The Oregon men's basketball team now has player recruitment AND coaching recruitment to worry about. The Oregonian has confirmed that head coach Ernie Kent's tenure as a Duck has come to an end. After finishing last season a measly 8-23, with only two PAC-10 wins, it wasn't surprising to see that this season also resulted in failure. Kent's coaching style is fairly unflinching, leaving no room to account for the fact that the Luke's are gone; Aaron Brooks is gone; and anyone who, in recent years, made a significant contribution on Mac court is either gone or surrounded by too many lesser players to make anything positive happen for the team. And it shows.
Kent's reliance on Tajuan Porter's three-point shot makes not only TP easy for defenders to guard, but also makes the entire team easy to beat; and a lack of rebounding by the so-called "big men" makes for more offensive and defensive boards for opposing teams. Kent has not changed his means of coaching to match the personnel he has playing under him. What does this mean? It's time for a change. Fans of Duck basketball have long loved Kent, but have recently begun to lose hope that he will alter his in-game style to match the skills held by his players, and will inevitably continue his crucial role in the demise of Oregon basketball.
As grim as all of this sounds for both players and fans, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it's in the shape of a swoosh. The newly built Matthew Knight Arena, slated to be open for business by next season, will certainly attract both big-name coaches to fill the shoes of the soon-departed Ernie Kent, as well as big-time recruits. The Oregonian is reporting that Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon may be interested, but various sports news reports are saying former NBA coach PJ Carlesimo may be the man for the job. As far as player recruitment goes, current athletes have heard more about Jamie Dixon and what he's done at Pitt, and less about Carlesimo's mediocre career in the pros. Not to say that Carlesimo wouldn't be a good fit; his career as a college coach was great at Seton Hall, leading them to the championship game in 1989; making six total tournament appearances; and winning Big East coach of the year. Twice.
There are a lot of uncertainties regrading Oregon basketball right now, but one thing is clear: whoever steps onto the court in Knight Arena next year is sure to have the support of Duck-Nation.
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