Three-Point Thoughts: Duke/Oregon


The Duke Blue Devils head even further out west this week to face the Oregon Ducks. This game is for Kyle Singler, who hails from the Beaver state. As everyone should already know, Coach K always tries to get a “home-state” game for his scholarship players. This is Kyle’s return.

Right now, the Ducks are known for their number one ranked football team and not for their basketball. You might remember the Ducks’ ridiculous 41-day coaching search this off-season. After pretending they actually had a shot a coaches like Gonzaga’s Mark Few, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Butler’s Brad Stevens, Florida’s Billy Donovan and Michigan’s Tom Izzo, they finally remembered they were Oregon basketball and settled on Creighton’s Dana Altman.

On a sad note, this game will be played in the Rose Garden, home of the Portland Trailblazers (home to the broken down body of Greg Oden). I only say sad because we’ll miss out playing basketball at Oregon’s brand new Matthew Knight’s arena, which features this travesty of a home court.

I’m assuming it’s not suppose to represent spilled paint, right? Let’s research.

"According to the University of Nike, “The court is framed by a representation of a view from beneath a forest of fir trees.”"

Damn you Nike! Remind me never to stand beneath a fir tree.

Anyhow, let’s talk some hoops.


The highlight of this game will be the match up of brother vs. brother. While this certainly won’t be the second coming of Cain versus Abel, Kyle Singler will take on his little brother, E.J. Singler. Now brothers taking on brothers is nothing new, but this one is intriguing. The fact is, the two brothers both play a hybrid small forward/power forward and the pair could have a ton of face time together on the court Saturday afternoon.

While Kyle is only a bit taller (about two inches), but he’s a lot stronger. He out-weighs his brother by about 20-25 pounds.The fact is, Kyle would benefit physically if his brother is matched up against him. I’m looking forward to seeing how the coaches match these two up.

For Singler though, this game is really less about being back under his beloved fir trees or going all Buzz McCallister on his little brother. The reality is, over the last three games, he hasn’t really shot the ball that well. For the season, he’s hitting only 40-percent of his shots, 29-percent from three.

Great teams avoid the traps and this game is certainly a trap. This game is sandwiched between games against top-five foes (Kansas State and Michigan State). No one can blame the Blue Devils if they’re still a bit excited about their ass-whipping of K-State and you certainly can’t blame them for looking ahead to their battle with the Spartans.

The Ducks are just bad enough to overlook, but they’re good enough to take down a team that looks past them. Besides, don’t be fooled by the Portland location. This is a home game for the Ducks.

After five games, this Duke team looks good…real good. However, they are far from perfect. The power forward spot is still up for grabs. Currently Ryan Kelly starts and since he’s been starting, he’s been fine. He’s hit 9-14 shots (3-5 from three). He has 12 rebounds total, four steals and four blocks. Not bad, but he’s not really playing a ton of minutes. He’s never sniffed 20 minutes of playing time, averaging about 13 minutes per game.

Miles continues to come off the bench. He got 24 minutes in the win over Colgate, but over the last two he’s averaged just 11 minutes. He’s been okay so far. He’s shooting over 50-percent and has grabbed 18 rebounds on the season.

With Josh Hairston getting almost no minutes in the CBE Classic. The reality is, Coach K has two options at the PF spot. He either rotates one of these guys in their or he plays Kyle Singler at power forward.

I still believe this Duke team will be a better Duke team with either Miles or Ryan starting and playing solid minutes as the power forward. The reality is, Duke’s one minor weakness could end up being rebounding. Their ability to crash the glass is what will help solve any off-shooting night this team has planned in the future.

The problem, the coach needs someone to step up and take over. Like I said, both Miles and Kelly have been fine, but greatness is needed.


The Ducks come in with a ton of experience on the floor. Seven of their top eight players are upperclassmen and only one freshman gets any playing time.

The man to stop is Joevan Catron. The senior forward is actually in his fifth season and after spending most of his time at Oregon as a role player, he’s suddenly become a go-to scorer. He’s averaging 19 per game so far. However, he does most of his damage inside, which could be a problem among Duke’s Plumlee trees. He’s not really a threat from outside.

Overall, no one on the Ducks is a threat from the outside. As a team, they’re only shooting 31%. Jay-R Strowbridge was suppose to be their deep threat, but he’s only 3-17 on the season.

The irony is, E.J. Singler may be their best player on Saturday. He’s shooting a solid 55-percent, which explains why his scoring has doubled from last year (he’s at just over 11 ppg this season). He’s hitting over 50-percent of his threes and he’s nailed 16-18 of his free throws.

Over all, the Ducks will struggle with Duke’s size. At every position, the Duke player will be taller and longer at their respective position. Oregon’s biggest starter is 6’8 Jeremy Jacob. The two other forwards are both 6’6 (Singler and Cantron). Their two starting guards (Armstread and Sims) are a tiny 6’1 and 6’0.

Their is a little bit more size on the bench if Coach Altman wants to get bigger at the forward spot. He could bring in 6’8 Tyrone Nared or 6’10 Martin Seiferth.

If Oregon wants any shot at beating Duke, they’re going to have to spread their floor and try to drive past Duke’s taller, stronger guards. They need to try to force one-on-one match ups, drive to the lane and then force Duke big men to engage.

This Ducks team is not build to slow it down and run a bunch of Princeton-like backdoor passes. They like to run, but if they try to run with Duke, they’ll get blown out of the building.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Trap games always worry me, but let’s be honest, when I’m talking about being worried with this team, I’m not talking about losing, I’m just talking about a game being tighter than it needs to be.

While Oregon can certainly try to get creative on offense to score some points, I can’t think of anything that they can do to stop Duke on the defensive end. They don’t have the athletes to stop Irving, Smith or the Swat team (Dawkins and Curry) and they don’t have the size to control Mason in the paint.

The reality is, the first five minutes should tell us everything. Duke will either be up 20-5 and the route will be on and Duke will win by 29. If the score is 20-16, then look for the Ducks to hang in their, before Duke pulls away midway through the second and wins by 14 points. I’m going with the former. DUKE WINS: 94-65