Hopefully the Oregon women’s basketball enjoyed their exhibition schedule, because the season opener served as a punch in the mouth and the schedule will only get more difficult. The 78-69 loss to Saint Mary’s wasn’t the concerning part — a mix of wins and losses is to be expected — but rather the way the lost set off alarms.
Granted it’s one game, the first game, but the Ducks got bullied. They lost the battle of the boards 56-42 and were out-hustled the entire game. The inside-out offense implemented by the Gaels proved effective against the Ducks defense and led to easy baskets, something Oregon couldn’t find.
Oregon’s one-dimensional offense that consisted of 45 attempted three-pointers, only 28 percent on-target, left something to be desired.
Head coach Paul Westhead is famous for his quick offense that is notorious for pushing the ball and getting open shots, but in this small sample size, the “system” looked a bit rusty.
“I love 45 three-pointers if we make a bunch,” Westhead said of the barrage of shots chucked up by his team. “I never try and put restrictions on my shooters. I think we were taking pretty decent shots. There were a handful where I was like ‘are you sure you wanted to take that one?’ But of the 45 it’s not like there were 30-plus bad ones. A handful of inappropriate shots but not a bunch.”
This offense has proven to be effective at every level of the game but it is more complicated than just running down the court and hucking up a shot. The Ducks failed to press the lanes and drive to the hoop, providing looks for the shooters.
Instead, Saint Mary’s played a deep zone that gave Oregon fits.
If this offense is going to work, the team needs to jump the passing lanes and force turnovers, which lead to the fast breaks. They need to penetrate and break down zones. And most importantly, they need the shots to fall.
“We are really improving on our defense, we took a big step from our last two exhibition games,” said Danielle Love, a junior forward who shot 4 of 14. “We need to work on knocking our shots down ’cause I think if we had done that we would have been okay. I was happy with my looks. I thought that we were getting open players the ball and making players open off the drive but they just didn’t fall tonight.”
Bottom line, to play this type of offense the opposing team needs to respect the shooter. They need to respect the drive in order to open up shots, otherwise the defenders will be more than content to sit out on the three-point line all night. If Oregon wants to master this high-octane offense they need to become more versatile and keep defenses guessing.