The ninth-ranked Ducks -- the first PAC-10 team to pull off the football-basketball conference championship parlay since UCLA in 1982-83 and the first Northwest school to ever accomplish the feat -- are quacking to begin their march through March against the team that has, surprisingly, given them more trouble than any other PAC-10 foe this year.
"We're going down there with the idea of winning this just like we did the regular season," reserve guard Anthony Lever said. "I know Washington is anxious to play us. But we're anxious to play them, too, with everything they've been saying.
"We resent the fact they talk like they are equals with us when we're where we are and they're where they are."
Washington's Doug Wrenn concurs. "I personally know they want to face us," Wrenn said. "They didn't want Arizona State or anyone else. And we have to go in there looking at it like these teams want an easy win, so they want to play us.
"In all honesty, we're not going to let that happen. The sky's the limit for us now."
Husky coach Bob Bender was impressed by the Oregon road sweep of the L.A. schools to earn the title. "Oregon is the undisputed conference champion of the regular season, and they did it on the road," said Bender. "A lot has been made of Oregon's record on the road (5-6), and they sure put that to rest.
"Even though our last game with Oregon was two weeks ago, they're a different team."
The teams' two earlier meetings certainly suggest a high-flying affair will kick-start the return of the PAC-10 tournament after a 12-year hiatus. And it could be fun for the early arrivers to watch the third installment of Doug Wrenn vs. Frederick Jones.
Washington upset Oregon 97-92 in Seattle on January 24 behind Wrenn's 32 points. Jones pumped in 27 for Oregon, and Luke Ridnour added 23. The February 23 return engagement in Eugene saw Oregon hold off a late Husky rally to win 90-84. Jones led Oregon with 33, while Wrenn again paced the Huskies with 27. Curtis Allen scored 18 in both contests.
So in two games, it's been Oregon 182, Washington 181. And it's been Jones 60, Wrenn 59 -- both players displaying high-wire antics that garnered rave reviews.
Ridnour may have said it best for both teams, considering Oregon is a lock for the big dance and Washington isn't considered a factor. "It's going to be a lot of fun. There's absolutely no pressure now. We can play and have fun, and that's when we're at our best."
And if Washington comes out with their best, it should be another shootout.
The winner will face the winner of USC/Stanford in the semi-finals Friday evening at 6:15.
GAME NOTES: The last four PAC-10 conference tournaments saw the regular-season champ also win the tourney title . . . Unless March Madness somehow finds enough miracles to will Washington to three wins and an automatic NCAA bid, this tournament will be the last hurrah for KOMO flagship radio coverage of Husky sports. Starting next August, Washington football and basketball will be heard on KJR Sports Radio . . . this will be the second time Washington and Oregon have met in the PAC-10 tournament. In 1987, the Huskies beat the Ducks 70-56 in the semi-finals. Washington would eventually lose to UCLA in the title game . . .
(Rick Samek can be reached at email@example.com)
WASHINGTON HT PTS REB Doug Wrenn 6-8 19.7 6.3 Grant Leep 6-7 7.8 4.0 David Dixon 6-11 8.3 7.7 C.J. Massingale 6-4 5.8 3.2 Will Conroy 6-1 2.5 1.6* OREGON HT PTS REB Robert Johnson 6-8 7.6 7.4 Luke Jackson 6-7 15.8 5.2 Chris Christofferson 7-1 8.1 5.5 Frederick Jones 6-4 18.6 5.7 Luke Ridnour 6-2 15.1 5.0* (* = Assists)