Winning is Fun and Scary at the Same Time

Why this guy was so intent about staying in the Oregon student section is beyond me. At least we got to laugh at his expense. Thanks, Puddles.

Why this guy was so intent about staying in the Oregon student section is beyond me. At least we got to laugh at his expense. Thanks, Puddles.

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.

This guy is 24? More like 34.

This guy is 24? More like 34.

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.

Other Notes:

  • 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).


The Win is Nice, But Nice Enough to Save Ernie’s Job?

Funny headline from Yahoo: Oregon gets uglier than usual for a good cause.

Funny headline from Yahoo: Oregon gets uglier than usual for a good cause.

This Oregon team threw themselves after loose balls, crashed the offensive and defensive boards with reckless abandon and at the same time, somehow managed to run a much smoother, controlled offense that featured several pick and rolls (even making contact with the defenders!) – something I figured as a lost art for the Ducks.

As much as I’ve criticized Kent the past few weeks, I have to give him some credit tonight. He had his team ready to go, laid out a solid game plan, kept them interested through halftime and didn’t blow it down the stretch. For Ernie, that’s a win.

But Mr. Hot Seat did something tonight that we haven’t seen for a while: he made adjustments.

UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic nailed three nearly consecutive treys early in the first half (with each one earning more and more of the Pit Crew’s ire). So what did Ernie do?

He switched to a zone defense and made sure two players closed in on Dragovic whenever he got the ball within shooting range, knowing that everyone else on the Bruins shoot about as well as a Storm Trooper from Star Wars. Well, at least until Michael Roll brought out his inner Reggie Miller and started knocking back clutch threes like Jon Daly knocks back Jack Daniels. (Think I got enough analogies in that paragraph? Sheesh.)

The switch worked, Dragovic went cold and the Ducks took control of the game.

Yet somehow, despite E.J. Singler and Matt Humphrey’s heroics, Oregon still couldn’t win in regulation. There was a chance, as Oregon had the ball in a tie ball game with 10 seconds left, but Tajuan Porter forgot that he wasn’t Michael Jordan, deciding to drive coast to coast and throw up a shot that had a lower chance of going in than Ernie Kent winning coach of the year honors.

Fortunately, Singler and Humphrey continued their Supermen acts into overtime, nailing multiple clutch free throws and three-pointers, respectively.

Unfortunately, after looking so putrid thus far this season (and last year), I’m torn about what happened last night. Do I root for losses every Thursday and Saturday so Ernie Kent will get shown the door? Do I hope for improvement expecting Kent to be fired anyway?

For fans who want to see Kent gone, this is a tricky situation.

In the post-game thread on Addicted To Quack, a few people summed up the situation perfectly. (By the way, am I the only one who giggles to himself every time I hear the phrase “the situation”? I can’t help it.)

MurphyLPendleton wrote: “Just when you are about to write Ernie Kent’s career obituary, he pulls out the defib paddles and shocks this team back to life.”

To which Dave eloquently responded: “Given Kent’s history, we’ll win the Pac-10 tourney to get the auto bid and he’ll save his job again. Then we’ll suck for another season, make the elite eight when Dunigan and Armstead are seniors, then suck again for three more years.”

The truth hurts. I just can’t live that way as a fan of Oregon basketball. It’s too tantalizing, painful, and encourages more hair pulling than fans should subject themselves to.

This one game alone did not do anything to change my opinion that Ernie still needs to go. Even if he pulls together a solid rest of the season, I say it’s too little, too late, kind of like the Adrian Beltre and Erick Dampier contract-year syndrome. Except General Managers are dumb enough to shell out millions because they decided to give a shit for one season, or the play-offs. Yes, I’m looking at you Jerome James.

My question for you, hardcore Duck fans, is this: does last night do anything to change your mind about Ernie Kent’s future in Oregon basketball?

Learning From My Mistakes: Frat-Gate. An Official Apology.

No matter what the outcome is in the Frat-Gate case, the way I handled breaking the story was incorrect. I did say it was a rumor, but like many have said, not early enough and it didn’t matter because the rest of my negativity in the speculation outweighed the bold type.

I have definitely learned a lot from this whole situation. Sadly, it had to be at the expense of putting people’s reputations on the lines. I realize what I did, without official evidence or firsthand knowledge, was irresponsible and uncalled for.

As an aspiring journalist, I understand that my reputation is the biggest thing I own, and trusting unreliable sources is not a smart thing to do, especially when putting the most famous person in your town’s neck on the line.

I really do apologize for what I did. I will accept the consequences (mostly of people deservedly berating me and losing credibility in me) and move on from this experience a better writer and a better person.

Sincerely,
Keith Becker

Lache Seastrunk Commitment Solidifies 2010 Class as One for the Ages (With Video)

The Oregon Ducks received a big verbal commitment from Temple High School star running back Lache Seastrunk this afternoon. This marks their first 5* recruit since former-Duck Jonathan Stewart signed in 2005 and we all know how that turned out.
That said, Oregon is in line for their best recruiting class since, well, possibly ever. With the Seastrunk commitment, the Ducks have moved up from 20th to 13th in Rivals.com’s recruiting class rankings. Finishing is the top 10 is a legitimate possibility.
I’m sure I speak for all Oregon fans when I say that I couldn’t be more excited to see how Chip incorporates LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and the player who owns possibly the coolest name in all of college sports.
It will be a crowded backfield, that’s for sure – but I’m more than happy to make room for a player who has been called “the next Reggie Bush” due to his outstanding speed and agility.
After Bryce Brown’s last second change-of-heart last season, I was ready for anything with Seastrunk, but Sports Illustrated saved us from any last-minute tension by reporting the Texas running back’s decision an hour before the official announcement.
Speaking of last minute changes-of-heart, there are several big name players still on the Ducks radar, especially since the USC flood gates opened with Pete Carroll’s departure to Seattle last week.
As if Oregon didn’t already have enough Texas running backs (LMJ, Seastrunk and 4* recruit Dontae Williams), there might be another one on the horizon.
Josh Huff, a 4* from Chester W. Nimitz High School just outside Houston, has been committed to TCU since early December, but apparently is still strongly considering Oregon. He runs a 4.4 40 – I like.
Ironically, former-Oregon recruit Ethan Grant decommited from Oregon for TCU because of his friendship with Huff.
Moving on, in case you forgot, there are positions out there other than running back.
Gabe King, a 4* defensive end who once was considered a lock for Oregon (he even moved from across the country to attend South Eugene High School), has been wavering on his decision. So much so that Chip Kelly and his staff might have given up on him.
King has officially ruled USC out, and is now choosing between Oregon and Cal. I’ve heard differing reports that say he will end up at either school.
Out of nowhere, Tennessee commit Kenbrell Thompson took a visit to Eugene last weekend and has yet to make a decision. The 4* JUCO (sophomore) wide receiver from El Camino High School is also considering Cal.
Unfortunately, 4* DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, out of Portland (David Douglas High School) eliminated Oregon from his list this week, instead replacing them with Oregon State – although the Portland Tribune article that broke the news seemed a little sketchy.
Oregon still has an outside chance for a pair of 4* defensive tackles: Ricky Heimuli and Bjoern Werner.
At this point, Oregon fans should be more than satisfied with the current class, while any other late additions considered gravy. The official Signing Day is a week from today.
Now the only bad news with such a good recruiting class: we won’t get to see them in action at Autzen for another eight months.
The good news: it will be worth the wait.
Go Ducks!
That can't be comfortable.

That can't be comfortable.

The Oregon Ducks received a big verbal commitment from Temple High School star running back Lache Seastrunk this afternoon, a development that gave the organization its first five-star recruit since former-Duck Jonathan Stewart signed in 2005. And we all know how that turned out.

That said, Oregon is in line for its best recruiting class since, well, possibly ever.

With the Seastrunk commitment, the Ducks have moved up from 20th to 13th in Rivals.com’s recruiting class rankings, and fnishing is the top 10 is a legitimate possibility.

I’m sure I speak for all Oregon fans when I say that I couldn’t be more excited to see how Chip incorporates LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, and the player who owns possibly the coolest name in all of college sports.

It will be a crowded backfield, that’s for sure—but I’m more than happy to make room for a player who has been called “the next Reggie Bush” due to his outstanding speed and agility.

After Bryce Brown’s last-second change-of-heart last season, I was ready for anything with Seastrunk, but Sports Illustrated saved us from any last-minute tension by reporting the Texas running back’s decision an hour before the official announcement.

Speaking of last-minute changes-of-heart, there are several big-name players still on the Ducks radar, especially since the USC flood gates opened with Pete Carroll’s departure to Seattle last week.

As if Oregon didn’t already have enough Texas running backs (LMJ, Seastrunk and four-star recruit Dontae Williams ), there might be another one on the horizon.

Josh Huff , a four-star from Chester W. Nimitz High School just outside Houston, has been committed to TCU since early December, but apparently is still strongly considering Oregon. He runs a 4.4 40—I like.

Ironically, former-Oregon recruit Ethan Grant decommited from Oregon for TCU because of his friendship with Huff.

Moving on, in case you forgot, there are positions out there other than running back.

Gabe King , a four-star defensive end who once was considered a lock for Oregon (he even moved from across the country to attend South Eugene High School), has been wavering on his decision, so much so that Chip Kelly and his staff might have given up on him.

King has officially ruled USC out and is now choosing between Oregon and Cal. I’ve heard differing reports that say he will end up at either school.

Out of nowhere, Tennessee commit Kenbrell Thompkins took a visit to Eugene last weekend and has yet to make a decision. The four-star JUCO (sophomore) wide receiver from El Camino High School is also considering Cal.

Unfortunately, four-star DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa , out of Portland’s David Douglas High School, eliminated Oregon from his list this week, instead replacing them with Oregon State—although the Portland Tribune article that broke the news seemed a little sketchy.

Oregon still has an outside chance for a pair of four-star defensive tackles: Ricky Heimuli and Bjoern Werner . Also, don’t rule out defensive back Erick Dargan and WR Anthony Jefferson . Both are very highly rated and have Oregon on their final lists.

At this point, Oregon fans should be more than satisfied with the current class, while any other late additions—with the official signing day a week from today—should be considered gravy.

Now the only bad news with such a good recruiting class: We won’t get to see them in action at Autzen for another eight months.

The good news: It will be worth the wait.

Go Ducks!

And just for fun:

If you have any questions or comments for me, I can be reached my email (kbecker @ uoregon dot edu) or by twitter.

Jeremiah Masoli, Garrett Embry Accused of Theft by Fraternity.

BREAKING NEWS: Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and little-used wide receiver Garrett Embry were caught stealing from a frat party last night as revenge for Embry being kicked out earlier. The fraternity is reporting two macbook pros, a guitar and a projector as stolen.
Masoli has a history of robbery and Embry has been described by friends as a “clepto”. Members of the frat confirmed the story as “true” and said they are keeping quiet about the situation for now.
Masoli was kicked off his high school (Juniperro Serra, San Mateo, CA) team his junior year because he and three other members of the team jumped a kid at the local mall.
Nothing is official at this point, just word from sources who might have inside info. If these reports are indeed true, it just adds to the list of players who have had legal trouble.
This is not the news Oregon wanted coming off of a Rose Bowl appearance and looking to improve with Masoli entering his senior season.ThisUPDATE: KMTR is reporting that Masoli was named in the Eugene theft report, but police say he’s not a suspect.

From Yahoo! Rivals [UPDATE, 9:14 p.m. ET] Despite a good deal of specificity in this afternoon’s reports that Oregon players Jeremiah Masoli and Garrett Embry were suspects in a fraternity theft — including direct, incriminating quotes from the student who called police — Eugene television station KMTR reported tonight that Masoli and Embry are NOT suspects in the incident described below, according to police. Their names do appear in the police report, however, adding to a web we can only hope will be untangled over the next few days. As they say at KMTR, stay tuned.

UPDATE (11:00 AM): Here is the latest from the OregonianSAE member Max Wolfard has come forward, but still nothing official.

I also heard that Wolfard missed all his classes today and filed for a transfer to Oregon State. He’s in a tough situation.

Here are two more stories from BusterSports.com: here and here.

UPDATE (10:00 PM): “KMTR is reporting that Masoli was named in the Eugene theft report, but police say he’s not a suspect.”

I don’t want Masoli to be guilty, but my source at the frat said they “are very big duck fans” and want to protect the program. Therefore I can’t fully believe the report that Masoli is not a suspect in the case. Just speculation, but they are going to try and save Masoli from any legal ramifications.

The fraternity has very good reasons to say Masoli is innocent and blame it wholly on Embry. Embry is the perfect scape goat: reputation as a trouble maker, connections with SAE and most importantly, NOT THE BEST PLAYER ON THE TEAM.

Read everything with speculation.

UPDATE: There is a report from http://duckterritory.com/that says Masoli is not involved. It is a paid report so I cannot read further. For the sake of everyone, I hope it’s true.

BREAKING NEWS: Sources say quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and little-used wide receiver Garrett Embry were allegedly caught stealing from a fraternity party at Sigma Alpha Epsilon last night as revenge for Embry being kicked out earlier. The fraternity is reporting two macbook pros, a guitar and a projector as stolen.

Nothing is official and no arrests have been made. Just rumor from sources in the fraternity who wish to stay unnamed at this point. NOTHING IS OFFICIAL.

Masoli has been in trouble with the law before and Embry has been described by friends as a “clepto”. Members of the fraternity confirmed the story as “true” and said they are keeping quiet about the situation for now.

Masoli was kicked off his high school (Juniperro Serra, San Mateo, CA) team his junior year because he and three other members of the team jumped a kid at the local mall.

If these reports are indeed true, it just adds to the list of Oregon players who have had recent legal trouble.

This is not the news Oregon wanted coming off of a Rose Bowl appearance and looking to improve with Masoli entering his senior season.

In completely unrelated news, kicker Rob Beard was apparently jumped last night while trying to break up a party on 16th and Hilyard and was taken to the emergency room.

Former Duck Daniel Padilla tweeted this earlier this afternoon: “Twitter Fam please keep my friend Rob Beard in your prayers he is going through some severe surgeries today!! Keep fighting bro. I believe.”

I have received conflicting reports on his condition. Please keep him in your prayers.

For further updates follow me on twitter.

Ernie Kent, I Can’t Take it Anymore (Cal Edition)

Editors Note: The Stanford edition will be available immediately following the Cardinal’s blow out of our lowly ducks on Saturday.

Ernie Kent knows there’s no draft lottery in college basketball, right?

The level of suckitude that Oregon is displaying on the court right now is embarrasing. So much for the best place for a struggling team to be is on the road, right Ernie?

I just sat through another absolutely awful game of Oregon basketball.

Swatted.

Swatted.

Poor shooting, poor defense, poor screens, poor rolls, poor just about everything. And you know what the worst part is? I’m not even the least bit surprised.

This is what I’ve come to expect of an Ernie Kent coached team the last few years. Without a superstar creator to open up the half-court offense or dominate the fast break, the team looks lost.

It’s simple: no Lukes or no Aaron Brooks = no winning team.

I don’t know how much longer we have to wait before Mike Belotti and the athletic department does anything about it.

Look, I know Kent is Oregon born and bred, and there is this pipe dream that it would be some sort of basketball romance if he could lead us to the promise land. But he keeps disappointing us.  It’s gotten to the point where fans are starting to accept futility.

I asked fellow students today if they were going to watch the game tonight and the number one response I got was, “There’s no point, we’re just gonna get blown out anyway.”

This is beyond the point of acceptable. When fans lose interest, even interest in being outraged, things are bad.

And tonight is my breaking point.

There was this giant façade of improvement with a 10-4 record in the pre-season, but if you look a little deeper, you’ll see that we played a schedule that even Joe Paterno and Urban Meyer would cringe looking at.

Not a single ranked team played, not a single win over a team with an ounce of respectability. Their strength of schedule ranks a pitiful 167th.

When you have to decide if your best non-conference win is against Oakland or Colorado State, that’s just pathetic.

And the only reason I can think of why Kent would play a schedule so pathetic is that he wanted to pile up a bunch of easy wins to save face, and his job.

The team combined to shoot 1-18 from the 3-point line. Give them credit for persistence, I guess, but that is not acceptable.

On offense, players are setting screens without making contact with the defenders, and then forgetting to roll to the basket. They’re starting plays 15 feet behind the three-point line, so by the time they run the play, what should be a lay-up is a contested fade away 20-footer.

On defense, they aren’t making adjustments. At the end of the first half, Cal was up 48-21. Were they trying to help Cal show up Seattle U?

Oregon State lost to Seattle U by 51 points, but you know what Craig Robinson did? He and his team were ready for Oregon the next game. They were hungry for a win.

Looking at Oregon tonight coming off three straight losses to Oregon State and the Arizona Schools,  they seemed ambivalent. There’s no fire, no motivation, no sense of urgency.

The final was Cal 89, Oregon 57. Gross.

I’m sorry Ernie Kent, but you’re time is through in Eugene. You can take your perpetual disappointed, incredulous, sourpuss face somewhere else.

We can’t afford to have our program at this level of apathy with a $200 million Matthew Court Arena on the way for next year.

I’m tired of you. And I’m not the only one.

I got a tweet tonight from @NorcalDuck who wrote: “Went to the game. I’ve never seen anything like that. Complete ass kicking. No organization. No drive. Nothing. Emberassing.”

And this is after he sent me this after the Arizona State game: “Ernie Kent needs to go. It’s hard to respect the program when you can’t respect the coach.”

I think that sums it up.

From now on I’m going to root for the other team like a Detroit Lions fan in December, just so we can move on from the Ernie Kent era.

On the bright side, at least this is giving me something to write about. Gotta find the positives in life, right? Even if they aren’t Oregon basketball.

You can follow Keith on twitter or on his Facebook page.

Interview: Talking Pac-10 Football with ESPN Los Angeles’ Arash Markazi

markaziWith all the craziness that has gone down at USC the past couple weeks, I thought it’d be great to get some inside info from a man who actually gets paid to cover the Los Angeles sports scene. Formerly of Sports Illustrated and the LA Times, Arash Markazi, now of the newly formed ESPN Los Angeles, joins me to talk about how the Trojans’ turnover will affect Oregon and the Pac-10.

UO Sports Dude: Hey Arash, it’s great to get a chance to talk to you. You must be pretty busy these days with how chaotic the Los Angeles sports scene has been. First of all, you just made the move from Sports Illustrated to the brand new ESPN Los Angeles. How has the transformation been and what kind of what work will you be doing? The new studio must be nice.

Arash Markazi: It’s been a fairly smooth transition. I was already covering the Los Angeles sports scene for Sports Illustrated so I’m basically doing what I’ve always done but now I’m doing it for ESPN Los Angeles. I’ll still be covering the Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers and other Los Angeles teams as well as some other interesting events that always seem to pop up in Los Angeles such as George Lopez hosting Kobe Bryant’s shoe premiere in Hollywood or Hulk Hogan talking about his return to pro wrestling. There’s always something going on around here.

UO Sports Dude: I don’t know about you, but your colleague, Bill Simmons, has had a huge impact on my development as a sports fan and as a writer. Some have even called him the most influential sports writer of the decade because he started a whole new genre of sports writing, bringing the fans point of a view and a more humorous and pop culture reference-laden style to his column. Has he had much of an effect on you, and living in LA, have you had a chance to meet the Sports Guy yet?

Arash: I’ve met him a couple of times although I doubt he’d remember it. Guys like Rick Reilly and Bill Simmons are in another class. I mean, I guess they’re technically colleagues but that’s like calling Sasha Vujacic and Kobe Bryant colleagues. For example, if I were ever lucky enough to come out with a book and for some reason thought I was important enough to have a book signing I’d be lucky if my friends and family showed up. Simmons has people lined up around the block across the country. It’s amazing. He’s got more Twitter followers than anyone he writes about. He’s easily the most influential writer we’ve had since the advent of the internet.

UO Sports Dude: Going to school up here in Oregon, the Ducks and Pac-10 football is the number one headline year round. Obviously, this was a wonderful year for us, taking over USC’s spot atop the conference. As great as it is knocking off the champs, a strong Trojans team is helpful to the overall health of the conference. What do you expect out of USC this year and beyond that? Do you think the Sporting News was wrong leaving the Trojans outside of their top 25 for 2010?

Arash: Yeah, I think anyone leaving USC out of their Top 25 is ignoring all the talent they have returning. I don’t think they’re a Top 10 team but I’d certainly put them in the teens when you consider that first-year starters like Matt Barkley and Chris Galippo who hit a wall at the end of October will be returning with a full year of experience under their belt. I certainly don’t think USC will ever be as dominant as they once were and quite frankly that’s good for the conference. As much as those dominant USC teams put the national spotlight on the Pac-10, most of it was in a negative light because it looked as if USC was simply beating up on bad teams in a bad conference.

UO Sports Dude: After Carroll’s departure, the Trojans needed to hire a new coach quickly in order to save their recruiting class. Do you think Mike Garrett panicked and took a familiar face or do you think Lane Kiffin will be a successful coach? He definitely has the assistants to tear up the recruiting trail.

I don’t think he panicked in picking Lane Kiffin, I just think he was enamored with the coaching staff Kiffin was going to put together. Sure they would have rather had Mike Riley, Jeff Fisher or Jack Del Rio but those are three guys who are very happy and content with the jobs that they have and weren’t looking to go anywhere else. So, once again, as they did with Pete Carroll, USC settled for the fourth choice. I think the package of Monte Kiffin running the defense and Ed Orgeron running the defensive line and recruiting was a huge reason Kiffin was hired. I’m also sure Garrett was optimistic they could bring back Norm Chow to run the offense but unfortunately for USC that didn’t happen.

UO Sports Dude: Pete Carroll obviously had the perfect personality to coach in Los Angeles. Now that he’s gone, is there another coach in the Pac-10 who can assume his role as the funny guy? I would like to nominate Chip Kelly. He might not be able to attract the same amount (or level) of coeds, but he dressed up as the mascot for College Gameday and the fans really love him. Any chance Chip could fit the bill? Phil Knight could be the next Snoop Dogg.

Arash: With all due respect to Chip Kelly, no one is going to replace Pete Carroll in the personality/celebrity department and that’s OK. What Carroll did at USC had never been done before and will likely never happen again. Outside of the seven straight Pac-10 titles, BCS bowl games, 11-win seasons and AP Top 4 finishes, Carroll was able to attract celebrities like Will Ferrell, Snoop Dogg and Alyssa Milano to USC games and practices. At its height the sidelines at USC home game were more star-studded than courtside at a Lakers game. It’s going to be hard to duplicate that kind of national and pop culture buzz in any other city.

UO Sports Dude: There has been a lot of talk up here about Oregon’s improvement in getting recruits from across the country in Florida, Texas and Southern California. Do you think Oregon is ready for a USC-like run of dominance in the Pac-10 or will parity ensue until the Trojans retake their “rightful” place atop the standings?

Arash: No team, not even USC, will have a USC-like run of dominance in the Pac-10. Like I said before, what USC did for seven seasons is extremely rare. It had never been done before and will likely never happen again. To be honest, as great as it is to have a dominant team, it doesn’t look good for a conference when one team wins seven straight conference titles and 27 straight conference games. It looks like the conference is a bunch of pushovers, which was the national perception of the Pac-10 while USC won 34-straight games. Oregon is clearly the top team in the conference now but they’ve only held that title since Halloween. That could easily change next season as competitive and unpredictable conference was last season.

UO Sports Dude: Finally, I have a basketball question to wrap it up. The Pac-10 has been an absolute mess this year. Not a single team is ranked in the top 25 and only two are in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology. Do you think a dominant team will emerge and be able to make a run in March or should we start thinking about next year?

Arash: There won’t be a dominant team this year and I can’t imagine a team winning more than one game in the tournament. The Pac-10 has never been this bad before. Not only do they not have a Top 25 team, they only have one team in the Top 50. It’s sad. I actually thought USC had a chance to do something before their post-season ban because of their half-court defense and the way Mike Gerrity was running the point. Yeah, if I’m a Pac-10 men’s basketball fan I would definitely start thinking about next year.

UO Sports Dude: Sorry, I lied, I have one more. Here’s the only question Oregon basketball fans have right now: Should Ernie Kent be fired, and if so, could we steal Mark Few from Gonzaga? Fans up here are screaming pretty fiercely for this to happen, especially with the brand new $200 million Matt Court coming next season.

I would never come out and advocate a coach getting fired but Kent hasn’t done a whole lot since reaching the Elite Eight in 2007 and if Oregon is able to get a coach like Few that might be the best move for the program. I think Kent is a great coach but if the fan base is behind him getting fired, the school might have no choice but giving them what they want in the hope of making them happy and filling up the new arena.

Well thank you for everything, Arash. I appreciate you taking so much time to talk to the UO Sports Dude.

Be sure to read more from Arash Markazi on ESPN Los Angeles and  follow him on the Twitter machine as well.

The Ten Worst Pac-10 Games of the Decade

Football season may be over, but since the only thing worth debating in Oregon basketball is “will Ernie Kent ever actually get fired”, I’m going to milk football for all it’s worth.
That said, the popular thing lately has been “best and worst of the decade” stories. I have no problem jumping on the bandwagon.
Since I’m sick and in a bad mood from sitting through a comparative literature class where my professor did his best Ben Stein impression for two hours, I’ll start with the 10 worst Pac-10 games of the decade.
I spent hours researching, poured over reel after reel of game tape, interviewed numerous head coaches and came up with this comprehensive list. I think you will find it hard to disagree.
10. UCLA 28, Washington State 3, 2008: Barely avoided their first shutout since 1984. They wouldn’t have to wait much longer for the next one.
9. ASU 31, Washington State 0, 2008: Just one of the three times the Cougars were shut out in conference play in 2008.
8. Arizona 59, Washington State 28, 2008: How the Cougars managed to score 28 points in a single game is beyond me.
7a. Oregon 47, USC 20, 2009: Fun fact: the Ducks gained more yards against the Trojans this game than they did against WSU in either 2008 or 2009.
7b. Stanford 55, USC 21, 2009: Sorry, just had to throw these two in there to mark the fall of Troy.
5. Oregon 63, Washington State 14, 2008: Legarrette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson had three touchdowns each.
4. Oregon State 66, Washington State 13, 2008: The Beavers managed to win by 53 despite Lyle Moevao’s four interceptions.
3. Stanford 58, Washington State 0, 2008: Remember, Stanford wasn’t even good this year.
2. Cal 66, Washington State 3, 2008: I think Kevin Riley let this game go to his head just a little too much.
1. USC 69, Washington State 0, 2008: All you need to know is that USC had three different 100-yard rushers and Mark Sanchez threw for five touchdowns.
For those of you who weren’t paying attention, this is Washington State’s 2008 Pac-10 schedule sans the Apple Cup (a pathetically competitive, accidentally intriguing game between two winless, hopeless teams).
They were so bad that they averaged a 43-point defeat in each game, even including their 16-13 win over Washington. In nine games, WSU scored a paltry 74 points, just 23 less than they gave up in an average game.
To summarize, they took suck to a whole new level.
If you want, you can blame Mike Price.

Football season may be over, but since the only thing worth debating in Oregon basketball is “will Ernie Kent ever actually get fired”, I’m going to milk football for all it’s worth.

That said, the popular thing lately has been “best and worst of the decade” stories. I have no problem jumping on the bandwagon.

Since I’m sick and in a bad mood from sitting through a comparative literature class where my professor did his best Ben Stein impression for two hours, I’ll start with the 10 worst Pac-10 games of the decade.

I spent hours researching, poured over reel after reel of game tape, interviewed numerous head coaches and came up with this comprehensive list. I think you will find it hard to disagree.

Maybe they would be better if they spent more time practicing football and not rocking out in the middle of a deserted farm.

Maybe WSU would be better if they spent more time practicing football and not rocking out in the middle of a deserted farm.

10. UCLA 28, Washington State 3, 2008: Barely avoided their first shutout since 1984. They wouldn’t have to wait much longer for the next one.

9. ASU 31, Washington State 0, 2008: Just one of the three times the Cougars were shut out in conference play in 2008.

8. Arizona 59, Washington State 28, 2008: How the Cougars managed to score 28 points in a single game is beyond me.

7b. Oregon 47, USC 20, 2009: Fun fact: the Ducks gained more yards against the Trojans this game than they did against WSU in either 2008 or 2009.

7a. Stanford 55, USC 21, 2009: Sorry, just had to throw these two in there to mark the fall of Troy.

5. Oregon 63, Washington State 14, 2008: Legarrette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson had three touchdowns each.

4. Oregon State 66, Washington State 13, 2008: The Beavers managed to win by 53 despite Lyle Moevao’s four interceptions.

3. Stanford 58, Washington State 0, 2008: Remember, Stanford wasn’t even good this year.

2. Cal 66, Washington State 3, 2008: I think Kevin Riley let this game go to his head just a little too much.

1. USC 69, Washington State 0, 2008: All you need to know is that USC had three different 100-yard rushers and Mark Sanchez threw for five touchdowns.

For those of you who weren’t paying attention, this is Washington State’s 2008 Pac-10 schedule sans the Apple Cup (a pathetically competitive, accidentally intriguing game between two winless, hopeless teams).

They were so bad that they averaged a 43-point defeat in each game, even including their 16-13 win over Washington. In nine games, WSU scored a paltry 74 points, just 23 less than they gave up in an average game.

To summarize, they took suck to a whole new level.

If you want, you can blame Mike Price.

I Can’t Take it Anymore, Ernie Kent

I just sat through an absolute wretched first half of Oregon basketball.
Poor shooting, poor defense, poor screens, poor rolls, poor just about everything. And you know what the worst part is? I’m not even the least bit surprised.
This is what I’ve come to expect of an Ernie Kent coached team the last few years. Without a superstar creator to open up the half-court offense or dominate the fast break, the team looks lost.
It’s simple: no Lukes or no Aaron Brooks = no winning team.
I don’t know how much longer we have to wait before Mike Belotti and the athletic department does anything about it.
Look, I know Kent is Oregon born and bred, and there is this pipe dream that it would be some sort of basketball romance if he could lead us to the promise land. But he keeps disappointing us.  It’s gotten to the point where fans are starting to accept futility.
I asked fellow students today if they were going to the game tonight and the number one response I got was, “There’s no point, we’re just gonna get blown out anyway.”
This is beyond the point of acceptable. When fans lose interest, even interest in being outraged, things are bad.
And tonight is my breaking point.
There was this giant façade of improvement with a 10-4 record in the pre-season, but if you look a little deeper, you’ll see that we played a schedule that even Joe Paterno and Urban Meyer would cringe looking at.
Not a single ranked team played, not a single win over a team over a team with an ounce of respectability. Their strength of schedule ranks a pitiful 167th.
When you have to decide if your best win is against Oakland or Colorado State, that’s just pathetic.
And the only reason I can think of why Kent would play a schedule so pathetic is that he wanted to pile up a bunch of easy wins to save face, and his job.
Watching this first half, all the flaws of Duck basketball are in the limelight. 35% shooting from the field, 50% from the foul line and nine threes for Arizona State? How can that be acceptable?
On offense, players are setting screens without making contact with the defenders, and then forgetting to roll to the basket. They’re starting plays 15 feet behind the three-point line, so by the time they run the play, what should be a lay-up is a contested fade away 20-footer.
On defense, they aren’t making adjustments. At the end of the first half, ASU made three consecutive three pointers. How can that happen?
Kent should take a note from wordsmith George W. Bush: “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
Oregon State lost to Seattle University by 51 points, but you know what Craig Robinson did? He and his team were ready for Oregon the next game. They were hungry for a win.
Looking at Oregon tonight coming off a loss to Oregon State in the last Civil War in the history of Mac Court, they seem ambivalent. There’s no fire, no motivation, no sense of urgency.
Right now it’s 71-43, ASU. I’m disgusted.
In the first half, Kent called time outs in the first half with 8:03 and 4:00 minutes left. Doesn’t he know that in less than 20 seconds, there will be a free tv timeout? If he can’t figure out these little things, it’s no wonder he can’t get his team to run an offense.
I’m sorry Ernie Kent, but you’re time is through in Eugene. You can take your perpetual disappointed, incredulous, sourpuss face somewhere else.
We can’t afford to have our program at this level of apathy with a $200 million Matthew Court Arena on the way for next year.
I’m tired of you. And I’m not the only one.
I got a tweet tonight from @NorcalDuck who wrote: “Ernie Kent needs to go. It’s hard to respect the program when you can’t respect the coach.”
There’s more.
I almost went to the game tonight, but I couldn’t get a ticket for my visiting girlfriend. I just got a text from a person who offered to sell me tickets: “F@%k. I’m glad I sold those for what I did. $15 for a $28 ticket. That’s how much the Ducks are worth.”
I think that sums it up.
Goodbyes aren’t always easy, and it might be tough for Kent, but for those of us who have suffered through mediocrity and constantly underperforming teams, it will be about as easy to say goodbye as an Arizona State three pointer.
So long, Ernie Kent. We have finally outgrown you.
Another day, another Duck beat on D.

Another day, another Duck beat on D.

I just sat through an absolute wretched first half of Oregon basketball.

Poor shooting, poor defense, poor screens, poor rolls, poor just about everything. And you know what the worst part is? I’m not even the least bit surprised.

This is what I’ve come to expect of an Ernie Kent coached team the last few years. Without a superstar creator to open up the half-court offense or dominate the fast break, the team looks lost.

It’s simple: no Lukes or no Aaron Brooks = no winning team.

I don’t know how much longer we have to wait before Mike Belotti and the athletic department does anything about it.

Look, I know Kent is Oregon born and bred, and there is this pipe dream that it would be some sort of basketball romance if he could lead us to the promise land. But he keeps disappointing us.  It’s gotten to the point where fans are starting to accept futility.

I asked fellow students today if they were going to the game tonight and the number one response I got was, “There’s no point, we’re just gonna get blown out anyway.”

This is beyond the point of acceptable. When fans lose interest, even interest in being outraged, things are bad.

And tonight is my breaking point.

There was this giant façade of improvement with a 10-4 record in the pre-season, but if you look a little deeper, you’ll see that we played a schedule that even Joe Paterno and Urban Meyer would cringe looking at.

Not a single ranked team played, not a single win over a team with an ounce of respectability. Their strength of schedule ranks a pitiful 167th.

When you have to decide if your best win is against Oakland or Colorado State, that’s just pathetic.

And the only reason I can think of why Kent would play a schedule so pathetic is that he wanted to pile up a bunch of easy wins to save face, and his job.

Watching this first half, all the flaws of Duck basketball are in the limelight. 35% shooting from the field, 50% from the foul line and nine threes for Arizona State? How can that be acceptable?

On offense, players are setting screens without making contact with the defenders, and then forgetting to roll to the basket. They’re starting plays 15 feet behind the three-point line, so by the time they run the play, what should be a lay-up is a contested fade away 20-footer.

On defense, they aren’t making adjustments. At the end of the first half, ASU made three consecutive three pointers. How can that happen?

Kent should take a note from wordsmith George W. Bush: “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Oregon State lost to Seattle University by 51 points, but you know what Craig Robinson did? He and his team were ready for Oregon the next game. They were hungry for a win.

Looking at Oregon tonight coming off a loss to Oregon State in the last Civil War in the history of Mac Court, they seem ambivalent. There’s no fire, no motivation, no sense of urgency.

Right now it’s 71-43, ASU. I’m disgusted.

In the first half, Kent called time outs in the first half with 8:03 and 4:00 minutes left. Doesn’t he know that in less than 20 seconds, there will be a free tv timeout? If he can’t figure out these little things, it’s no wonder he can’t get his team to run an offense.

I’m sorry Ernie Kent, but you’re time is through in Eugene. You can take your perpetual disappointed, incredulous, sourpuss face somewhere else.

We can’t afford to have our program at this level of apathy with a $200 million Matthew Court Arena on the way for next year.

I’m tired of you. And I’m not the only one.

I got a tweet tonight from @NorcalDuck who wrote: “Ernie Kent needs to go. It’s hard to respect the program when you can’t respect the coach.”

There’s more.

I almost went to the game tonight, but I couldn’t get a ticket for my visiting girlfriend. I just got a text from a person who offered to sell me tickets: “F@%k. I’m glad I sold those for what I did. $15 for a $28 ticket. That’s how much the Ducks are worth.”

I think that sums it up.

Goodbyes aren’t always easy, and it might be tough for Kent, but for those of us who have suffered through mediocrity and constantly underperforming teams, it will be about as easy to say goodbye as an Arizona State three pointer.

So long, Ernie Kent. We have finally outgrown you.

You can follow Keith on twitter or on his Facebook page.