It has been almost exactly six years since Oregon basketball has seen a ranking inside the top 10. No current Duck player, coach or even Athletic Director remains from a 2007 squad that achieved a ninth-place mark in late January years ago. Oregon’s third-year head coach Dana Altman has been ranked inside the top ten, just once, when his Creighton team was placed ninth in the polls back in 2003.
The wait is over. Oregon returned to practice on Monday just hours after being ranking No.10 in the AP Poll, as the Ducks hold an 18-2 record with a tie for the fifth-best winning percentage in the country.
“It is a lot easier to get there than it is to stay there,” said Ducks’ forward Arsalan Kazemi.
“It is special,” said Ducks’ junior point guard Johnathan Loyd. “We have been putting in a lot of hard work for a long time and it’s nice to get some recognition about it.”
Loyd will be putting in even more hard work of the Ducks’ hope to stay in the top 10 as freshman starting point guard Dominic Artis who was averaging over 10 points per game, leads the team in assists and is second in steals, is out for an extended amount of time due to a foot injury.
“I am going to be putting in a lot more minutes now,” Loyd said.
Freshman Willie Moore shared time at the point with Loyd on Saturday against Washington (the Ducks first game without Artis). Moore played nine minutes and scored nine points.
Oregon will be on the road for this week’s games in the Bay Area as the Ducks face Stanford on Wednesday and California on Saturday. Oddly enough, Oregon will travel back to Eugene between the two games.
“We can’t miss three days of school,” said Altman. “We will come back (on Thursday) and go to school Thursday and Friday and then leave Friday after classes so we only miss one day instead of three. Which is really good for our guys with the young students we have.”
Oregon currently leads the Pac-12 standings by two games and is perfect in conference play.
Oregon faces Stanford at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night and Cal at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.