Wisconsin does it again

The Badgers end Oregon's season for the second straight year
March 22, 2015 / Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. - The Oregon Ducks played thir way almost into the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. But, as happened last season, a solid performance came up short against the same opponent: Wisconsin.

A year after pestering the Badgers throughout the second half only to come up eight points short, Oregon rallied from a double-digit first-half deficit and had a chance to take the lead in the second half.

But, it didn’t happen, and top-seeded Wisconsin escaped with a 72-65 victory in the NCAA tournament’s round of 32 at CenturyLink Center on Sunday night.

Wisconsin had its worst shooting game in a month and got outrebounded by the smaller Ducks, and Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky was quiet offensively for long stretches.

The Badgers (33-3) were able to get out to a quick lead and hold on, and now they’re headed to the regional semifinals for the fourth time in five years. They’ll play No. 4 North Carolina on Thursday in Los Angeles.

“We’re definitely excited and thrilled to be there, but we’re not as in awe or shocked as we were last year,” Nigel Hayes said. “Last year, we were jumping around up and down on the court, celebrating. This time, it was ‘Hoo-rah, good job guys. We have the next game to take care of.’”

Sam Dekker scored 17 points, hitting a couple big baskets after Oregon (26-10) had tied it late. Kaminsky had 16 points, with no shot bigger than his putback of Hayes’ missed free throw to make it a 10-point game with 44 seconds left.

Hayes had 14 points and Bronson Koenig added 12.

Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young, who scored 27 points in a win over Oklahoma State on Friday, had 30 against the Badgers.

“We had ourselves in a position against an experienced, well-coached and very good team,” Ducks coach Dana Altman said. “I’m sorry we couldn’t get it finished off for these guys so we could keep playing.”

Wisconsin played with the lead all game until Dwayne Benjamin tied it at 52 with a high-arcing 3-pointer from in front of his bench with 5:27 left. The Badgers took the lead right back, though, with Dekker’s reverse layup and 3-pointer to make it 58-52.

“Oregon made their run to fight back,” Dekker said, “just as a good team always does. And good teams respond to those runs. We settled in, and guys weren’t going to get too riled up. We got a big 6-0 run there and opened up the lead and held on from there. It’s a game of runs, and you’ve got to respond at the right time.”

Jalil Abdul-Bassit had 12 points for the Ducks, who were trying to get to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years.

The size advantage that Wisconsin was supposed to enjoy against Oregon wasn’t much of an advantage at all. Oregon outrebounded the Badgers 34-32, outscored them 30-24 in the lane and had four blocks to Wisconsin’s three.

“At this point,” guard Josh Gasser said, “I don’t care if we play like crap and still win. We did some good things, we did some bad things.”

Credit Oregon for causing Wisconsin to shoot just 43 percent from the field and go 7-for-23 on 3-pointers.

“I knew they were going to throw a lot of different things at us -- double-teams, triple-teams, pressure up and down the court,” Kaminsky said. “When that happens, there’s bound to be a lot of missed shots.”

Oregon, which shot 55 percent against Oklahoma State on Friday, shot 44.1 percent and needed some time to get its offense going. Young had a couple shots rim out and missed his first five, and Elgin Cook couldn’t finish what should have been an easy dunk off a Young lob.


Portland throws a party

The soccer world takes in the Rose City, and more on this episode
August 6, 2014

Portland showed off big-time Wednesday night, with the world of soccer playing attention to Soccer City, USA. And, the Major League Soccer All-Stars did their part to represent the nation's league with a 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich at Providence Park.

The joy in Portland and some thoughts on the soccer community were key elements of the 14th episode of Sportsland, Oregon, recorded this week from the Pit Stop in Southwest Portland.

Cast members Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber, moved to the record crowd at Sunday's NWSL game, then to how soccer challenges basketball and the Trail Blazers for the top sport in the city.

The NFL, Major League Baseball, Ducks and Beavers and even Roofball talk takes up the rest of the podcast.


Who do you root for?

Is there a Final Four underdog? And, can LMA lead Portland to a series win?
March 31, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

How can anyone root for Kentucky as an underdog in the NCAA Tournament? Well, they are, according to their seeding in this year's tournament at No. 8. Connecticut, a regular national champion, is seeded No. 7, but reached the Final Four along with UK.

So, who's an underdog this year?

That's a key topic for the Sportsland, Oregon crew during this week's episode, recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.

With Wisconsin reaching the Final Four, the cast of Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber discuss the frustration of Oregon's second-half collapse against the Badgers in the third round. How far away are the Ducks from a regular trip to the Elite Eight and Final Four?

Then, it's off to the Blazers and the danger they faced just last week of seemingly being on a path to ninth place in the Western Conference. Once LaMarcus Aldridge returned from an injury, the team settled down and won three straight to reclaim their position as a potential No. 4 seed.

Portland Timbers, Portland Winterhawks and Roofball all claim some portion of discussion of the show.


Does Oregon have the NCAA stuff?

The Ducks are seeded five spots ahead of last year. A good thing?
March 17, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

It's one of the great weekends of the calendar year - the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. And, it's this week.

And, like last year, the Oregon Ducks are a team of mystery in that they have the potential for ... greatness.


Oregon enters as a No. 7 seed having been ranked as high as No. 10 in the early part of the season, and - after a mid-season slump - winning seven of their last eight games. They have a win over a No. 1 seed, and a combination of players who seem capable of making a statement.

The Ducks are a key topic of Episode 6 of Sportsland, Oregon 2014. Host Cliff Pfenning and long-time cast member Derek Weber talk up their picks for the tournament and the interesting teams as the big week draws near.

The show also delves into the Blazers' season and who they're likely to play in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, and the Portland Thunder, which played its first game earlier in the evening.

It's all recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.


Aliotti hits Oregon fans with a bomb

Long-time defensive coordinator announces he'll retire after Alamo Bowl
Dec. 27, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — In order to accommodate a weight workout beforehand, the Oregon football team arrived Friday at Alamo Heights High nearly two hours before the formal start to practice for Monday's Alamo Bowl.

Knowing what the next few hours would hold — Nick Aliotti intended to tell the Ducks he was retiring after the bowl game — the longtime UO defensive coordinator couldn't sit still. Thus, he was the first coach to hit the practice field, some 90 minutes early, proceeding to walk laps for about the next half hour.

By early afternoon, Aliotti was also the last coach off the practice field, lingering a last few moments with two fellow natives of Pittsburg, Calif., defensive backs Avery Patterson and Erick Dargan. Aliotti had told the entire team minutes earlier that the Alamo Bowl would be his final game as a coach.

"There's never a great time or a right time to say this," Aliotti told the team. "I'm going to retire at the end of the season.

"I'm not resigning; I'm not going somewhere else. I'm a Duck."

Thus will end Monday one of the longest coaching tenures in Oregon's history. Aliotti will have spent 24 seasons on the UO staff, tied with Joe Schaffeld (1974-97) for the fourth-longest stay with the Ducks, behind current running backs coach Gary Campbell (31 years), offensive line coach Steve Greatwood (27 years) and Neal Zoumboukos (1980-2006).

Aliotti's departure was confirmed by the university minutes after his brief announcement to the players after practice Friday.

"I'm surprised he didn't cry," said Patterson, a senior starting safety. "I know it's one of the toughest decisions he's ever had to make. But you've got to walk away someday. At some point, he was going to leave somebody behind that he loves."

That nearly happened a year ago, Aliotti said later Friday at a press conference to preview Monday's Alamo Bowl against Texas (3:45 p.m. PT, ESPN). The coach tried to keep the focus on his players and the game, but he also addressed his retirement and said he initially intended to do so following the Fiesta Bowl in January.

Aliotti kept a piece of turf from that game, thinking it would be his last, and still carries it in his briefcase. But after Chip Kelly left the program and Mark Helfrich took over, Aliotti opted to return for one more year, to keep the Ducks' recruiting class intact and help Helfrich's transition.

"I believe in and love Oregon," Aliotti said. "I wanted to go a good job by Mark. I wanted to do a good job by these kids. …

"The beauty of this right now is that I'm getting to retire because I want to retire. Not many assistants get to go out on their own terms."

Aliotti can retire knowing his defenses were key to many of the greatest seasons in recent UO history. The famed "Gang Green" unit allowed just 19.2 points per game and helped Oregon reach the Rose Bowl after the 1994 season. That was the last time the Ducks kept opponents under 20 points per game until 2010, when they allowed 18.7 as Oregon reached the BCS championship game.

Aliotti acknowledged Friday it might have been nice to take on a head coaching job at some point, and he leaves after a rocky finish to the 2013 regular season in which the Ducks allowed Stanford and Arizona to control games with the run. But Oregon also enters the Alamo Bowl having allowed 4.69 yards per play this season, fewest in the Pac-12.

Can a rivalry help Portland to the NBA Finals?

Sure the Blazers can win - a lot - but can they attract a TV audience
Dec. 16, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

It seems like just a week ago that fans of the Portland Trail Blazers were being polled on whether the team could win 60 games this season.

Now, the poll is up to a 70-game level, as in "can the Blazers win 70 games?"

Even if they do, will the pro basketball community care? Imagine the potential match-ups for Portland in the NBA Finals. Miami? Indiana? Carmelo Anthony after being traded to the Pacers? How will that roll with the NBA in terms of television viewers?

Portland might win a lot, but what's winning without star power? And, Portland lacks star power, even with two potential All-Stars.

That's where the Oklahoma City Thunder comes in, and it's a key topic for the cast of Sportsland, Oregon, during its 27th episode of the year.

Can the NBA build enough of a rivalry between Portland and Oklahoma City, which was a heavy franchise rival when the team played in Seattle as the Sonics. How much value to TV networks would a Portland-OKC rivaly make?

The cast also talks up the woes of the Dallas Cowboys and strength of pro football in terms of people wanting to pay to see a game.

It's all recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.


Playoff pressure starts to build for Blazers

Sure they can win, but what about the playoffs? And, it's bowl time
Dec. 9, 2013

After wins over Indiana and Oklahoma City in the same week, the Portland Trail Blazers moved up to No. 1 in the weekly Power Rankings produced by Sports Illustrated.

In the Western Conference, though, they're No. 2 - that's the sentiment of the cast of Sportsland, Oregon, from Episode 26 recorded Monday night at Blitz Pearl.

Portland has wins over the Pacers, Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, and have started the season at 18-4, which has them headed for a high playoff seed. But, the playoffs are a different animal and the Blazers haven't been tested there in two seasons. San Antonio, which reached the NBA Finals last season and is 15-4, got the nod in the West Monday, with Portland at No. 2.

Other topics included the Oregon and Oregon State bowl games, the Oregon snow fight scandal and late-game scoring in the NFL, all during the weekly show, which is headed for its fourth season.


Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 - Records through Sunday.

1. San Antonio (15-4)

2. Portland Trail Blazers (17-4)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (15-4)

4. Houston Rockets (15-7)

5. Los Angeles Clippers (13-8)

6. Dallas Mavericks (13-8)

7. Denver Nuggets (12-8)

8. Golden State Warriors (13-9)

9. Phoenix Suns (11-9)

10. Memphis Grizzlies (9-10)

11. Los Angeles Lakers (10-10)

12. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-11)

13. New Orleans Pelicans (9-10)

14. Sacramento Kings (4-11)

15. Utah Jazz (4-18)



Those Timbers stay hot news

Portland's rivalry with Seattle is a must-see for the MLS Playoffs
Oct. 14, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

The Timbers Army had to hand the Cascadia Cup to another team Sunday night, but at least they didn't hand it to fans of the Seattle Sounders.

That's the level of rivalry between the Timbers and Sounders.

After Sunday's 1-0 victory over Seattle, not only had Portland beaten its longtime rival, the win put the Timbers into first place in the MLS Western Conference, and in position to win the Supporters Shield for the best record in the league.

Talk of the Timbers is just part of the 23rd episode of Sportsland, Oregon, recorded Monday night at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.

The Ducks and Beavers were a significant part of the show as always, and this week included a point spread for the Civil War set for Nov. 29. Oregon's Marcus Mariota stayed on pace to win the Heisman Trophy with the Ducks beating Washington handily Saturday, while the Beavers kept their role as possible title game spoiler with a win over Washington State Saturday.

Cast members also worked on their picks for the World Series, which needs to include the Los Angeles Dodgers. A little history reveals the Dodgers haven't played the Boston Red Sox in the Series since 1916, and have never played the Tigers for the Series championship.

Some Blazers talk, some Winterhawks talk, a little chatting about Portland's new Arena Football League team, and Tim Tebow found his way back into the line-up, this time with how valuable he might be to Jacksonville keeping its hold on an NFL team.

It's all part of this week's episode:

Cast: Cliff Pfenning, Derek Weber, Marlon Thomas.



College football is the answer

Tue, 10/15/2013 - 8:42am
Cliff Pfenning
Cliff Pfenning's picture
Last seen: 7 hours 20 min ago
Joined: 2010-07-01

So, if you were like me, you learned a lot about the federal government at 9 p.m. Monday night, Pacific time. That's when the federal government shut down.

My reaction was simple - what's that actually mean?

Will traffic lights still work? They will because they're managed by local governments.

Will schools still open their doors? Yes - local governments.

Will cable still operate? Yes - it's a private business.

The mail? Yes, still there because it's a business, too.

So, what's gonna happen to me?

Will I get a break from photo radar? No way.

Well, that's when the scrolling info on the bottom of my television informed me of the big ticket items:

National parks will be closed. That sucks, but it doesn't affect my daily life.

NASA will shut down. Again, bad news, but we already lost the Space Shuttle and our little guy on Mars doesn't need daily updates, so not a big issue.

Federal employees, many of whom manage the tax system, won't get paid.

And, retirement checks won't get mailed out - there's a big item for older citizens, which I'm not.

I'm basically not affected, other than to wonder if I still have to pay taxes for a government that's not officially working.

Of course I do, because Congress is still getting paid.

And, the military is still operating on foreign soil.

What really happened Monday night is the U.S. just looked stupid to the rest of the world. That's nothing against older Americans and people who operate the government - some of whom I know, but most of America isn't directly affected by the federal government.

Our Congress doesn't even care enough about the nation to pass a budget - a long-term budget, too - to keep itself operating.


Even the nations that have filed for bankruptcy have to be looking over to North America with distain.

That's when it hit me it's time for college football to step up and make the federal budget really important, because what's bad for America is bad for college football.

Yes, college football is the answer to the federal government. And, head coaches are in charge of their programs, so they should step up and make a statement for Americans.

Here's a challenge to the college football coaches of America to step aside on Saturday, or Thursday in the case of Texas, Iowa State, UCLA, Utah, Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Monroe.

Just don't coach, something that will challenge team captains and every player on the roster. Assistants should still work, although they should donate their pay to a non-profit, but the head coach, then every player, should just agree to stop.

How fast would Congress work to pass a budget? Tuesday night might happen, or Wednesday ... Thursday morning at the latest. Texas is playing, and Iowa State wants its chance to hammer the Longhorns just like BYU.

It's not just football, by the way, but college football, which is the most important part of virtually every state in the union. That's why college football head coaches are the highest paid public employee in every state but Alaska.

Pro football is a business, which is why it can shut down and the U.S. still goes about its business. Same thing with Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL. They can all cancel an entire season and still not affect daily life. But, not college football.

Hotels will suffer. Gas stations will suffer. Beer sales will suffer.

If college football were to stop, even for one week, every member of Congress would get voted out of office, even the people who will eventually be on the winning side because there isn't a winning side when the government stops paying itself and looks stupid to the world. Citizens might even hold Congress captive on Capitol Hill, letting members leave only when they agree to have "I stopped college football" tattoed on their foreheads.

College football head coaches are the real source of power in America, and this is their opportunity to showcase that fact on behalf of every American.

Again, here's the challenge to college football head coaches, make that statement for America:

"Congress, get back to work and pass a budget, or there will be pain. Real pain."

Helfrich tames first run through signing

Tyner and two other Oregonians sign with Oregon's new coach
Feb. 6, 2013

National Signing Day 2013 went off without a hitch for new University of Oregon football coach Mark Helfrich Wednesday as he got official written commitments from 19 incoming players, including 18 freshmen.

Helfrich, taking over for coach Chip Kelly, who moved to the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles last month, signed five offensive linemen, including Evan Voeller of West Linn and Doug Brenner of Jesuit, whose sister is a member of the Ducks' volleyball and women's basketball squads.

The Ducks also signed Aloha running back Thomas Tyner, one of the top recruits in the nation.

Oregon State signed 24 players, including five from junior colleges, and was rated the No. 9 recruiting class in the Pac-12 by Sports Illustrated.

Within the Pac-12, UCLA (No. 8), Southern Cal (No. 12), and Washington (No. 14) were all ranked in the top 14 by MaxPreps.

Portland State signed 21 players, including nine from Oregon. Hayden Plinke, a sophomore from Glencoe, played at Boise State last year and is one of five transfer students.

Here are the Oregon signings:

Joe Walker, LB, 6-2, 225, So., Palos Verdes, CA (LA Harbor College/Palos Verdes HS)

Devon Allen, WR, 6-0, 187, Phoenix, AZ (Brophy Prep)
Kani Benoit, RB, 6-0, 200, Phoenix, AZ (Phoenix Thunderbird HS)
Doug Brenner, OL, 6-2, 279, Portland, OR (Jesuit HS)
Darren Carrington, WR, 6-2, 186, San Diego, CA (Horizon HS)
Elijah George, OL, 6-5, 250, Las Vegas, NV (Arbor View HS)
Damion Hobbs, QB, 6-2, 195, Cedar Hill, TX (Cedar Hill HS)
Cameron Hunt, OL, 6-4, 265, Corona, CA (Centennial HS)
Danny Mattingly, LB, 6-5, 222, Spokane, WA (Mead HS)
John Mundt, TE, 6-4, 232, Modesto, CA (Central Catholic HS)
Jake Pisarcik, OL, 6-2, 290, Medford, NJ (Shawnee HS)
Torrodney Prevot, LB, 6-3, 214, Houston, TX (Alief Taylor HS)
Tyree Robinson, ATH, 6-4, 200, San Diego, CA (Lincoln HS)
Tyrell Robinson, ATH, 6-4, 201, San Diego, CA (Lincoln HS)
Chris Seisay, DB, 6-1, 177, American Canyon, CA (American Canyon HS)
Thomas Tyner, RB, 5-11, 201, Aloha, OR (Aloha HS)
Evan Voeller, OL, 6-5, 278, West Linn, OR (West Linn HS)
Juwaan Williams, ATH, 6-0, 181, Tucker, GA (Tucker HS)
Matt Wogan, PK/P, 6-2, 197, Indian Trail, NC (Porter Ridge HS)

Here are the OSU signings:


Brandon Arnold              S          6-0       183      Winnetka, Calif. (Crespi)

Victor Bolden                 WR       5-9       165      Etiwanda, Calif. (Los Osos)

Titus Failauga                DE        6-4       240      Waipahu, Hawai’i (Pac-Five)

Michael Greer                LB        6-2       193      Palm Springs, Calif. (Palm Springs)

Sean Harlow                  OL        6-5       275      San Clemente, Calif. (San Clemente)

Damien Haskins             RB        5-9       213      New Boston, Texas (New Boston)

Manase Hungalu            LB        6-2       225      Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i (Kealakehe)

Dashon Hunt                  CB       5-10     175      Westlake, Calif. (Westlake)

Hunter Jarmon                WR       6-0       190      Waco, Texas (Midway)

Walter Jones                  WR       6-1       173      Redlands, Calif. (Redlands)

Kyle Kempt                    QB       6-5       200      Massillon, Ohio (Washington)

Fred Lauina                   OL/DL   6-3       270      Pago Pago, America Samoa (Tafuna)

Corey Lawrence             ATH      6-1       175      Del City, Okla. (Del City)

Lawrence Mattison         RB        6-1       225      Spring Branch, Texas (Smithson Valley)

Charles Okonkwo           CB       6-1       180      Fontana, Calif. (Summit)

Terin Solomon                LB        6-2       195      Murrieta, Calif. (Murrieta Valley)

Darrell Songy                 LB        6-1       220      Austin, Texas (John B. Connolly)

Justin Strong                  S          5-11     189      Rialto, Calif. (Summit)

Jordan Villamin               WR       6-5       205      Fontana, Calif. (Etiwanda)


Player                           Pos       HT        WT       Hometown (High School/JC)

Edwin Delva                   DT        6-3       290      Miami, Fla. (North Miami Beach HS/Antelope Valley)

Siale Hautau                  DT        6-0       315      Ephraim, Utah (Skyline/Snow)

Steven Nelson               CB       6-0       185      Warner Robins, Ga. (Northside/College of Sequoias)

Kyle Peko                      DT        6-2       295      La Habra, Calif. (La Habra/Cerritos CC)

Lyndon Tulimasealii        DE        6-4       270      Anchorage, Alaska (W. Anchorage/College of the Desert)


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