ecember 2, 2000, 11:30 p.m.
TV Coverage: ESPN Regional
Head Coach: Ernie Kent (Oregon '77), Fourth season
Current Record: 4-0
1999-2000 Record: 22-8 (13-5 in Pac-10)
Roster: Seniors: Bryan Bracey (F), Flo Hartenstein (C), Julius Hicks (F/C), David Jackson (G)
Juniors: Chris Christoffersen (C), Frederick Jones (G), Ben Lindquist (G), Mark Michaelis (F), Anthony Norwood (G)
Freshmen: Jay Anderson (C), James Davis (G), Luke Jackson (F), Luke Ridnour (G)
This is the first-ever meeting between UMass and Oregon.
University of Oregon is a member of the Pac-10 Conference. Last season, the Ducks finished 3rd with a 13-5 league record.
The Ducks lost three starters, including their top 3 scorers from last year's squad, and they lost the most point production of any team in the conference. But they countered those losses by signing the No. 1 recruiting class on the West Coast. That recruiting class includes McDonald's and Parade All-American guard Luke Ridnour, whom Dick Vitale named the Pac-10's "Diaper Dandy" of the year. The rest of the class includes Oregon state player of the year, forward Luke Jackson, guard James Davis, and Jay Anderson at center.
A quick polling of several publications finds the Ducks slated for a middle-of-the pack finish in the Pac-10. The Sporting News and Basketball News agreed with the media with a sixth-place selection, while Lindy's, ESPN/Dick Vitale and Street & Smith's forecast a seventh-place finish for Oregon. Street & Smith's predicted a trip to the NIT for the Ducks, while The Sporting News ranked Oregon as the No. 66 program out of the 300-plus Division I teams in the nation. Oregon is ranked No. 68 in Jeff Sagarin's rankings. UMass comes in at No. 137.
The Ducks were 22-8 last season, winning more games that any Ducks team in 50 years. Oregon lost a hard-fought overtime game to Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the school's third postseason trip in four years.
The Ducks return two starters from last season in junior guard Freddie Jones and senior center Flo Hartenstein. In addition, Oregon returns senior forward Bryan Bracey and junior guard Anthony Norwood, two players who were instrumental reserves during the Ducks' NCAA Tournament run.
Bryan Bracey has averaged 15.8 points in the Ducks' four victories; he has a 84.6 free throw percentage, and has shot over 50% from the field, including 57.1% on three-pointers. He is also the team's leading rebounder, averaging nearly 8 per game. Frederick Jones has averaged 15.3 points per game, to go along with Anthony Norwood's 14.3. Freshman Luke Ridnour leads the team in assists, averaging 4.3 per game.
Oregon won its opener against Mississippi Valley State 85-70. Bryan Bracey led the Ducks with 22 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for his first career double-double. Freddie Jones scored 21 points for Oregon, and Anthony Norwood added 15. The Ducks won their second game 99-90 over Denver, and they beat Portland State 84-66 on Saturday. Bracey and freshman sensation Luke Ridnour led the Oregon attack with 12 points each, and Ridnour also dished out 9 assists. The Ducks beat Portland 66-60 Tuesday night. Frederick Jones was the team's leading scorer with 16 points, and Luke Ridnour added 11.
ORTLAND, Ore. — To listen to Ernie Kent, his team is about to play the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team of the 1996 Final Four year, not 2000.
Kent is the Oregon coach whose team takes a 4-0 record into tonight's game against UMass at the Rose Garden. The Ducks have met and dispatched a parade of mediocrity — Mississippi Valley State, Denver, Portland State and Portland — while UMass is 1-2, just like the Minutemen have started in all five years under Bruiser Flint.
But Kent, who guided Oregon to the NCAA tournament last year, speaks of UMass as virtually honored guests to the Great Northwest, even though tonight's 11:30 game seems like an uphill battle for the Minutemen.
"With their tradition and continuity in that program, they know how to win the big games," Kent said. "They will force us to play at a whole other level than we've been, to have any chance at all of beating them."
Flattering words, given that Kent has seen tapes of UMass losses to Marquette and Holy Cross. Those games were lost partly due to poor foul shooting, invisible rebounding and critical ballhandling mistakes.
Even so, Kent says he crafted his schedule to allow a young Oregon team to develop confidence before taking on the stronger programs, of which UMass is presumably still one.
"They have a great player in (guard) Monty Mack, and we'll have to pay attention to him, but we also can't forget about the other guys," Kent said. "Their point guard (Shannon Crooks) is good and clever. They're big and athletic. And we're nowhere where we need to be."
Neither is UMass. Tonight's game begins a rugged December stretch that includes road games against Ohio State, Connecticut and North Carolina. Flint has more reason to cry "poor us" than Kent does, but he wants to believe the Minutemen can turn it around.
"The thing about Holy Cross (a 78-65 loss in which UMass led by eight at halftime) was that if we'd made a couple of baskets at the start of the second half, it was over," he said. "But we kicked the ball around, and the longer we let Holy Cross stay in it, the more they thought they could win."
UMass hasn't played in a week. Oregon's last game was Tuesday against Portland, a 66-60 win that Kent called very disappointing.
"I was not pleased, and neither was the team," he said. "I expected far more energy from us in that game. We have good team chemistry, but I'm concerned with our leadership on the floor."
So is Flint, who expects better performances from veterans like Mack, Crooks and center Kitwana Rhymer than he's seen so far.
Oregon's key player is 6-foot-7 senior forward Bryan Bracey, who is averaging 15.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, and will likely be one of the better opposing players UMass faces. Frederick Jones, a 6-4 junior guard, had 16 points against Portland and is averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 boards.
Other likely starters against UMass are 6-3 junior Anthony Norwood (14.3 ppg.), 6-8 senior Julius Hicks (7.8 ppg., 6.5 rpg.) and 6-2 freshman Luke Ridnour (8.3 ppg.).
UMass has four players averaging double figures — Crooks (16.0), Mack (14.5), forward Jackie Rogers (10.7) and guard Jonathan DePina (10.3). But Mack and Crooks shot a combined 5 for 27 against Holy Cross, and after Rogers scored nine first-half points and helped the UMass offense get out of the gate, his teammates more or less forgot about him.
"We have to make better decisions out there," Flint said. "But this will be a tough game, because Oregon is the best team we've faced yet."
ead coach Ernie Kent is giving his Ducks an early start to final exam week Saturday when Oregon faces Massachusetts in Portland's Papé Jam.
Kent, who lately has been sounding like a professor grading his students, considers Saturday's game at the Rose Garden the first major yardstick for his 4-0 team.
"Saturday's test is going to be huge," Kent said. "Maybe [like] final exams before final exam week."
Kent is not expecting his players to ace this "test," but he would like to see some improvement from the current C-plus grade that he gives them.
"We're 4-0 playing C-plus basketball," Kent said. "We're not at an A level right now, yet we're going to get tested big-time this Saturday [and] that's going to give us an opportunity to get to that level."
The Ducks were not pleased with Tuesday's lethargic 66-60 victory against Portland but took solace in the fact that despite not playing their best basketball, they still remained undefeated. Many of the players believe they will step up their level of play a notch because the game will be played in an NBA arena against a high-profile opponent.
"Yeah, we're really excited about that," said senior forward Bryan Bracey, who was one of the many frustrated Ducks Tuesday after he scored only nine points. "I think we're going to rise to the occasion. I think we're going to play a lot better against better competition."
Certainly the Minutemen qualify as being a bigger name than Portland, Denver and Mississippi Valley State, but they haven't exactly been tearing it up lately. Hopes were high for UMass heading into the season, but so far, it is just 1-2 with its only win being a 67-65 season-opening squeaker against Iona.
After that, the Minutemen stumbled in a loss to Marquette, 68-64, and then fell on their faces against the Patriot League's Holy Cross, 78-65. In that game, Holy Cross outrebounded UMass 52-30.
"We're not making any moves under the basket -- we're just standing behind guys and pushing them in the back," UMass head coach Bruiser Flint told CNNSI.com.
A key for the Ducks will be containing senior guard Monty Mack. Mack averaged 19.8 points per game last season and is the Minutemen's go-to guy down the stretch. However, he has struggled since missing time with an ankle injury and has missed 22 of his first 30 shots of the season.
On the Oregon side, Kent will be expecting his go-to guys, junior guard Freddie Jones and Bracey, to be at the top of their games. According to Bracey, after Tuesday's game, Kent told both him and Jones that "they were nowhere to be found."
"Freddie and Bracey need to make sure, night in and night out, that they have their A game," Kent said. "And if the freshmen can bring their C-plus and B game, then we're going to be OK. But those two guys have got to be locked in every night."
If the game is close, the Ducks should have the edge, as they are 17-5 in the last 22 games that were decided by seven points or fewer.
Saturday's game will provide Oregon with the perfect chance for personal redemption and also to make an early season statement.
"We know we can do it," freshman point guard Luke Ridnour said. "We have confidence in ourselves. We just have to come out and get it done on the floor."
"The good thing about the UMass game is that, win or lose, it's going to make us a better basketball team," Kent said.
The third annual Papé Jam will begin at 6 p.m. with the Oregon women's game, which will be followed by the Oregon men's game at 8:30 p.m. It will be televised by the Oregon Sports Network.
UGENE — Tonight’s game against the University of Massachusetts in the Papé Jam arrives just in time for Oregon senior forward Bryan Bracey.
The leading scorer and rebounder for the Ducks (4-0), Bracey was scoreless in the second half of Oregon’s closer-than-expected 66-60 victory over the University of Portland at Mac Court on Tuesday. He’s ready to step back on the court.
A step up in competition could be exactly what Bracey and his teammates need. UMass (1-2) of the Atlantic 10 made seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1991-92 through the 1997-98 season, and advanced to the 1996 Final Four. The Minutemen went to the National Invitational Tournament last season.
“This is the first time we have an opportunity to prove if we’re as good as we think we are,” said Bracey, who averages 15.8 points and 7.8 rebounds. “I think we’re ready for it.”
The 11th-ranked Oregon women’s team continues to impress despite the absence of junior guard Shaquala Williams. Last season’s Pac-10 Player of the Year, Williams tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in September and will miss the entire season.
Oregon (3-0), which plays Santa Clara (2-1) in the first of two games at the Rose Garden tonight, opened its season with victories over then-No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 18 North Carolina State at the Glaxo Wellcome Invitational in Raleigh, N.C.
“I think we had two great wins at North Carolina that will serve us well down the road,” said eighth-year Oregon coach Jody Runge, who has led the women’s team to seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments. “We’re putting the naysayers to rest as far as how this team would do without Shaq.”
Sophomore Kourtney Shreve, a West Albany grad, has taken over at the point for Williams.
Oregon’s best player thus far has been senior forward Angelina Wolvert, who averages a team-high 15.7 points and 5.0 rebounds. Wolvert joined Williams on the all-Pac-10 team last season.
“She’s doing great,” Runge said of Wolvert. “There were so many pro scouts at the tournament last week, and she wants to have an opportunity to play at the next level. Her focus is definitely there. She’s certainly putting up numbers to replace what Shaq gave us.”
While the men’s team is off to a 4-0 start for just the second time in 23 years, there have been growing pains. Replacing senior starters Alex Scales, A.D. Smith and Darius Wright, who helped lead the Ducks to a 22-8 record and an NCAA Tournament berth last season, figured to be a difficult task. Junior guard/forward Freddie Jones and senior center Flo Hartenstein are the only returning starters.
The Ducks let a 15-point second-half lead dwindle to one point against Portland before putting the game away in the final minute.
“We’re 4-0. That’s a good sign for me and a positive for me,” fourth-year coach Ernie Kent said. “But we’re 4-0 playing about C+ basketball, and that’s OK because we’re not at an A level right now. We’re not ready to go up to that level, and yet we’re going to be tested big time (tonight).”
It’s been trial by fire so far for freshmen Luke Ridnour, Luke Jackson, Jay Anderson and James Davis. During the first half of the Portland game, Ridnour, Jackson and Anderson were on the floor at the same time. Ridnour, the starting point guard, made four free throws in the final minute to help seal the victory.
“Each game I think I’ll get a little bit better and hopefully I’ll be ready by Pac-10 time,” said Ridnour, a McDonald’s and Parade All-American at Blaine (Wash.) High School who is averaging 8.3 points and a team-high 4.3 assists.
Bracey, Jones (15.3 points per game), junior guard Anthony Norwood (14.3 ppg.), and senior center Julius Hicks (7.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg.) round out the starting lineup.
“We hoped to be further along,” Jones said of the Ducks’ progress thus far. “I’m not sure if it was expected or anything like that. We just have to come out and play with a lot of intensity and get back to the drawing board and work hard. I think if we do that we’re right on pace.”
ORTLAND - The performance of the Oregon men's basketball team so far this season is clouded by the perception that the Ducks should be able to beat the teams they've played without breaking a sweat.
Well, only a year ago, the UO team that finished 22-8 and went to the NCAA Tournament didn't exactly flourish coming out of the gate.
It barely won at Chicago-Illinois, as this year's team struggled at Denver; it had to come from behind to beat Portland and barely held off Portland State, while this year the Portland game was close but the Portland State game wasn't; and last year the Ducks were upset at home by Cal State-Northridge, admittedly a better team than the Mississippi Valley State team they beat to open this season.
That was a veteran team thought to have NCAA potential, while this is a relatively inexperienced squad that still takes a 4-0 record into tonight's 8:35 game against Massachusetts at the Rose Garden in the third annual Pape Jam.
Last year, the Ducks responded to the tougher competition by beating Minnesota before star center Joel Pryzbilla got kicked off the team. This year, everyone will have a clearer picture of the Ducks' talent and toughness after a bout with the Minutemen, who are only 1-2 but played in the NIT last year and have a strong program in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
"I'm looking forward to the test," UO coach Ernie Kent said. "We'll get a feel for where we're at, and win or lose we will be better for it because games like this force you to grow. We'll have to play at a different level to have an opportunity to win."
The Ducks were openly frustrated after narrowly beating Portland earlier this week, but Kent believes that will be in the past by the time they face UMass.
"We spent time getting their mental back where it should be," Kent said. "We acknowledged a little frustration was understandable, but let's get back together because there's a lot of basketball yet to be played.
"We've also added a few things offensively which I think will make it easier for us to get some things done. We've kept everything pretty simple until now because we didn't want to throw too much at the freshmen. We look at this game as a tremendous opportunity to get some momentum heading into finals week and then a three-week stretch of nothing but basketball when we'll put in a lot more things."
Oregon with its depth inside should have an advantange on the Minutemen there. UMass has been outrebounded 12.0 per game and doesn't have the depth inside the Ducks do with Bryan Bracey, Julius Hicks, Flo Hartenstein and freshmen Luke Jackson, based on the way he's played the last couple of games.
The Ducks will be tested on the perimeter as the Minutemen boast an outstanding guard in Monty Mack, the second-leading active scorer in Division I with 1,646 points.
"They are a very athletic team," Kent said. "They shoot very well when they are on. My concern is to lock up on their perimeter shooters and keep them off the boards so they don't get more than one shot."
The Minutemen like to run, but coach Bruiser Flint said he's not looking to keep up with Oregon.
"I don't think we can win if we try to play like they do," he said. "They are very athletic, they can all shoot and they do a great job of spacing you and coming off screens. They aren't tall, but they are long. It looks like their arms hang clear down to their ankles.
"They've lost a lot of experience from last year, but when the new guys get settled in and the veterans get comfortable with new roles, they are going to be good."
The Ducks are hopeful that playing a team with a national reputation will bring new life to their game.
"I think we'll rise to the occasion and play better against better competition," Bracey said. "It's not like you can just push a button and turn it on, but this is a lot more exciting than trying to get ready for a team you know you should beat. I think we'll respond."
Oregon did last year against Minnesota.
"We took a giant step forward up here last year," Kent said. "This team is actually ahead of everything we were doing last year except for experience. And we haven't had an 'oops' this year like we did last year against Northridge. So we're a leg up on last year, if anything."
OREGON vs MASSACHUSETTS
OREGON (4-0) STARTERS
(8.3 ppg, 4.3 apg)
(14.3 ppg, 3.0 apg)
(15.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
(15.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg)
(7.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
MASSACHUSETTS (1-2) STARTERS
(16.0 ppg, 2.7 spg)
(14.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
(1.7 ppg, 4.0 apg)
(10.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
(4.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
8:35 p.m., PST.
KUGN-AM radio (590). Live TV on the Oregon Sports Network.
Reserved seats $28, $20, $10.
WATCH: The strength of UMass is on the perimeter, so it's vital Oregon win the battle inside where UMass has struggled. This requires solid scoring, rebounding and defense from athletic power forward Bryan Bracey, the Ducks' leading scorer and rebounder.
THE DUCKS: Oregon has defeated Vanderbilt and Minnesota in the previous Pape Jam games ... Portland native Frederick Jones had 18 points and five rebounds against Vanderbilt, 10 points and four assists against Minnesota. He and Flo Hartenstein are the only Ducks to play in both games ... The Ducks will be 5-0 with a win for the second time since 1974-75 and for the 17th time in school history.
THE OPPONENT: Massachusetts opened with a 67-65 win over Iona at home, then lost on the road to Marquette 68-64 and Holy Cross 78-65 ... Jackie Rogers is a transfer from West Virginia .... The Minutemen have been outrebounded 12.0 per game and have hit just 58.2 percent from the line, but its foes have shot just 38.5 percent from the floor.