Last season the Oregon Ducks earned their first outright
conference title since 1939, completed their first undefeated
home season (16-0) since 1938, won their first NCAA tournament
game since 1960, got to the Elite Eight and set nine school
offensive records. How do you follow a banner campaign like that?
With a billboard campaign, naturally. This season various Ducks
will be gracing billboards in Los Angeles, New York City and the
Bay Area. For instance, the likeness of junior point guard Luke
Ridnour will be looming from the side of Manhattan's W Hotel on
47th and Broadway. Says Ridnour, "It'd be a lot easier if it were
the whole team up there, but I guess I'll have to deal with the
pressure that comes with this."
That's coach Ernie Kent's plan. The billboards, says Kent, "give
our best players a sense of urgency, a sense that, Oh, I have to
live up to this hype now."
Accordingly, Ridnour and fellow junior, All-America candidate and
reluctant poster boy Luke Jackson (appearing in L.A. and the Bay
Area) have emerged from a summer spent in the weight room and on
the camp-counseling circuit with far more muscle on their frames
and much greater confidence in their shooting and defense. The
Lukes will be supported by a faster and, most likely, more
productive front line than the one anchored by graduated 7'2"
post Chris Christofferson. Brian Helquist, a 6'9" center who lost
20 pounds over the summer, 6'11" Aussie redshirt freshman Ian
Crosswhite and 6'8" senior forward Robert Johnson (billboard, Bay
Area) will help give the Ducks what Kent calls "the best core
group of big men we've had here at Oregon in a long, long time."
The Ducks will need every superlative. Aside from the usual
brutal Pac10 slate, Oregon will face Cincinnati, Minnesota,
Pepperdine and Kansas--the team that beat them 104-86 in last
season's Midwest Regional. "We were so close last year," says
Jackson. "I felt like we played good enough ball that we could
have gone all the way. But we didn't, and that just made me
hungry for this year." That's the kind of quote Kent might
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER POSTER CHILD A more muscular Jackson will loom large in L.A. and in the Ducks' offensive scheme.
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF Luke Jackson 6'7" Jr. 16.7 ppg
PF Robert Johnson 6'8" Sr. 7.5 rpg
C Brian Helquist 6'9" Sr. 2.6 rpg
SG James Davis 5'10" Jr. 6.0 ppg
PG Luke Ridnour 6'2" Jr. 5.0 apg
2001-02 RECORD: 26-9 (14-4, 1st in Pac10)
TOURNAMENT: Lost to Kansas in Elite Eight
Three-point field goals made by the Ducks last season, shattering
the Pac-10 record of 279, set by Arizona in the 1993-94
An opposing coach's view
Unless you're on your guard, you will get nuked by the Lukes
"Their transition game kills you with its execution as much as its
pace. Luke Ridnour sets up guys off screens on the wings, and he
works very well with Luke Jackson, who gets more dangerous every
year.... Ridnour has a flair for big plays. Your post player
needs to get back quickly to help the guard defending Ridnour....
Jackson isn't a great leaper, so he has a habit of driving the
lane and jumping into defenders to create fouls. The NCAA has
directed that calling players on that move should be a point of
emphasis this season, and Pac-10 officials usually take those
directives more seriously than other officials around the
country.... Make the Ducks beat you with their post players. All
Brian Helquist and Robert Johnson do is set screens, but they
understand that doing the dirty work is their job."