Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene was often a place where the Oregon Ducks basketball team carried the crowd, but now it seems to be the other way around. The place is jumping this season.
Oregon’s current success on the court is nothing new. I’m not sure if many have noticed the success this program has had, so let me crunch some numbers for you: Since Dana Altman took over as the men’s basketball coach in 2010, the Ducks have won 175 games and lost only 67 (through Feb. 4). He has taken the Ducks to four straight NCAA national tournaments, resulting in two Sweet 16 spots and last year’s Elite Eight appearance, in which they lost, 80-68, to the Oklahoma Sooners who were led by player-of-the-year Buddy Hield.
Now, in Eugene and throughout the nation, the Ducks are being recognized for a certain player, by the name of Dillon Brooks. Brooks has brought lots of attention to the Ducks squad after hitting the game-winning shot vs. then-No. 2 UCLA just two months ago, and last weekend Oregon defeated then-No. 5 Arizona by an impressive 85-58 score. The nearly 30-point victory for the Ducks definitely turned some heads around the nation.
Brooks has led the way for Oregon this year, averaging 14.4 points, 3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. His numbers have dropped, though, as he averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists last year. That could be because of the fewer minutes he has been playing this year, however – he has been limited because of how many blowout wins the Ducks have had. He averaged 32.8 minutes last year, but has only averaged 22.5 minutes per game this year. Is it safe to say that if he played as many minutes as he did last year, he would have drastically better numbers? Would the Ducks win by even larger margins than they already are?
Brooks had his best game of the year on Jan. 30 against the USC Trojans when he put up absolutely outstanding numbers. He scored 28 points, shot 9 of 10 from the field, 6 of 6 from the free-throw line, and 4 of 4 on 3-pointers. So, 90 percent from the field, and 100 percent from both the 3-point and free-throw line. What is crazy is that he did all that while adding three rebounds, three assists and two steals, while playing only 24 minutes.
Brooks is definitely a playmaker and a big threat to any opponent who has to step on the floor with him, let alone the man guarding him all game long.
Matthew Knight Arena is becoming a place to reckon with and is starting to get recognition as one of the toughest places to play in the Pac-12. Just last year, Oregon saw its worst per-game attendance since 1992. Only an average of 6,209 fans strolled into the arena to watch a Ducks team that finished second in the Pac-12 and would go on to the Elite Eight – which is a great accomplishment.
There are many reasons why the attendance has struggled: Parking was a concern, ticket prices were higher than they are now and Oregon was still pretty much known as a football school.
All until the Ducks just had their worst football season in 10 years – so now I truly believe the basketball program is getting the recognition that it deserves.