Putting the dog back in Oregon basketball
The key to ending Oregon's drought in March arrives this summer.
Dana’s been playing with that Rubik’s Cube again.
The Oregon Ducks added a fourth transfer this offseason to the roster on Tuesday, this time with the addition of Central Michigan combo guard Jesse Zarszuela. He’s a 6-foot-3 shooter who averaged 16.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season in 17 games while shooting 35.6 percent from three.
Zarzuela joins junior college transfer Jadrian Tracey, former Georgia guard Kario Oquendo and former Arizona State guard Devan Cambridge on a roster that’s rounding out following the announced returns of N’Faly Dante and Jermaine Couisnard — who you’d assume are aware of what they’re signing up for.
“If they’re going to stay here, they’re going to work their asses off,” Altman said back in March.
Mix that with a top-10 signing class and Oregon, again, enters a season where the expectations begin with the NCAA Tournament. Of course, there haven’t been many times in Altman’s 13 seasons at Oregon when the Ducks haven’t entered the season with promise. That includes the last two years when high-hopes have ended in the NIT.
Here’s my take: If the Ducks can stay healthy in 2023-24, the talk of Altman’s standing as the team’s head coach will quickly disappear. And that’s a feeling that’s oddly been bolstered by watching these NBA playoffs.
These playoffs have been dominated by players who want that action. By players who want the spotlight. Players like Jamal Murray and Jimmy Butler who, clichés be damned, have that dog in them.
The bulldog leader of the eighth-seeded Heat has knocked off No. 1 Milwaukee, No. 3 Philadelphia and now has No. 2 Boston on the ropes. And he’s done so by wanting the basketball, talking smack and leaving a pair of MVPs in his wake.
Nobody expected that. Kind of like nobody expected Jackson Shelstad and West Linn to upstage No. 1 Duncanville back in December at the Les Schwab Invitational, something Shelstad was still ribbing No. 1-overall recruit Ron Holland for at the Nike Hoops Summit last month.
“Who won that game again?” teammate Jared McCain asked Sheldstad during a press conference.
“You’re going to have to let Ronny answer that one,” Shelstad laughed.