Tag Archives: Basketball

Matt Arena: The Legend Of ‘Mighty Oregon’ Just Got Bigger.

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Even at a relatively young age, I’ve seen and experienced my share of storied locations in the sporting world: Michigan Stadium (The Big House), Neyland Stadium (Tennessee), Memorial Stadium (Cal-Berkeley), Madison Square Garden, Staples Center, The Rose Bowl, and of course, historic McArthur Court.  However, after taking a recent sneak peek at the brand-new $200 million Matthew Knight Arena, my jaw may need some dentistry work done, as it spent so much time on the floor during the tour.


 

New Highlight Entrance To The UO Campus

The new home to the University of Oregon basketball program has to be inducted as one of the wonders of the sporting world.  TVA Architects, the Portland based architecture firm, developed a magnificent vision to represent Oregon basketball and revolutionize how NCAA basketball arenas are built.  According to their press release, one of the main goals of the design firm was to “not only honor the heritage of Mac Court, but to also create a forward-looking, modern ‘theater for basketball’ that will provide an unprecedented experience for players and fans alike.”  Mission accomplished.


 

Entrance


 

Main Concourse

For Ducks fans, Mac Court is a cornerstone of the Ducks experience and a wonderful venue to experience a basketball game.  However, ‘The Pit’ has been around for 84 years and, for as much as fans love its nuances, has become outdated.  As much fun as it is to sit in hardwood seats, cramped quarters, have multiple obstructed views, and only a couple bathrooms to choose from, it was time for a change.  It was the second oldest on-campus arena in the nation and it definitely looked and felt that way.  It will be forever remembered for having the crowd on top of the action and raucous noise the audience generated to back their team.  Thankfully, all of this has been preserved and recreated to a greater extent in the new venue.

The outside of the building is a tease to the anticipation of the action that lies inside.  Lead designer Robert Thompson: “The building’s orientation, scale, and transparency all serve to create a sense of anticipation for fans from the moment they park their cars or bikes to the time they take their seats.”

Thirty percent of the building’s outer façade is made up of glass, giving the fan a glimpse of the inside.  From the three main entrances of the building, the hanging scoreboard is visible through the entrance, lending to the excitement.  To fit in with the local tradition of Eugene, there is a large collection of hanging bike racks for fans to hang their bikes just outside the arena, with an underground parking garage available as well.

Walking through the main concourse of the structure, everything is simply a cut above.  From basic signs, vending carts, extensive interior white oak wood paneling, the whole feeling of the building exudes ‘extraordinary.’

“We wanted Matthew Knight Arena to embody the values of the University: innovation, creativity, and optimism,” stated Thompson.  The building is just that, being the first anticipated LEED Gold certified facility in the NCAA, a mark of how environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and ‘green’ it really is.


 

Knight Vision

The history of Ducks basketball is accurately captured along the perimeter of the concourse’s main level.  It’s captured with team photos of the 2002 and 2007 men’s teams who reached the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, women’s legendary player Bev Smith, the great volleyball teams of the school, and a special dedication to the 1939 ‘Tall Firs’ Oregon basketball team who won the first NCAA Basketball Tournament title.

All of it tells a story of the University of Oregon athletics and tradition on the hardwood.  So whether you are a UO alum or a diehard fan, it will give you chills to see the history recreated in front of you as walk to your seats.


 

Kilkenny Floor

Walking inside the actual bowl of the arena, all the anticipation and build up of expectations comes to a point of unparalleled excitement.  The enormous HD scoreboard is lit up with “Knight Vision” and you can see two interlocking Oregon ‘O’s between the four main screens of the display.

The actual basketball court itself is something special with an aura and energy that jumps out at you upon first sight.  Seeing the designs of the trees and being “Deep in the Woods” pays homage to the ‘Tall Firs’ and it pops out at the viewer with an ominous glow that may have never before seen from a basketball court.  It is named ‘Kilkenny Floor’ after prominent booster and former UO athletic director Pat Kilkenny.


 

TVA Rendering

Staying true to its Mac Court roots, all 12, 364 seats are on top of the action.  The acoustics will support the obnoxious amount of energy from the Oregon fan base.  There isn’t a single obstructed view in the building, with nearly every seat (with the exception of the student section) being padded and comfortable.  The actual interior of the arena is still very steep, much like Mac Court, in order to preserve the intimate feel of the building.  There are no suites in the arena, just seats.  For a comparison of how Matt Court is versus its predecessor, here is a link to differentiate the amenities.


 

Rendering of Night at Matt Court

The 405,000 square foot arena is the most expensive on-campus arena in the United States.  In addition, there are two full-size practice courts that adjoin the facility.  There is also the McArthur Club lounge on the main floor level, which is for VIPs and boosters.  It pays tribute to Mac Court with recreations of old floor designs and newspaper articles that highlight the history of the renowned building.  The ‘Matthew Knight’ name comes from Nike founder and foremost University donor Phil Knight, whose son Matthew died in a 2004 diving accident.

As a very recent graduate from the University of Oregon, my expectations were very high based on how much the entire cost of the facility was.  After getting a firsthand look of the arena and seeing everything up close, it has far exceeded those lofty expectations.  The entire building has a ‘legendary’ feel to it, a special place where the legacy of Oregon basketball will be played for years to come.  It will, and already has become, a major point of contention for Oregon recruiting and in the arms race for modern facilities.

Come January 13th at 7:30pm tip-off against USC, it will be, as usual, a great day to be a Duck!


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Pac-10:Top Prospects ’11 NBA Draft.

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1 Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA (Sophmore SF,  6’8”, 185 lb.s)- A versatile, ‘do it all’ player’ who knows how to get involved and leave an impact in a game without scoring.  Smart player with great passing and play making ability, but his hallmark is on defense.  Biggest knock is his unselfishness, but if he becomes more assertive and a consistent shot maker, Honeycutt could easily play his way into becoming a lottery pick this year.

Projected Draft Stock: Mid-1st Round

2 Derrick Williams, Arizona (Sophomore PF, 6’8”, 240 lb.s)-Physical banger in the paint who plays aggressive and with a great motor.  Williams is an athletic forward with good footwork and post moves, but limited by his size at 6’8”.  Although undersized for his natural position, he will be able to overcome it to contribute for an NBA team in the paint.  He’s teetering between draft rounds, but expect him to put up big numbers to contend for Conference Player of the Year and raise his stock in 2010-11.

Projected Draft Stock: Mid-Late 1st Round

3 Klay Thompson, Washington State (Junior SG/SF, 6’6”. 200 lb.s)- The best shooter and pure scorer in the conference.  He has a textbook shooting stroke and is deadeye from 3.  He has proven he can lead a team and be a primary scorer, but without elite athleticism, can he do it in the NBA?  Conventional wisdom says no, and he is likely a role player or ‘spark off the bench scorer,’ and a good one at that.  His stock is in questionable, but a solid Junior campaign should show NBA scouts his true worth.

Projected Draft Stock: Late 1st Round

4 Malcolm Lee, UCLA (Junior PG/SG, 6’4”, 195 lb.s)- Lee is a solid scoring point guard who excels at attacking off the dribble. He’s not a traditional backcourt leader, but he gets the job done on defense and with his playmaking.  An indefinite ‘shoot first’ point, but is limited by his perimeter shooting inconsistency.  He has a solid build and size for his position in NBA terms, but his athleticism isn’t outstanding.  I don’t buy him as a legit NBA starter, but could be effective as a back up in the NBA.

Projected Draft Stock: Mid-Late 1st Round


5 Josh Smith, UCLA (Freshman PF/C, 6’10”, 305 lb.s)- The hefty big man has yet to prove what he can do in college, but his size and skill set makes him a legit prospect.  Smith is a landmark in the paint who is physical and talented.  He rebounds, D’s up, has great hands and has solid touch around the basket.  Despite his talents, his perimeter shooting and fundamentals are abysmal.  He is a raw post player who hasn’t proven he has moves or post game to compete, but has the potential.  Conditioning is in question as well, but he may opt for another year instead of becoming a ‘One and Done.’

Projected Draft Stock: Late 1st-Early 2nd Round

6 Abdul Gaddy, Washington (Sophomore PG, 6’3”, 190 lb.s)- Before his college days, Gaddy was a supremely talented and highly touted prospect.  At UW, he disappeared as a freshman and was underutilized.  With his true point guard play and court vision, he is a legit floor general who will emerge in his 2nd season.  His dribbling ability and passing skills are superb.  However, shooting the ball was not his strength as a freshman, nor was using his left hand.  Good PG build and raw talent, but must raise his draft stock with on-court performance.  Love his upside and overall game, but don’t expect him to leave this year unless has an extraordinary season, in which case his stock should greatly rise.

Projected Draft Stock: 2nd Round

7 Isaiah Thomas, Washington (Junior SG, 5’8”, 185 lb.s)- Quintessential college star who dominates play with his shooting and scoring talents.  Maybe no better indicator of his potential NBA success than his predecessor at Washington, Nate Robinson.  Conversely, being very undersized and not a true point greatly inhibit his NBA stock.  Thomas is a nice shooter with explosive quickness and ball handling, but can become too enthralled with the 3-ball.  Another player unlikely to leave after this season, but in the case he does, some NBA team should be willing to take a chance on him to make a spark off the bench.

Projected Draft Stock: 2nd Round or Undrafted

1 Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA (Sophmore SF,  6’8”, 185 lb.s)- A versatile, ‘do it all’ player’ who knows how to get involved and leave an impact in a game without scoring.  Smart player with great passing and play making ability, but his hallmark is on defense.  Biggest knock is his unselfishness, but if he becomes more assertive and a consistent shot maker, Honeycutt could easily play his way into becoming a lottery pick this year.
Projected Draft Stock: Mid-1st Round

2 Derrick Williams, Arizona (Sophomore PF, 6’8”, 240 lb.s)-Physical banger in the paint who plays aggressive and with a great motor.  Williams is an athletic forward with good footwork and post moves, but limited by his size at 6’8”.  Although undersized for his natural position, he will be able to overcome it to contribute for an NBA team in the paint.  He’s teetering between draft rounds, but expect him to put up big numbers to contend for Conference Player of the Year and raise his stock in 2010-11.
Projected Draft Stock: Mid-Late 1st Round

3 Klay Thompson, Washington State (Junior SG/SF, 6’6”. 200 lb.s)- The best shooter and pure scorer in the conference.  He has a textbook shooting stroke and is deadeye from 3.  He has proven he can lead a team and be a primary scorer, but without elite athleticism, can he do it in the NBA?  Conventional wisdom says no, and he is likely a role player or ‘spark off the bench scorer,’ and a good one at that.  His stock is in questionable, but a solid Junior campaign should show NBA scouts his true worth.
Projected Draft Stock: Late 1st Round

4 Malcolm Lee, UCLA (Junior PG/SG, 6’4”, 195 lb.s)- Lee is a solid scoring point guard who excels at attacking off the dribble. He’s not a traditional backcourt leader, but he gets the job done on defense and with his playmaking.  An indefinite ‘shoot first’ point, but is limited by his perimeter shooting inconsistency.  He has a solid build and size for his position in NBA terms, but his athleticism isn’t outstanding.  I don’t buy him as a legit NBA starter, but could be effective as a back up in the NBA.
Projected Draft Stock: Mid-Late 1st Round

5 Josh Smith, UCLA (Freshman PF/C, 6’10”, 305 lb.s)- The hefty big man has yet to prove what he can do in college, but his size and skill set makes him a legit prospect.  Smith is a landmark in the paint who is physical and talented.  He rebounds, D’s up, has great hands and has solid touch around the basket.  Despite his talents, his perimeter shooting and fundamentals are abysmal.  He is a raw post player who hasn’t proven he has moves or post game to compete, but has the potential.  Conditioning is in question as well, but he may opt for another year instead of becoming a ‘One and Done.’
Projected Draft Stock: Late 1st-Early 2nd Round

6 Abdul Gaddy, Washington (Sophomore PG, 6’3”, 190 lb.s)- Before his college days, Gaddy was a supremely talented and highly touted prospect.  At UW, he disappeared as a freshman and was underutilized.  With his true point guard play and court vision, he is a legit floor general who will emerge in his 2nd season.  His dribbling ability and passing skills are superb.  However, shooting the ball was not his strength as a freshman, nor was using his left hand.  Good PG build and raw talent, but must raise his draft stock with on-court performance.  Love his upside and overall game, but don’t expect him to leave this year unless has an extraordinary season, in which case his stock should greatly rise.
Projected Draft Stock: 2nd Round

7 Isaiah Thomas, Washington (Junior SG, 5’8”, 185 lb.s)- Quintessential college star who dominates play with his shooting and scoring talents.  Maybe no better indicator of his potential NBA success than his predecessor at Washington, Nate Robinson.  Conversely, being very undersized and not a true point greatly inhibit his NBA stock.  Thomas is a nice shooter with explosive quickness and ball handling, but can become too enthralled with the 3-ball.  Another player unlikely to leave after this season, but in the case he does, some NBA team should be willing to take a chance on him to make a spark off the bench.
Projected Draft Stock: 2nd Round or Undrafted

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Jabari Brown Chooses Oregon.

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Talented guard Jabari Brown has made his selection-and its Oregon. He will help a depleted Ducks roster that has been plagued by a turbulent off season of transfers and ineligibility.  The 5-star prospect will help reload the ducks and give fans hope as they head into the $230 million Matt Court.  The Bay Area native will play his senior year of high school for Oakland High School.  This is the ducks 4th commitment from the 2011 prep class.

It has been said that Dana Altman has become a popular figure around AAU recruiting, and it appears his efforts are beginning to payoff.  Brown will be a protégé guard to help run the up-tempo Oregon offense.  He is a great shooter from distance and will be able to knock down a good number of 3’s for the ducks through out his career in Eugene.

Click here to view his scouting report and see how his skills should translate to the Pac-10.

Bjorn Zetterberg

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What A FIBA Title Means for Team USA.

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Finally, after 16 years of struggle and international troubles, Team USA is victorious in the FIBA World Basketball Championships. The US can finally stand proud, winning with a cast of predominantly ‘B-Team’ players.  Kevin Durant was named tournament MVP, averaging nearly 23 points and 6 rebounds per game.  For the first time since 1994, USA Basketball reigns supreme internationally as the defending champions in Olympic and FIBA tournament play.

The “B-Team” looked great

So what does it all mean?  Honestly, not a great deal. It’s nice to be back on top, but it’s not hard when the teams you face are missing their stars.  The tournament is second tier to the Olympics because most stars are resting between NBA seasons.  International NBA Players like Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol could change the complexion of games, but their absence left their respective teams struggling.  Most of these players will take part on the greater World stage in London 2012, which is where Team USA will find out again if they are for real.

Nonetheless, this is a nice win for Team USA because they showed they could play as a team without coveted NBA superstars.  Coach K couldn’t be a better selection to lead USA into competition because of his ability to unite and motivate his squad.  Krzyzewski great adjustments and emphasized the team play to their strengths exceptionally well all tournament.  Expect the firepower of Team USA to increase greatly when the NBA’s premier stars join in on the action in the coming years.

Who plays in 2012?

2008 was great

Here is whom I expect to fill out the London Olympics Roster in 2012:

Point Guards: Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose

Shooting Guards: Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry

Small Forwards: LeBron James, Kevin Durant

Power Forwards: Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony

Centers: Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire/Kevin Love

While purely speculation, expect all the big names from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to return.  Williams, Paul, Wade, Kobe, James, Dwight, Bosh, and Carmelo will fill out 8 spots on the roster and be the core of Team USA.  Kevin Durant should return and potentially start, depending on how the lineup is worked out.

Gold in 2012 is the ultimate goal

Of the point guards in the FIBA games in this year, Derrick Rose looked like the best International fit.  With a couple more years of development in the league, expect him to make it because of his toughness and ability to get to the basket.  Kevin Love would add another solid post presence and be an outstanding hustle player.  Although he fit well within Coach K’s system, another player like Amare Stoudemire might get the nod if he is allowed to play by the Knicks.   The team also needs a shooter, and looking at a list of 3 point specialists, Stephen Curry looks to be the best down the road.  He was impressive as an NBA rookie and will only get better over the next couple years with his International experience.

Team USA should be heavily favored going into the 2012 games.  With the greatest star power of any team in FIBA, the US will be a tough match due to their unmatched talent.  The only way to beat them will scheme and strategy.  Teams will have to change the game completely with defense, by milking the shot clock and getting the most of their possessions, or playing extreme run and gun by launching 3s early in the shot clock.  Greece was the last team to beat Team USA in 2006.  If everything plays out as predicted, then that should hold when the US hoists gold in London.”

-Bjorn Zetterberg

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Westhead Changes the Game.

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“Most coaches preach that playing with discipline, taking good shots, and playing good defense, you maximize your chances of winning.  It has been the foundation of sound fundamental basketball for over a century.  Get the most out of your possessions and if you play lockdown defense, you will go far. What if I were to tell you that if you did the exact opposite of that, you might be able to win?  It may not sound too far fetched now, but 25 years later, it would revolutionize the game.  A lot of credit goes to one man-‘The Guru of Go’ himself, Paul Westhead.

Westhead revolutionized the game of basketball with what he calls “The System.”  This game scheme is based on simple math:

More Possessions + More Shot Attempts = More Points

The fundamental idea of ‘The System’ is to create a vigorous pace that will catch the other team off guard and leave them gasping for air by the time the 4th quarter hits. Westhead’s variation seeks to put up a shot in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, with  3-point attempts encouraged.  Also known as ‘controlled chaos,’ the fast pace changes the game altogether, hopefully taking the other team out of their element.  It may look to some more like a track meet more than a basketball game because of the amount of running involved.  Along with the scoring frenzy, a full court press is employed throughout the entire game to create turnovers and convert those into points off fast breaks.  Overall, defense often gets sacrificed in favor of maintaining the pace, ideally leaving the team creating the tempo with more points.  With the right players in ‘The System’, wins can be counted up and records can be broken.  No other coach in the history of basketball has proven this better than Westhead.

Starting out as head coach of the La Salle Explorers from 1970-79, Westhead led the team to a pair of NCAA births before becoming an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers.  Upon arrival, Westhead took the helm of a talented Laker team 14 games into the season after then head coach Jack McKinney went down in a injurious bike accident.  The Lakers starred NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a 6’9” rookie point guard by the name of Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson.  During the 1980 season, the Lakers won 60 games and made it to the NBA Finals.  Against Dr. J and Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers took a 3-2 series lead, but lost star center Abdul-Jabbar to an ankle injury, leaving him unable to play in a critical Game 6.  It was then that Westhead dared to start Johnson at center, and was it ever a gamble that paid off.  In Game 6, point guard ‘Magic’ Johnson compiled 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists in a win from the center position, seemingly playing every position on the floor throughout the game.  The Lakers won the 1980 NBA Title, thanks to Westhead’s vision and Johnson’s ‘Finals MVP’ performance.

Shortly after the beginning of his 3rd season, Westhead was forced out as head coach after a slow start.  Johnson complained that Westhead’s offense was too predictable and slowed down the Lakers.  As you will read later, this is a statement that’s hard to believe in retrospect.  In the ’82 season, Westhead coached a year for the Chicago Bulls without nearly the same level of success, finishing 28-54 a couple years before the Michael Jordan era.  Perhaps a blessing in disguise, he was offered the head coaching position for the Loyola Marymount Lions a few years later.

Kimble & Gathers

While at the West Coast Conference small school, he began to put ‘The System’ into effect.  The Lions started off slow in his first couple seasons, but then immaculately given a gift that changed the college landscape.  Transfers Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble were both touted players who were unhappy with the USC program and looking for a new start with a different college. Westhead talked them into coming to Loyola, and it started a basketball revolution that made the fast paced system what it is today.  With Kimble and Gathers, Loyola Marymount went 27-3 and 20-10 in their sophomore and junior season.  In 1988, they advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament and in ’89 were a first round exit.  In Kimble and Gather’s 1990 senior season, there was a lot of hype surrounding the team.  The Loyola Marymount Lions set the all-time NCAA record for points per game with an average of 122.4 per contest.  They set the NCAA Tournament single game scoring record with 149 points in a win against Michigan.  They are among the all-time top 5 scoring games in NCAA history, with numbers like 157, 152, 150, 149 and 145 point games. In the record books, their name is riddled with entries for most assists, 3 point field goal attempts and makes, and points scored in games.

With all the hype in college basketball, the team looked like a serious contender to win an NCAA title. That 1990 season, Bo Kimble led the NCAA in scoring with 35 points per game and Gathers was putting up nearly 33 points and 14 rebounds. Both Kimble and Gathers were looking like top notch NBA prospects and running the WCC.  In a 1989 December home game, Gathers collapsed on court and was diagnosed with an abnormal heartbeat shortly after.  He was allowed to continue playing but was prescribed medication to counteract the effects.  However, he complained that the drugs made him feel slow on the court and drastically impacted his performance.  He limited the dosage on the medication in favor of playing at a higher level. In a WCC Tournament quarter final game against the Portland Pilots, Gathers collapsed again. He was immediately transported to the local hospital and pronounced ‘dead on arrival.’ It was one of the saddest and darkest moments in college basketball.

1990 NCAA Tournament

The 1990 WCC was called off and LMU was given the automatic bid because of their regular season title.  As the 11 seed in the tournament, they made an inspiring run to the Elite Eight, knocking off returning champion Michigan in the 2nd round and losing to the eventual champions in UNLV. The most magical moment of the tournament was when Bo Kimble shot and made his free throws left handed, in honor of Gathers. Gathers was a notoriously bad free throw shooter who was right handed, but tried shooting lefty throughout his career to improve his percentages.  After that inspired run through the tournament, there was fallout and controversy surrounding the death of Gathers, and Westhead left LMU for the NBA.

Now the coach of the Denver Nuggets, Westhead looked to shake up the league with ‘Paul Ball’ and hopefully have similar success to what happened at LMU.  The Nuggets led the NBA in scoring with 120 points per game in 1990-91.  Unfortunately, they also gave up an NBA record that season of 130 points per contest.  They also gave up an NBA record 107 points in a half, earning the nickname ‘Enver Nuggets’ because of their lack of ‘D’. Compiling a final record of 44-120, Westhead was released from his coaching duties.

‘The System’ is a basketball extreme that does not work in the professional ranks, similar to how the ‘the spread offense’ and ‘option’ being effective in college football don’t work in the NFL.  NBA players are too athletic, conditioned, and talented to be full court pressed and outpaced for a full 48 minutes, making you pay on the offensive end for your lack of defense.  Don Nelson is one of the winningest coaches in NBA history, using small ball (Nellie ball) as a scheme to get regular season wins, but has never worked out in the playoffs.  Nor has Nelson ever made it to the NBA finals as a head coach.  Current New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni runs a variation of run and gun offense, but don’t expect any titles from him anytime soon.  His best shot to win a title was in Phoenix, but the defensive inabilities of his Suns proved to be their biggest downfall in the playoffs.  The coach who may have found an answer to the run and gun in the NBA is D’Antoni’s replacement in Phoenix, Alvin Gentry.  He noted that if you play to the rhythm of the game, as opposed to the pace, then the team can not only still get more possessions, but more points out of the possessions on a regular basis.  Instead of putting up shots in under 7 seconds, you scale it back to about 12 seconds, and are still able to have success with more of a defensive emphasis.  It paid off, as the Suns made it to the Western Conference Finals in Gentry’s first full season, losing in a 6 game series that was decided by an outlandish Ron Artest play.

2007 WNBA Champions

Westhead tried to reestablish his presence in the college ranks during a 4-year stint with George Mason, but was largely unsuccessful at 38-70.  From there, he was an ABA coach for a season, head coach over in Japan’s pro league for a couple years, and an assistant for the Orlando Magic from 2003-05.  In 2005, he became head coach of the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, trying his luck with women’s basketball.  With stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter, the Mercury won the 2007 WNBA Title, making Westhead the only coach in history with an NBA and WNBA title to his name.  Along the way, he set the WNBA record for team scoring in a season, along with the 2nd highest point game in history (112).  However, in ’07 he resigned his post to return to the NBA as an assistant for PJ Carlisimo with the Sonics/Thunder for a couple of seasons.  In 2009, he became head coach of the University of Oregon Women’s team.

In his first season with the Ducks, he has already broken the school record for points scored in a season, in addition to most 3 pointers made by a team in Pac-10 history.  Guard Taylor Lilley lead the NCAA in 3 pointers made with 124, which broke the Pac-10 record for 3’s in a season.  The Ducks also lead the Pac-10 in scoring, but were amongst the league lead in points given up per game.  They play an exciting brand of basketball that has energized the Oregon fan base.  Some even called for Westhead to be considered as a replacement for the men’s head coach during Oregon’s recent search.

To this day, the influence of the 71 year old Westhead and ‘The System’ is everywhere in basketball.  I credit him with spawning the latest trends of playing fast and increased emphasis on the 3.  North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, and numerous other NCAA programs run a brand of basketball influenced by ‘The System’.  Although not as extreme, there are numerous adaptations that can be seen through the ranks.  Of note, Division III program College of the Redlands runs a variation that has set numerous NCAA records.  They execute ‘The System’ to a tee by running the entire game, shooting 3’s early in the shot clock, and subbing in 5 at a time to keep their players on the floor fresh to maintain the tempo.  In 2005, Redlands upped the ante, averaging 132 points per game. The Redlands are littered throughout the Division III record books as well.


If you want to know more about Paul Westhead, I highly recommend the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary ‘The Guru of Go.’ Although before my time, he is someone that I have always admired in basketball.  Westhead dared to be different and unconventional.  He was truly before his time, changing the game and how it’s played. ‘The System’ is not played by every team to the same extreme of how he runs it, but Westhead is truly an innovator for inducing the style.  He demonstrated that if the right pieces are in place to run it, ‘The System’ can be truly unstoppable.  He has proven this at more than one level, winning titles in multiple ranks.  There are extreme highs and lows to ‘The System,’ but it’s an enjoyable roller coaster ride.

As an Oregon alum, I am excited perhaps just as much for Women’s basketball as I am for Men’s. If you haven’t seen them play yet, do yourself a favor and watch them at least once this season. I promise you, this is no plug for Oregon Women’s Basketball.  Not only will you enjoy the brand of basketball, but also get to do it seeing a living legend and coaching icon in his element – running ‘The System.’”

-Bjorn Zetterberg

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2010 Men’s NCAA Tournament.

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This year there were a lot of upsets compared to that of last year during the March Madness NCAA Men’s tournament. The difference in number of upsets is apparent in the final four, which is coming up this weekend (April 3rd, 2010).  Last year, all four #1 seeds made it to the final four, while this year only one of the #1 seeds made it to the final four (Duke).

I am curious as to who people have for continuing on through the final four and winning the 2010 national championship game.


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