Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 12/26/12
Flying High The attention given to the University of Oregon is usually centered around its high -powered football program that has risen to new heights in recent years. And, though the Oregon Ducks will be making their fourth straight appearance in a BCS Bowl when they take on the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl, the Oregon Men’s Basketball team is starting to gain recognition of its own. After starting the season 10-2 and ranked just outside the Top-25, the Ducks find themselves in a position they have not been in for the past few seasons. Head Coach Dana Altman has changed the way people perceive a program that was, at least for the past few years, one of the more mediocre programs in the Pac-10/12. With just one game left until Pac-12 play officially begins with a contest against bitter-rival Oregon State, the Ducks must look back on the first portion of their season in order to truly evolve into a team that can find itself towards the top of the conference come seasons end. Let’s take a look back at what the Ducks have accomplished so far. Wins and Losses The best win for the Ducks undoubtedly came against UNLV when Oregon took to the road and upended the No. 18 team in the nation on their home court, a court that had proved extremely resilient for other visiting teams. While they did just come away with a four point victory, to do so on the road against a very good team at home was more than impressive and helped to solidify the Ducks as an actual contender in college basketball this season (at least when talking about positioning for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Dominic Artis has looked very impressive early on in his career. (Photo: Chris Pietsch/Registerguard.com)   The toughest loss for Oregon came recently against UTEP. After struggling all game to really get anything going the Ducks bounced back towards the end of regulation and forced overtime. And, after three grueling OT periods that saw Oregon claw their way back into the game, the Ducks ultimately fell to a rather mediocre Miner’s team on the road. The loss snapped Oregon’s impressive defensive streak while bringing their team down from the clouds they were floating on. Key Players The successful start to Oregon’s season has been fueled by both newcomers and returners, the most significant of which are E.J. Singler, Damyean Dotson, Arsalan Kazemi, Tony Woods, and Dominic Artis. These players, combined with those that play on a more rotational basis, have helped the Ducks become one of the more dangerous teams in the Pac-12, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Key Newcomers Though it is surely tempting to name Dotson or Artis as the best new addition to the Oregon basketball program, Arsalan Kazemi has taken the Ducks to a completely different level; after all, both Artis and Dotson should still have a few more years left to earn their fair share of awards. Kazemi has been an absolute monster on the court for Oregon. This big man from Rice is averaging 10.4 rebounds per game while putting up 9.2 points per game. The addition of Kazemi has given the Ducks a much stronger inside presence while allowing other players to move the ball more efficiently as well. Without him, there is no doubt that the Ducks would not be where they are right now. Conference Outlook While the Pac-10/12 has been known for impressive basketball programs, the conference has had a few down years as of late. Fortunately for an Oregon team looking to make a statement for the future the Pac-12 Conference this season is still relatively weak. In fact, the only program ranked in the Top-25 is Arizona, a team the Ducks will face just one time this year when they play host to the Wildcats on January 10th. Other than Arizona, however, all of the other Pac-12 teams look beatable. If Oregon can continue their impressive play from early on this season, the sky may just be the limit for these young adults in the Pac-12. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE DUCKS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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