It can sometimes be a comforting phrase, although to hear it at all you’re usually in a far-from-ideal circumstance.
“Things can only get better from here.”
For Oregon Men’s Basketball, it appears they’ve already reached that point in the first week of January.
The Ducks lost to Colorado 68-41 in Boulder Thursday night, a place they have managed only one victory in Dana Altman’s entire Oregon tenure. At this point one begins to wonder if playing there elicits some sort of subconscious response from the Ducks, but on to the matter at hand.
Seven was an unlucky number for the Ducks as they shot 27% from the field, 7% from 3-point range, and 57% from the free throw line.
For as many problems as Oregon has had hitting shots this season, this performance deserved an award of inferiority.
Poor outside shooting performances almost always guarantee a loss in basketball in the modern era. In a 24-point loss to UCONN, Oregon shot 33% from three. In a loss to UC Irvine, they shot 19%. Against Utah Valley, they shot 15% in another loss. But the 7% against the Buffaloes was almost unheard of. Oregon figuratively could not hit the broad side of a barn.
The Ducks, as has been mentioned before this season, are very strong in the middle, with skilled 7-footers N’Faly Dante, Kel’el Ware, and Nate Bittle roaming the paint. However, a team’s success doesn’t just predicate on having productive bigs anymore. The shooters surrounding the bigs have to do their job. Attention to and double teams of bigs will almost always open up good looks on the perimeter.
The excuses are running thin, and not even a week into 2023 the NCAA Tournament is already starting to look like a pipe dream for Oregon.
Altman must address this and figure out a way to get and keep productive shooters on the floor, otherwise Oregon will shoot down their chance at postseason play.