As Kermit the Frog sang “It’s Not Easy Being Green”, or in the cases of Oregon and Baylor it’s not easy being green and yellow. The Ducks and Bears have to be two of the more disappointing teams in the country as we approach March.
At the beginning of the year both teams had high expectations not only in the Pac-12 and Big 12 respectively but also in the NCAA Tournament. Both teams have struggled mightily since the beginning of conference play, to the point where just making the tournament is in question. Baylor is 2-8 in the Big 12 just ahead of 0-10 TCU and Oregon is 3-8 in the Pac-12 ahead of only Washington State and USC who are two of the teams the Ducks have been able to beat.
Baylor began the season 12-1 with their lone loss coming to Syracuse in Maui in November. With the likes of veterans Brady Heslip and Gary Franklin in Scott Drew’s backcourt being joined by junior college star Kenny Chery and Isaiah Austin manning the middle with Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince and Cory Jefferson at the forward spots the Bears had the pieces to compete.
The athleticism and experience gave what many thought gave Baylor the chance to compete with Kansas and Oklahoma State in the conference. It hasn’t worked out that way with the team’s only wins coming against TCU and a 76-70 victory at Oklahoma State who has struggled in their own right at just 4-6.
In Eugene Dana Altman had a sophomore backcourt in Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis and three transfers in guards Joseph Young (Houston) and Jason Calliste (Detroit) and forward Mike Moser (UNLV). The Ducks could not have gotten off to a better start winning all 12 non-conference games despite a 9-game suspension for Artis and Ben Carter for selling school-issued sneakers. The team got as high as #10 in the country, and then came Pac-12 play. The league-opening win over Utah should have been seen as an omen of things to come. They needed a breakaway dunk in overtime from Dotson with less than a second left to win 70-68.
After that win however the Ducks proceeded to lose five straight before getting their second league win at Washington State. They have since lost three of their last four to slip to 10th in the conference, two games behind Utah.
Two teams with lofty goals in October and November now look as though they probably need to win their conference tournaments to just make the NCAA Tournament. It’s not easy being green Baylor and Oregon, not easy at all.