The Washington Huskies host the #7 Oregon Ducks today at Hec Ed in Seattle.
Here is how the Huskies can upset the Ducks.
1. Run and Score
The Huskies are averaging only 67.2 points per game (ppg) — a downward trend from earlier in the season when they were averaging as much as 82 ppg.
Meanwhile, Oregon Ducks’ opponents are averaging 51.6 ppg, which is the 11th best defensive average in the nation.
For the season, the Huskies are shooting — an encouraging– 65.8% in their transition offense, including 43.5% from three and 75% from two-point range.
However, against their three PAC-12 opponents the Huskies are 61.1% shooting in their transition offense, including 11.1% from three-point range and 77.8% from two-point range.
Clearly, the Huskies are struggling from three-point range in their fastbreak offense against PAC-12 defenses.
Meanwhile, Oregon’s transition defense is holding opponents to an average of 0.478 points per possession (ppp) — the Top 1% of all Division One teams — and holding opponents to only 8.3% from three-point range in transition.
Thus, Washington’s efficiency in transition threes is the margin where the Huskies’ success running against the Ducks will most likely be measured.
2. Stop the “Run and Gun” Ducks
The Oregon Ducks are averaging 89.4 ppg (14th best nationally).
The Ducks’ margin of victory is 37.8 points, which ranks 5th best nationally.
The Ducks’ offensive pace is (an incredibly scary) 123.1 points per 100 possessions which ranks 4th nationally.
The Huskies’ transition defense is holding opponents’ transition offense to 50% shooting overall.
Washington’s transition defense is allowing 55.9% shooting from 2-point range and 37% from three-point range.
However, against PAC-12 opponents the Huskies’ transition defense is allowing 64.9% shooting from two-point range.
Washington’s transition defense against PAC-12 opponents is tougher though — allowing only 26.3% shooting from beyond the three-point line.
Meanwhile, in Oregon’s transition offense is only 43.9% from two-point range in transition and a mere 23.1% from three-point range in their fastbreak offense.
If Washington can put the clamps on Oregon’s fastbreak offense, it will go a long way to keeping Washington in the game — especially if the Huskies can score in transition themselves (see above).
3. Take and Make 3-Pointers/While Preventing 3-Pointers
Oregon opponents are shooting 18.6% from three-point range which ranks 40th best nationally.
Washington is shooting 28.6% (198th nationally) from beyond the three-point line.
Meanwhile, the Ducks’ offense is shooting 38.7% (26th best nationally) from three-point range.
Washington’s opponents are shooting 30.9% from three-point range (230th nationally), which would be significantly below Oregon’s average but not enough without increasing the Huskies’ offensive production.
Simply, the Huskies must keep pace with Oregon from three-point range, by reducing Oregon’s three-point efficiency with their defense and/or significantly increasing their own three-point efficiency against the Ducks’ defense.
4. “Play Big” on Offensive and Defensive Boards
Overall, the Ducks have a huge rebounding edge, averaging 46.4 rebounds per game (23rd nationally) compared to the Huskies’ 35.8 rebounds per game (220th nationally).
Oregon opponents have been averaging only 34.8 rebounds against them, so it is clear that Washington faces a battle if they want to avoid being dominated on the boards.
A glimmer of hope resides in the offensive rebounds category, where Oregon has allowed its opponents 11.8 offensive rebounds per game (117th nationally) — a statistical weakness; whereas, the Huskies are averaging 12.7 offensive rebounds per game (148th nationally). The Huskies will need to dramatically increase their offensive rebounds production –likely plus 6 or more — to narrow Oregon’s normal rebounding margin of +16.
The Huskies will need solid performances from both their bigs, Darcy Rees and Quay Miller, together and separately.
Quay Miller’s athleticism on both ends can translate into a presence on the boards.
Likewise, Miller’s low post play on offense can keep Ducks’ defenders occupied and draw double teams which could prove deadly if Quay makes the correct kick-out pass to open teammates for three-point shots.
At 6’4″, Darcy Rees needs to be a presence inside defensively and on the boards, if her stamina is back after sitting out multiple early games (due to injury).
Rees is also a scoring threat in the lane and from three-point range, which can put a lot of pressure in Oregon bigs.
Overall, Oregon bigs are not used to playing “inside-outside” defense against equally versatile bigs.
If Rees and Miller bring their “A-game” this could be a very interesting challenge for the Ducks’ bigs — i.e., leading scorer Erin Boley, more traditional big Nyara Satou, and 6’7″Sedona Prince.
Oregon’s Sedona Prince is the wildcard. Prince is the most athletically versatile Oregon big, and would be tough matchup down low for the Huskies, particularly on the defensive end.
However, Prince has been nursing a leg injury and may be limited against the Huskies (or sit out completely).
5. PG Sanders Neutralize PG Papoa with Better Assists/Turnovers Ratio
***UPDATE – Due to a continuing injury issue, Tameiya Sadler is sitting out Washington’s game versus Oregon.***
Like the Huskies, Oregon has their own freshman point guard sensation, Te-Hina Paopao.
Similar to Washington’s Tameiya Sadler, Papoa is a dribble-drive penetrator in the Ducks’ halfcourt offense, as well as a fastbreak initiator that can facilitate easy baskets for her teammates; or that can go all the way to the hoop or finish with a pull-up jumper.
Papao is shooting 54.2% from 2-point range and hitting 50% of her shots from three-point range, per Synergy.*
In comparison, Sadler is 51.3% from two-point range and hitting 55.6% from 3-point range.
As for ball control, Sadler has recorded 14 turnovers (skewed by 6 against Washington State) versus 9 assists for an Assist/Turnover ratio of 0.64 — Sadler certainly needs to do better versus Oregon; as well as, 4 steals.
Papao has recorded 8 turnovers and 23 assists for an impressive Assist/Turnover ratio of 2.88; as well as, 7 steals.
Interestingly, the Ducks team is averaging 11.2 turnovers per game this season (13th lowest in the nation); meanwhile, Washington is 14.3 turnovers (65th nationally). If the Huskies — as a team, not just Sadler — can reduce turnovers by just two turnovers, it would go a long way towards setting the stage for an upset of the Ducks.