 overall.

Many fans were expecting the Ducks to experience major growing pains this season, but not many expected the Ducks would be 11 games under .500—and still have yet to record a conference victory with less than a month left in the season.

The most dangerous player on this Ducks team is undeniably junior point guard Tajuan Porter. The only major setback with Porter is his height. Standing at 5'6'', Porter is not exactly your typical college point guard. As a matter of fact, Porter is really a shooting guard trapped in a high school point guard's body.

We all remember Porter's freshman season when he broke the Pac-10 record for most three-pointers hit in a single season. Ever since his monster freshman year, Porter has battled inconsistency and bench time.

Why has Porter fallen into what appears to be a two-season slump?

The main reason — as a freshman, Porter started at shooting guard, playing off the ball thanks to the heroics of senior point guard Aaron Brooks, who now plays for the Houston Rockets.

When Porter is able to play off the ball, he becomes much more of a threat because he is able to move around more and catch the ball off a pick, negating his height disadvantage.

So, how can the Ducks work their offense to let Porter play off the ball? Certainly, someone needs to step up in a big way.

Garrett Sim, the freshman point guard out of Portland's Sunset High School, showed during the preseason that he is capable of running the offense, evidenced by big numbers in points and assists.

However, since conference play began, Sim has looks rattled and afraid.

One big advantage for Sim is that he has recorded invaluable playing time as a freshman—something he most likely would not have earned if he had stuck with his original commitment to California. Being "thrown to the wolves" out of the gate has given him valuable experience that he can draw upon and learn from during the offseason.

To read more opinions on Oregon Ducks Basketball go to bleacher report

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