Utah faces the Oregon Ducks this Saturday in the Pape Jam and in getting to know each team, Dave from Addicted to Quack and I exchanged questions on our respective teams. You can read what I had to say to his questions here and, of course, his questions are answered below.
Block U: 1. Ernie Kent was on the hot seat entering last season, yet he managed to have a pretty successful year. Do you think he's the right coach for Oregon? It's said that he doesn't develop prized recruits, do you believe this and did Oregon win in spite of coaching last year -- kind of like how many Utah fans feel the Utes rode Andrew Bogut to the Sweet 16 in Ray Giacoletti's first season.
Ernie is largely a victim of both his own success and the unrealistic expectations of sports fans these days. By leading the program to a Pac Ten Championship or an Elite Eight, some people start to expect that to happen every year. But it takes time to build the program to a North Carolina or UCLA status, and its unreasonable for Oregon to be at that level right now. There were also issues with a possible extramaritial affair at the same time that Oregon was going through their worst season of the decade that upset a lot of fans. Some fans were also upset that he couldn't get Kevin Love or Kyle Singler to come to Oregon, although those were unreasonable demands. Both were pretty clear that they wanted to go to traditional powers. To hold that against EK with his impeccable track record of recruiting was unfair. I think that he would have been fired had he not made the tourney with the group we had last year, but I also think that some fans are just spoiled. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
Block U: 2. The Ducks are off to another strong start and poised to make noise in the Pacific Ten once again. What are the expectations for this season?
Some Duck fans are screaming for another Elite Eight. Like I said, some fans are also unreasonable.
Block U: 3. Out of Malik Hairston, Maarty Leunen, Tajuan Porter and Bryce Taylor, each toward the top in the NCAA in scoring, who should Utah be more concerned with? How does the Ducks defense look this year?
The defense has been suspect at times, and that's why UO lost the St. Mary's game. But they really cleaned that up against Kansas State, and really contained Michael Beasley.
Block U: 4. How did Saint Mary's manage to beat Oregon? Was it a fluke, did they exploit a weakness with this team or are the Gaels really that good?
Block U: 5. The last time the Utes and Ducks met, Utah won a close one in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Has the Ducks' offense and defense changed much since then? With Luke Nevill being so much of Utah's offense, will the Ducks go to a more zone in hopes of containing him?