Hoops Preview - Oregon

LOS ANGELES – Who were those guys in the green and yellow that absolutely buried the hometown UCLA Bruins Thursday night? Wow. Coach Dana Altman had the Oregon Ducks firing on all cylinders. They outplayed the Bruins in every facet of the game, and now Washington gets their best shot Friday night. The Pac-10 Tourney semifinal game is set for a 8:30 p.m. PST tipoff.

So how does Lorenzo Romar feel about facing the Ducks tomorrow night? He is full of admiration and respect for the guys from Eugene with the big time sugar daddy.

"That is a TEAM, in every sense of the word," said Romar about Oregon.

Romar was still in his press conference talking about the efforts of his team in their win over WSU when he had to change focus and talk about the Ducks.

"Oregon does everything as a team. They play well TOGETHER. Those guys defend well as a team, they pass to each other in good places, and they make it very difficult on you."

C.J. Wilcox agreed with his coach.

"Against Washington State, we really faced a one-man show. Klay Thompson is an incredible, all-everything type of player. Oregon puts more weapons on the offense that you have to think about," said the redshirt freshman from Nevada.

"We will watch some film of them tonight, but really we know them since we've seen them twice this year. We will have to defend all of their shooters."

Those shooters include E.J. Singler, Tyrone Narad, Garrett Sim, and J.R. Strowbridge. Any of these four can fill it up from beyond the arc. The Ducks thrive on rotating the ball around the perimeter, setting good screens, and getting good looks for their spot up jumpers. Washington will need to rotate well, keep good spacing, but also will need to keep the inside from falling apart when Armstead penetrates the lane.

Inside their post presence is Joevan Catron, a real load. Catron isn't tall but he's big and has both great touch and great hands. Washington will counter with Matthew Bryan-Amaning on him. Hopefully MBA can stay out of early foul trouble, as he picked up his first two fouls less than four minutes into the contest this evening.

Malcom Armstead runs the point for the Ducks. He is capable of handling the ball and dishing into good places for Duck sharpshooters to do damage. Isaiah Thomas will draw that defensive assignment.

Washington is deeper than Oregon, more talented than Oregon, and are certainly bigger than the Ducks.

Where Oregon gets the edge is in playing cohesive. The Ducks execute extremely well in both the half-court and on their zone defense. They are very disciplined, much different than the Ernie Kent Ducks were. They are capable of burying teams with their outside shooting.

Washington will most likely counter with the same line up that they put out on the floor against the Cougars this evening.

That would be Isaiah Thomas at the point, who will once again play 40 minutes. Lorenzo Romar joked that "he's been waiting for a game like this since he got here. He has wanted to play all 40 (minutes) since he arrived."

Thomas smiled and replied, "Of course I have."

C.J. Wilcox will start at the other guard position, and his stroke is extremely pure right now. He hit arguably the two most important shots of the evening for the Huskies in the second half. Romar called them "HUGE".

Kim and I asked Lorenzo after the game if C.J. had the green light to shoot tonight and his reply was. "Well, I guess you could say yes. I pretty much told him when he signed that he had the green light, so, yeah. He had it."

Wilcox also had a key steal late in the second half when it looked like Brock Motum was going to go in for an easy jam under the rim.

Terrence Ross should absolutely get the start at the small forward position. He is quick, he is a good rebounder, and his confidence is soaring after this evening. He is so aggressive on the offensive side, that mentality was crucial this evening. It will help against the Ducks, who will be more difficult to defend than the Cougars were.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning should have a big game against the Ducks because they have on one that can match up size-wise. He had a stretch this evening that showed why he is an NBA type of talent. He should get more looks against Oregon if the offense is flowing.

Justin Holiday did his best against Klay Thompson, but when a guy is draining threes in your face, sometimes you just have to say, "good shot, sir." Holiday had 11 rebounds and although his outside shot was not falling, he was able to score inside when the opportunities presented themselves. He worked hard all night.

It is hard to watch Holiday line up open three-pointers and miss them over and over again. It is clear that the opposition are giving him those looks. He needs to move the ball to either Wilcox or Ross if he can though, because let's face facts. Ross and Wilcox are more confident right now, and they are flat out better shooters.

Scott Suggs struggled a bit and the Huskies will need more out of him against Oregon. He is a weapon that went largely untapped this evening. His knee is bothering him again, but he will suck it up and bring it tomorrow.

Aziz N'Daiye played about as many minutes as he should have tonight. It would be nice to see MBA rack up about 28 minutes, Gant about 7, and Aziz about 7. That would provide the post with enough depth.

N'Daiye will struggle with Catron because although he is bulky, Catron is slippery and quick. He is just the type of guy that can give N'Diaye fits.

And Isaiah Thomas? What can you say about the guy that played 40 minutes, had 10 assists, led all Husky scorers, and basically willed his team to win tonight?

Lorenzo Romar said of his effort, "I wish I could take you into the film room and show you all of the things Isaiah did tonight that won't show up on the scoreboard. He did everything and then some to help us win and not go home."

So tomorrow evening the Huskies and Ducks will get it on for the third time, splitting the first two contests. There is no question that Oregon is playing much better this time around. Just ask Ben Howland, who just got his butt kicked by Dana Altman's squad.

Washington doesn't have much time to rest from tonight's hard fought win. But they know this. And they also knew that they had to win tonight.

"Yeah, we thought about that," said Isaiah Thomas about the Huskies maybe not making the NCAA tournament if they lost tonight to WSU. "We think about that, and we didn't want to go home yet. We want to keep playing."

And so you shall, Zeke.

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