Oregon's Defensive Woes

1/12/14 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

Blog Photo - Oregon's Defensive WoesAfter thirteen straight wins to start the season, Oregon has lost their last 2 games, to drop to 1-2 in the Pac-12 early on.  The one conference win was even a close one, beating Utah by just two points. With a schedule that’s back loaded with the tough not starting until the end of the month against UCLA, Dana Altman needs to identify his team’s issues and get them fixed if he wants his team to compete with Arizona and UCLA for the top of the conference.

Shoring up the Oregon defense needs to be the first priority. In the two losses to Colorado and California last week, the Ducks gave up 196 points, and well over 1.1 points per possession in each game. It’s easy to see that Oregon’s style of play will lead to some high-scoring games, but if you can’t get stops when you need them, the losses will pile up.

The defensive woes start out on the perimeter where the guards, other than Dominic Artis, don’t do a very good job stopping penetration into the lane. Against Colorado, the duo of Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker had little problem getting into the lane and finding easy shots, and open teammate, or getting fouled. On the day, the two combined for 13 of 25 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from three-point range, and they go to the line 23 times (11 for Dinwiddie, 12 for Booker), where they hit 21. All told, they had 50 of Colorado’s 100 points.

It was the same problem against California, where the guard trio of Tyrone Wallace, Jordan Mathews, and Justin Cobbs, combined for 66 points on 21 of 39 from the floor, and 18 of 20 from the free throw line. Cobbs also had 11 assists on the game, though the Ducks were able to force 17 turnovers in the game.

The other problem area is rebounding, where Oregon was at a decided disadvantage in both games last week. Against Colorado, the Ducks were outrebounded 39 to 30, though even more concerning was that 17 of Oregon’s 30 rebounds were offensive. 12 defensive rebounds for a game won’t win many. Colorado big man Josh Scott led all players with 12 rebounds, and his play highlighted an area where Oregon is at a big disadvantage – size. The biggest rotation players with regular minutes are Richard Amardi and Mike Moser, both 6’8. Josh Scott is 6’10, as is California Richard Solomon, who had 16 points and 9 rebounds against Oregon.

Rebounding isn’t the only area though where the size advantage comes into play. Both Colorado and California were able to create great shot opportunities by playing the game inside-out. The teams would get touches into the middle and then wait for the defense to have to come and help because of the mismatch. This then created easy lanes for the guards to attack.

With big men in the conference such as Jordan Bachynski of Arizona State, Omar Oraby of USC, Kaleb Tarczewski of Arizona, and Dwight Powell of Stanford, Oregon will need to do a better job with their defensive schemes to help limit the touches to the post area, as well as making sure as many players crash the defensive glass as possible to help Moser and Amardi out.     

If Oregon can find a way to help limit their exposure on the defensive front, they have more than enough offensive firepower to stay near the top of the Pac-12 race, but Altman will need to start making adjustments as soon as possible.
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