A couple of things.
The Ducks looked great today. Thursday too. It was an all-around great weekend for Oregon basketball. Almost too good.
The past few weeks put a lot of fans on the “fire Ernie Kent” bandwagon, including myself, even though I’d never really been a fan of his before. We all know Ernie can recruit, but he’s had problems developing that talent over the years.
Well this weekend, Kent has flipped a 180, getting the most out of his players and more importantly, out-coaching the opposition in crunch time.
When USC tied the game up at 47 apiece, I thought it was over. Oregon looked lazy, lobbing cross-court passes and committing silly turnovers, which the Trojans brought back for easy lay-ups.
But Kent called a well-timed time out and gave his players a chance to regroup. Coming out of the break, the Ducks looked like a different, much more poised team.
Oregon then went on a 13-3 run to finish the game without much tension, with Jeremy Jacob and Tajuan Porter hitting clutch free throws to seal it.
As much as I’m happy that we won, I’m frightened.
Mike Bellotti has already stated that he’s a little gun-shy about firing Kent.
Earlier this week, Belotti gave his opinion of the situation to the Oregonion, saying, “I am one who will probably take the longer road because it’s my first time doing this. What you usually hear people in my position say is ‘we’ll evaluate it at the end of the season,’ and I think that’s wise advice and I should adhere to that.”
That gives Kent nine more games to prove his worth to the first-year AD.
As much as I appreciate what Kent has done for Oregon basketball the past 13 years, and trust me, I really do, the last nine games will not make a bit of difference to me. But I think they will to Belotti.
Ernie has been the coach for 13 years. We know what he’s capable of, we know his style and we know his strengths and weaknesses.
It’s kind of like Rich Brooks in football. We appreciate what you’ve done by making us relevant, but now that we’re here, you can’t bring us to the next level and we want more.
Ernie is a victim of his own – and Phil Knight’s – success in a way.
What he can do when he’s in “must-win” mode isn’t the real Ernie Kent. Like I mentioned Friday, it’s the contract year syndrome. When your job is on the line, of course you’re going to try harder.
So this is what I hope happens the rest of the season. I hope the team keeps playing hard, shows vast improvements from young players like Matt Humphrey, Malcolm Armstead and Michael Dunigan, but falls short of any real success.
I’m just too scared that it will save Ernie’s job.
Look, Ernie, I know we couldn’t be in this spot without you, but unless you can prove that developing talent is your number one priority – and that you’re actually capable of doing it – it’s time to move on.
But hey, if you wanted to stick around in an Ed Orgeron super-recruiter position, I’d be more than happy.
- No matter how aesthetically unpleasing those pink uniforms are, Oregon is still unbeaten in them. I hope they stay with them until they lose, which might not be for a while, as this suddenly re-energized team travels to Corvallis next Saturday for its lone game of the week.
- Here’s a well-deserved shout out for our women’s team, mostly just because of my new-found love for Taylor Lilley. But (wo)man is this team fun to watch. The lady Ducks made up for a loss to UCLA on Thursday by beating USC 85-77, powered by nine (count ’em, NINE) threes from Lilley. Amazing. And an Oregon record.
- Down two, late in the second half, USC graduate manager Stan Holt, was called for a technical foul, apparently for screaming obscenities at the referee. The students starting chanting “You got fired!” and apparently Kevin O’Neil listened. Holt was not on the bench after the next time out and the official word came out after the game that he was gone for good. O’Neil said: “That’s incomprehensible to me in a 2 point game that our manager would get (a T).” He also said: “If somebody is getting (a T) it’s going to be me.” You tell him, coach. But after the game, O’Neil, who looks like a cross between a mad scientist and a tomato, said the heat of the moment got to him, and rescinded his earlier remarks about Holt.
- Finally, I just have to make fun of USC point guard Mike Gerrity. The guy looks like he has Greg Oden disease – old age syndrome, not the other thing. He looks like a 40-year-old version of Jimmy Neutron (that’s him in the picture to the right).