The world of sports has become increasingly competitive. Today, coaches of every sport can be either be granted a major contract extension, or a noose depending on the outcome of a single season.
The University of Oregon's Men's Basketball Team is currently winless in the Pac-10, and have yet to win a single conference game. Even the Ducks' hated rivals, the Oregon State Beavers, who did not win a single conference game the previous season, have managed to win one contest this season.
Granted, half of Oregon's roster is made up of either true or redshirt freshman, but the Ducks also have players with much experience. Team "leaders" such as Tajuan Porter, Joevan Catron, LeKendric Longmire, Churchill Odia, and Kamyron Brown, have been close to non-existent in conference play.
Earlier in the conference season, due to the abysmal play of starters Joevan Catron and Tajuan Porter, Coach Kent decided to bench them. While this conflict has said to have been "resolved" it still does not answer the many questions surrounding this team
There are many visible problems with the Oregon Ducks this season. They have failed to fill the void left by three of last year's starters, Malik Hairston, Bryce Taylor, and Maarty Leunen. Tajuan Porter, who as a freshman, set the Pac-10 record for most three-point shots scored, has been non-existent this season. Joevan Catron, who has been somewhat hampered due to injury this season, has also not shown consistent play this season.
Earlier in the non-conference season, Catron lit both the scoreboard and stat sheets, making the Alabama Crimson Tide's defense look silly. Ever since then, Catron has not played with the same spark.
There are many more problems facing this Oregon Ducks team, but for each problem, there is one, obviously common denominator, and that is Oregon's Head Coach, Ernie Kent.
I will give Kent credit in one area, and one area only, and that is recruiting. Kent can recruit with the best coaches in the NCAA. His charisma in unmatched by any other coach in the Pac-10. He can walk into a living room of a high school basketball player, and sweet talk them into attending the University of Oregon.
Other than recruiting, Kent fails as a coach. He cannot manage a game to save his career. He cannot tap into the potential of, or progress the talent of his players. Kent can recruit. Oh yes, he can recruit. But aside from that, he is useless as a coach.
Yes, Oregon's roster is made up of mostly freshmen. Yes, Oregon lost their three best players in Hairston, Taylor, and Leunen last season. Yes, some players have been hampered by injury this season. But to have immensely talented juniors in Catron and Porter, a talented senior in Churchill Odia, and LeKendric Longmire, a sophomore with unmatched leadership qualities, and still have yet to win a single game in the Pac-10 is inexcusable.
Oregon's athletic department made the wrong move by granting Kent a four year contract extension. With Oregon's affluent alumni association, amazing facilities, and a sugar daddy in Phil Knight, it would have been all too easy to have bought out Kent's contract last season, and hired a much more capable head coach.
Now, Oregon must face the consequences of the athletic department's actions.
Oregon has an immensely talented freshman class in Michael Dunigan, Matthew Humphrey, Teondre Williams, Josh Crittle, Garrett Sim, Drew Wiley, Nicholas Fearn, and John Elorriaga. If the Ducks want to make sure that this crop of talent goes un-wasted, like other past classes, then the athletic department should make the correct move after this season, which would be to buy out Kent's contract, and hire the RIGHT person to coach this loaded Oregon Ducks team.
Then, and only then, will the Oregon Ducks be able to advance out of mediocrity, and be considered a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-10.
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