Who Are You?: Oregon Ducks

Kevin "Kevo" Danna provides the faithful with his preview of the Oregon Ducks, including a look at their current season, the players to watch out for this evening, and the keys to a Stanford victory as they look to complete another sweep at Maples Pavilion this evening.

Despite being undermanned, the Cardinal made it look easy on Thursday night against the Oregon State Beavers thanks to a terrific defensive effort, holding the Beavers to under 37% shooting, forcing 19 turnovers, and outrebounding Oregon State 38-22.  Up next for the Cardinal are the Oregon Ducks, another team that has fallen on hard times as of late but can still throw a scare into the hearts of the Farm Boys.  How will the Card be able to get it done against Ernie Kent?  Let's take a look at the Ducks and find out.

2009-2010: 10-8 (2-4 Pac-10), 8-5 Home, 2-3 Away
A very young team that returns its 2-16 core from 2008-2009, the Ducks came into the season picked to finish 6th in the Pac-10.  The thought was that with a year of experience in their belts, the talented youngsters Michael Dunigan, Malcolm Armstead, and company would be able to supplement senior guard Tajuan Porter enough to land them in the middle of the pack come the second week of March.  However, Dunigan got hurt early in the season and really wasn't 100% for a good bit.  As a result, the Ducks lost four of five in the heart of their non-conference schedule, including that horrendous 37-point loss at Missouri that was part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.  Out of their eight non-conference wins, only the 68-55 win over Colorado State makes any glimpse of a good impression, as the Rams are a much better squad than the one we played the past two seasons.  However, their win at home over Oakland (MI) was a big confidence booster considering Oregon had lost to that team the previous two seasons.  The Ducks share one common non-conference opponent with Stanford - UC Davis, a team Oregon beat 95-64.

So the Ducks rolled into conference play with an 8-4 record but without having proven much at all.  With their first weekend being in Washington, nobody expected anything from Oregon besides a couple of lopsided losses.  But what did anyone know?  A controversial technical foul called on the Washington State bench for coming out onto the court after a DeAngelo Casto made basket with under a second to go sent the game into overtime, where the Ducks would win by two.  They weren't done on the road yet though, as Oregon shocked everyone by handily knocking off the Huskies 90-79.  Oregon was 2-0 in the Pac-10, tied for first in the conference and arguably their toughest weekend behind them.

But then reality hit, and it hit hard.  The Round-ball version of the Civil War figured to be an easy win for the Ducks since the Beavers were coming off a 51-point loss at home to Seattle, but Robinson's bunch found a way to pull a wire-to-wire job on Kent's crew, knocking off the Ducks 64-57.  It has gotten even uglier for the Ducks, as they have not come within a dozen in their past three losses and culminating in a 32-point loss in Berkeley on Thursday night.  How much lower can the Ducks go?  Hopefully a little more for the rest of the weekend!

Team Stats:
• 74.4 ppg (70.9 opp), 35.8 rpg (31.2 opp), 12.4 apg (11.6 opp), 12.8 TO/game (15 opp)
• 44.2% FG (44.5% opp), 33.8% 3FG (36% opp), 70.8% FT
• 7.1 steals/game (5.3 opp), 3.3 blocks/game (2.4 opp)

Key Players:
• Michael Dunigan (#33, 6'10, 255-lb Sophomore Center from Chicago, IL) - This is the big man down low for the Ducks.  Despite getting off to a slow start due to injury troubles, Dunigan is averaging 11.6 points and six boards per contest to go along with almost a block and a half each game.  He had a heck of a Washington weekend, averaging 21 points and 13 rebounds against the Cougs and Husks.  Since then, however, he has been pretty pedestrian, averaging 9.5 ppg and six boards in his last four games.
• Tajuan Porter (#12, 5'6, 150-lb Senior Guard from Detroit, MI) - This is the little guy outside for the Ducks.  After a stellar season his freshman season (remember his first three games in the NCAA Tournament?), it really hasn't quite been the same for Mr. Porter.  He did average a career-high 15.4 ppg in 2008-2009, but it is evident that he misses what Aaron Brooks provided in the backcourt.  His 3FG% has dropped down to 35% from 43.7% his freshman season, but you still never want to give him a look at the hoop.  When Tajuan gets it going, he REALLY gets it going.  He is the Ducks' leading scorer at over 12 ppg.
• Malcolm Armstead (#11- 5'10, 185-lb RS Frosh Guard from Florence, AL) - This is the other starter in the backcourt for the Ducks.  He didn't play last year, so not much was really known about him going into 2009-2010.  It took him a little while to warm up, but he has been pretty consistent for the Ducks all season long.  His 11.3 ppg average is third on the team behind Porter and Dunigan and has already had three 20-point games this season, including 21 at Washington.  He is very athletic and has an ability to get to the hoop despite his small 5'10 frame.

Kevo's Keys To Overcoming Oregon:
• Double Dunigan - He might be a load down low, but he isn't the best passer by any stretch of the imagination.  He has one assist and 25 turnovers in 16 games played.  No disrespect to Dunigan, but that is worse than atrocious.  If Coach Dawkins decides to send someone to help Trotter down low, most likely one of two things is going to happen.  Either Dunigan will put up a tough shot or he will make a bad pass.
• Let it Fly - While Oregon gives up about the same amount of points as Stanford does, they are susceptible to giving up big games.  Missouri dropped in 106 on them and both Washington State and Cal were one short of 90.  They also give up 36% shooting from beyond the arc - why?  One reason is because both of their starting guards are under six feet.  Most likely Armstead is going to have to guard Green, and Jeremy has a six-inch size advantage over Malcolm.  Armstead can contest all he wants, but Jeremy will still be able to elevate over him, and we all know Mr. Green does not need a lot of room to get off a shot.
• Post production - Figure Landry and Jeremy to have big games as usual.  The perimeter game will most likely be on point, but how will things go closer to the basket for the Cardinal?  Schaftenaar has had his moments against us, but he is not a true post player.  Dunigan is.  How will Trotter and company fare against him?  The three posts (Trotter, Daian, Bullock) combined for 16 points and 14 rebounds on Thursday night.  Another similar stat line on Saturday would be huge.

We all know what happened last year when Stanford stood at 3-3 in Pac-10 play. Can the Cardinal get back above .500 this time around?  Get a move on over to Maples for a 5pm tip-off and then log on to TheBootleg.com afterwards for another delightfully descriptive post-game wrap-up from Boom Boom Salloom!

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