Ducks prep for multiple foes
Oregon has to scout two opponents as it prepares for the Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball tournament.
The Ducks (23-8) earned a bye in the first round of the tournament by finishing tied for second in the conference at 13-5. Oregon is the No. 2 seed and will face either seventh-seeded Oregon State (17-13) or No. 10 Colorado (14-16) in the quarterfinals at 6:10 p.m. Thursday at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“We are trying to get ready for Colorado and Oregon State,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Obviously it will be a tough game against either one of them.”
The Beavers and Buffaloes will play at 6:10 p.m. today in the first round, and the Ducks will be in attendance for a live look at both teams. Altman said getting to see Colorado and Oregon State one last time will not matter much at this point in the season.
“We’ve seen them so much,” he said. “Oregon State is probably tired of us and we are tired of them because every time we get ready for a game we are watching the opponent’s previous game and they played Oregon State. We have had to watch a lot of their film and I’m sure they had to watch a lot of ours. We only saw Colorado one time this year, but they have all their players back and they are a dangerous team. We won a close game against Colorado and Oregon State. We have had close games all year, so whoever we play, it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
While the top four teams are rewarded with a bye, Altman said playing in the first round could be a benefit for the winner between the Beavers and Buffaloes when they face Oregon the following night.
“That second game, when you are in those situations, is usually one of your better games,” Altman said. “You get loosened up in the first game and get the nerves out. That is always a dangerous game with a team sitting there waiting to play. Colorado is deep, Oregon State is not quite as deep, but usually that second night doesn’t bother them as much.”
Oregon will have had seven days without a game by the time they tip off in the tournament.
“I wouldn’t say they were days off,” senior guard Joseph Young said. “We got the team in getting shots up, getting our running in and getting prepared.”
Oregon junior forward Dwayne Benjamin said the Ducks stayed sharp in practice.
“We play against each other like we play a game,” he said. “Every day in practice is intense. One thing coach told us is that we can’t have a bad practice during this stretch and I think we have had pretty good practices.”
Benjamin is one of seven Oregon players who will be at the tournament for the first time. Seniors Joseph Young and Jalil Abdul-Bassit, junior Elgin Cook and sophomore walk-on Theo Friedman are the only players back from last year when Oregon beat Oregon State in the first round and lost to UCLA in the quarterfinals.
“We’ll be a little nervous,” Altman said. “A lot of new guys playing in a new situation, the first time in the tournament. That’s always a dangerous game so you have to be prepared. We have to have two good days of practice here, we will practice there on Wednesday and then hopefully be ready to go at 6 o’clock.”
Oregon moved up a spot to the No. 2 seed when Washington defeated Utah 77-68 on Saturday to knock the Utes into a tie for second with the Ducks.
“I was pretty excited,” Benjamin said. “It is just another thing, but no matter who we have to play, we are still coming to practice as if we were the three seed.”