They say Virginia is for lovers, that you shouldn’t mess with the state of Texas and, when you are in Wisconsin, you should always stay a little bit longer. In the world of college basketball, those mottos hold up pretty well, particularly during the month of March.
But this year, when the bracket deadline approaches and eager hoops fans are looking for that edge in their pool, watch out for the West Coast. Don’t say we didn’t warn you when the Oregon Ducks are picked to advance to the Final Four by your significant other and not just because of sophomore guard Casey Benson’s Pac-12-leading 4.88 assist-to-turnover ratio. Here are a few other reasons she will be throwing up the “O.”
Dillon Brooks’ swagger
Number 24’s got a lot of enemies and a lot of people trying to drain him of his energy. Not only is he the Pac-12’s most consistent player, tallying double digits in all but one conference game, but he leads his team in points (16.9 per game), field goal attempts (13.4), field goals made (6.5), assists (3.2) and minutes played (33.2). He does it all for his team, and the way he balls out has alleviated the pain of losing Joe Young. Expect him to continue to spread his swag around town like a killer swag virus.
— Max Hoops (@MaxHoops3) February 7, 2016
Chris Boucher’s accent
The senior JUCO transfer from Montreal doesn’t always say a whole lot. He often lets his game speak for him instead. But when he is asked questions in post-game press conferences, it’s hard not to find his French-Canadian accent endearing, his smile infectious and his work ethic admirable. He has made an instant impact for the Ducks, averaging 12.7, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game. Boucher leads the Ducks in rebounds and leads the Pac-12 in blocked shots.
Oh, nothing. Just a couple Chris Boucher blocks on one possession. https://t.co/bXXpjdhrqk
— Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) December 1, 2015
Dwayne Benjamin’s court appeal
The 6-foot-7 senior from Louisiana has the moves like Jagger and Jackson combined.
— Oregon Basketball (@OregonMBB) February 5, 2016
He is averaging 8.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game for Oregon, and he leads the Ducks with 4.1 three-point field goal attempts per game. But more than numbers, he provides an energy that his teammates feed off of — an infectious hype that pumps the Ducks up when they need it the most. If Brooks is the heart(throb) and Boucher is the mouthpiece, Benjamin is the soul. He will be someone head coach Dana Altman leans on heavily for experience and passion come tournament time.
Elgin Cook’s dunk game
When it comes to all things above the rim, Elgin Cook doesn’t play around — he throws it down. See what he did to UCLA?
He is vicious when driving to the hoop, making him difficult to defend and giving the Ducks a speedy advantage. The 6-foot-8 senior forward averages 13.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He leads the team in free throw attempts (4.8 per game), free throws made (3.6) and steals (1.5). Beware when he’s let loose on the big stage in March.
Because they are the Ducks. Duh!
No self-respecting fan of cuteness has turned down an opportunity to watch a YouTube video of baby ducklings. Ever. And the Oregon mascot is one of the more adorable mascots out here. Puddles’ hilarious hijinks always entertain and delight. Who can resist a fuzzy duck with a “Free Hugs” sign?
— The Oregon Duck (@TheOregonDuck) June 5, 2015
Or this firelight fantasy scenario.
— The Oregon Duck (@TheOregonDuck) April 14, 2015
Don’t be surprised if your significant other starts snap chatting in green and yellow and tuning in to the Pac-12 networks on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Sports writer. Avid fan, former player, once-upon-a-time coach, reluctant referee. I do digital media things with my friends. I also jinx kickers. Bay Area born & raised.