Known for their high-octane offense and barrage of 3-pointers No. 13 Oregon used their defensive intensity to kick-start their offense and beat visiting UC Irvine 91-63 Tuesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
With two new players into the rotation this Oregon defense looks to be potent.
Duck fans might want to get used to that style of play moving forward.
Altman’s Ducks already were loaded to the gills at the guard spot going into Tuesday evening’s game, but the Ducks welcomed back sophomore point guard Dominic Artis and sophomore forward Ben Carter into the fold. Their return allowed the Ducks to force the action on defense and play more aggressively. Which resulted in turnovers and more offensive possessions for Oregon.
“I thought our energy for almost the entire game was really good,” said Oregon head coach Dana Altman. “We got some hands on some passes. Communication at times still wasn’t good, but the energy and the effort I thought was really good. I thought we flew around.”
The Ducks forced the Anteaters into a season-high 19 turnovers, 13 being steals by Oregon players.
Nine different Ducks recorded a steal and senior forward Mike Moser led the Ducks with three. Oregon's depth, athleticism, and multiple pressing sets force opponents to never know where the Ducks could be coming from.
Great defensive teams don’t just force turnovers though, they convert those turnovers into points at the other end. Tuesday Oregon’s defense flipped those 19 turnovers into 27 points.
“I thought our presses established that,” Altman said of the turnovers. “With our added depth it’s a little easier to extend the defense.”
Last Saturday against Illinois Altman was disappointed his team allowed the Illini to dictate the tempo of the game and hoped his team would be mature enough to learn from their victory over a tough team. That lesson appears to have been received according to Altman.
“I thought we took a step. I liked our activity,” said Altman. “We talked about against Illinois we didn't create enough with our defense. We were kind of on our heels and so I thought we took a good step there today and got some activity. We really made some progress there.”
The Ducks still have improvement to make, but with added depth at guard and in the frontcourt the Ducks can start playing more aggressive on the defensive end, which will result in more offensive possessions for a team that happens to be one of the most potent offensive programs in the country.
“When we've got guys, we want to get into those passing lanes, we need to extend some energy. Extend the defense,” said Altman. “I want to get as many hands on balls now. Our depth doesn't do us any good if we don't get more possessions, speed the game up, and try and utilize that depth as much as we can.”
If Tuesday is a preview of what's to come on the defensive end of the court Oregon fans are going to be in for a treat this year.