It may not be his job, but Arsalan Kazemi wants to retrieve every basketball in sight.
With less than a minute to go in the first half of Oregon’s dominant win over Saint Louis, a Billikens’ hoopster missed a shot that bounced over the backboard and was caught in the metal framing. Kazemi quickly snatched a court-sweep and reached up to poke the ball loose for the official.
Had that reclamation of the ball counted, Kazemi would have tallied 17 rebounds in two straight games. Instead, he was forced to settle with 16.
Yup, that is 33 boards across two games.
“I said I can help my team with rebounding, and I’m going to go out and get as many rebounds as possible,” Kazemi said after the victory that launched his newfound team to the Sweet 16.
In his last three games, Kazemi has totaled at least 12 rebounds per game and eight points.
His stellar performances, coupled with his interesting journey, has spawned three newspapers profiles on him this week alone, one from The Emerald, a second from The Oregonian and the last was published this morning in The New York Times.
Getting a little bit less love from the press, but equally as important to Oregon’s five-game win streak has been freshman shooting guard Damyean Dotson.
Dotson hadn’t reached double digits in scoring in five straight games and didn’t earn a single point in the regular season-ending loss against Utah. But beginning with the Ducks’ first game of the Pac-12 Tournament against Washington, Dotson has been on a tear.
He scored 17 (13 in first half) in the overtime win over the Huskies, followed by 14 (10 in the first half) against Utah in that tournament’s semifinal round. In the final against UCLA, he notched 13 points with solid first half play, and versus Oklahoma State he had 11 in the opening act and finished with 17.
His run of great showings is peaking, and against the Billikens on Saturday he was astounding. Dotson delivered a career-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting going 5-of-6 from three.
Across the past five games, Dotson has shot a brilliant 30-of-62 with an even more luminous 15-of-30 from behind the arc.
If his success continues, Dotson is on pace to score over 16 points against Louisville in the Sweet 16. If Kazemi’s rebounding prowess of the last three games keeps up, expect 15 boards from him against the Cardinal.