The Ralphie Report sat down with the great Oregon blog, AutzenZoo.com, to discuss tonight's Pac-12 conference tournament game in LA (9:30pm MT, FSN). Thanks to Joe for the answers.
You can check out my answers to their questions here.
Devoe Joseph was named to the Pac-12 First-team, the first Duck to receive that honor. Who else in the Duck's starting 5 should Buffs fans be wary of?
If we're looking at the starting five, I think you have to watch out for Garrett Sim and E.J. Singler. Everybody knows about Kyle's younger brother, who is the leader of this team and plays his heart out defensively. He's the team's leading rebounder and is solid on offense as well. Sim was the guy who really put a dagger into Colorado's hearts in their last meeting, because his three-pointer on a deflect kick-out got the crowd going. The Buffaloes aren't exactly the best team on the road, and those kinds of shots can put a dent into a team. Sim is arguably the best shooter in the conference and is among the three most efficient players- on a per shot basis- in the Pac-12.
It seems like when the Buffs struggle, it's usually on the road. How has Oregon fared on the road and at neutral sites? Their record is good (6-3 Conf. Away games), does the team's energy seem to change when they're away from Eugene?
If we only look at Pac-12 games, the three road losses were against Cal, UW, and, of course, Colorado. The Buffaloes are a tough team to beat at home, so a one-point loss isn't exactly the worst thing in the world while on the road. Cal and UW are the two top dawgs in the conference, and the Ducks were leading against Cal for most of the game. It was just a case of Cal showing more energy at the end and finally winning a game they were supposed to win. The loss at Washington was frustrating, but the Ducks avenged that loss and are a much better team than they were on New Year's Eve.
Joe said Andre Roberson should have been Pac-12 Player of the Year. What will he say next?!?
When the Ducks beat Colorado, a big component of that win were CU's turnovers (15) and Oregon's points from those (27). What is on Oregon's 'must-do' list to win tonight?
Oregon needs to be able to stop Carlon Brown, because he absolutely shredded our defense last time out. There were times when it seemed like nobody was really guarding him, or they were just powerless to stop him. He drove at will and made some beautiful lay-ups. The big thing for Oregon is to avoid stupid fouls/mistakes while on the road, and they need to get Sim going. It's no secret that when gets hot, this team starts to put points in bunches. The Ducks should be able to take advantage of the perimeter and give him some good looks, but they won't come as easily this time.
Oregon hasn't lost much, but their conference losses don't have much in common. A high-scoring loss (86-83 @ Cal) a low-scoring loss (76-60 @ UW). What is on Oregon's 'must-not-do' list to avoid defeat tonight?
I don't think it is fair to look at that Washington game too much, because the Ducks were struggling at the beginning of Pac-12 play and started to take off after their narrow win at Arizona. That was a big turning point for the Ducks, because it showed the ability of this team to hang on in tough games and not blow the lead. It was one of those chemistry games that shows the true colors of a team. At that point, I think the Ducks realized that they were a legit top four team in the conference with the ability to climb up the ladder.
The Cal loss is more relevant, and the lesson is that the Ducks need to be able to close out those close road games. They lost two to the Buffs and Bears, with that aforementioned victory against the Wildcats coming in Eugene. The whole thing is avoiding mistakes and capitalizing on free throws. And, of course, Olu Ashaolu will rightfully bear the brunt of the criticism in that aspect.
Predictions: Oregon's won 11 of their last 14 games, do you think they're hot enough to win tonight? What about against Cal (the only Pac-12 team Oregon didn't beat at least once?) or the entire Pac-12 Tournament? Number of Pac-12 teams in the Tournament?
Man, this game is going to be a high scoring affair, but the Ducks are the better team and will win it 86-84. This is definitely a stern test for Oregon, and they have to win it if they want the selection committee to give them a chance. I don't see the Buffaloes being able to contain Devoe Joseph, and [the] one-and-done senior star will lead them to victory. I think the Ducks end up beating a Cal team that is starting to slip, because the hot teams do better in the tournaments; the cold teams don't. The Ducks will end up winning the entire thing against Washington, and that would be the perfect ending. Although the Pac-12 is weak after the best five teams- very weak at that- the top teams are legit and shouldn't be downplayed by the biased east-coast pundits. Sorry, I had to slip that in there.
Cal, Washington, and Oregon are legitimate NCAA teams, and Oregon will get in if they get to the finals. They should get in no matter what, but calling for a semi-finals appearance is cutting it close. Nobody is confident in the selection committee's process, and it seems like they will also be biased against the Pac. That's a shame, given the play of the top three teams in the conference and the conference's ability to succeed in the tournament. Every year, we hear the same argument about how the conference is weak, and the teams that get knocked are the ones that do well. In fact, most of the teams in our conference end up losing to eventual Elite Eight teams. If the decision was up to me, Cal, UW, and UO would be in. But it isn't. UW and Cal are locks, and Oregon is a lock with a semi-finals win. A loss against Colorado is cutting it extremely close, and a loss to Cal makes it a 50-50 chance.
Go Buffs! Lets beat those Ducks!