Oregon Preview

Don't for a second assume that the Cardinal will have anything approaching an easy affair this evening when they hit Mac Court for this season's second battle. The Ducks hit rock bottom for their season with their sweep in the Bay Area, but play their best ball at home, in front of their relentless crowd. Can Stanford dominate the boards again, en route to victory, or will Ernie Kent have his big men ready to battle?

Stanford @ Oregon  2/6/03
Tip-off: 5:30 pm (PST)
TV: OSN (available only in Oregon)

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The Ducks had a Thursday overtime victory of UCLA last week, followed by a hard fought loss to USC on Sunday. Oregon, with that Sunday game, have one less day of rest than usual, and Luke Jackson is nursing a sore hand and ankle. Don't feel sorry for the Ducks, though, as they have the rest of the Pac-10 right where they want them going into the second half of the season.

The Ducks have Stanford, Cal, UCLA and USC at home and Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, ASU and Arizona on the road. Oregon doesn't leave the Northwest until March. Ernie has told the team that the season starts now and the table is set.

A raucous crowd will be awaiting the Cardinal Thursday night that will be trying to get the Lukes and company going. We all know Oregon by now. They are a transition team who will look to run at every opportunity. Luke Ridnour is an awesome point guard who makes almost everything happen for his team, and is a dual weapon on the run with his passing abilities as well as his scoring acumen. Ridnour simply is one of those players who are worth the price of admission to see. Luke Jackson may be the best blue-collar player in the Pac-10. He scores, rebounds, distributes the ball and defends. Forget the fact that his hand and foot hurts. Tell him there is a basketball game he can play in, and he will be there.

James Davis plays a wing and can shoot from deep. Robert Johnson is a banger underneath who looks to crash the boards and defend first. Ian Crosswhite mans the post and can shoot from both the low and high post. Andre Joseph is one of the better sixth men in the conference in the league; he can shoot the trey and create off the dribble. Very physical and athletic. Big Bodied Brian Helquist and Jay Anderson give valuable minutes off the bench.

At Maples Josh Childress and Nick Robinson did an outstanding job neutralizing Luke Jackson, to the shock of fans at home and observers abroad. Jackson is a competitor and will be looking to the match-up as a chance to reassert himself. Nick and Josh will have to be up to the task in a much more unfriendly surrounding. Stanford took advantage of Oregon's meek inside play last game, so you can count on Ernie showing his big men the tape and challenging them to do better. Stanford's bigs need to control the paint.

We need a good game from Jason Haas. If he can spell Julius Barnes and play tough at the top of the1-1-3 zone, it will be a great benefit to the Cardinal. Not to mention, it would be a big test for Haas to play in perhaps the toughest and loudest arena in the conference.  I would like to see Barnes at the 2-guard at some point with Matt Lottich up at the 3. This is a game where you let the J's create. Oregon has a tendency to get into transition before the ball is rebounded. Crashing our offensive boards may be a gamble but it could play dividends with easy buckets. Childress, Robinson and Justin Davis could use their quickness to hit the boards. Rob Little needs to be the enforcer down low.

Stanford/Oregon games have been a lot of fun to watch and this one will be no exception. Find a place to watch it. This game is a toss up and is waiting for the Cardinal to play tough defense, smart basketball and with poise for 40 minutes (if not more).

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