For at least one more game, Luke Jackson gets to pay tribute to his late grandfather.
Oregon plays Colorado in the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night at McArthur Court, site of many of Jackson's best games. It means something special to Jackson to play near his hometown of Creswell and with friends and family watching. His grandfather, Dean Eusted, died before the season.
'I kind of dedicated this whole season to him,' Jackson says. 'Before every game, I just kind of look up into the (Mac Court) stands during the national anthem, and I'd try to imagine him being in the third balcony up there somewhere, and just kind of watching down on me.'
When Jackson made two free throws to beat UCLA 60-59 two weekends ago, he and the Ducks still had the feeling they might play another game in the fabled old arena. Alas, they couldn't hold off Stanford in the second round of the Pacific-10 Conference tournament, their NCAA hopes dashed with their 15-12 record. But the NIT came calling Sunday, and pitted the Ducks against the Big 12 Conference's Buffaloes -(18-10) at 9 p.m. Wednesday, live on ESPN2.
It may or may not be the last game for Jackson and fellow seniors James Davis, Jay Anderson and Andre Joseph. It's an opportunity for Jackson, Davis and Anderson to add more prestige to their careers, which includes the 2002 Pac-10 title and Elite Eight run Ñ and 16-0 home record Ñ and last year's Pac-10 tourney title.
The seniors do not feel like the NIT will be the consolation prize of their career. 'We played with our backs against the wall in the Pac-10 tournament (last week) and we were pretty solid against Stanford,' Davis says. 'If we can play that well and with that intensity in the NIT, there's no reason why we can't run the table.'
Buffaloes will run
Here's the skinny on Colorado: 7-foot junior center David Harrison led the Big 12 in shooting (.626), while averaging 17 points, nine rebounds and nearly three blocks, and named to the league's first team. É 'A really athletic, Washington-type team,' Davis says, with quick guards Michel Morandais (16.1 ppg) and Blair Wilson (12.7 ppg). É 'They don't run too many plays, they just get out and run,' Davis adds. É Went 10-6 in tough Big 12. É Beat Oregon State 81-66 and Cal 78-60 this year.
Jeremiah Dominguez, the speedy guard who led South Salem to the Class 4A title Saturday night, gave his verbal commitment to the University of Portland the next day. 'They gave me the opportunity to play right away,' he says. 'And their style fits me.'
With Dominguez, UP guard Eugene Jeter will be freed up to score more. Dominguez also envisions throwing an alley-oop or two to high-flying Donald Wilson. The Pilots also got another guard when Portlander Darren Cooper transferred in.
Dominguez says Gonzaga offered him a chance to walk on and earn a scholarship and Oregon considered giving him a scholarship, 'but the situation didn't fit because I would have had to sit out a year.'
The Pilots, who finished 11-17 after losing to Loyola Marymount in the West Coast Conference tournament, also will get immediate frontcourt help from burly 6-7 prep Marcus Lewis and 6-10 transfer Ben Sullivan.
Ninth-seeded Arizona (20-9) plays Seton Hall (20-9) on Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C., in the NCAA South Regional. Coach Lute Olson likes the underdog role and compares the senior-less 'Cats to his 1997 championship team. 'We can go on a run,' he says. Athletic Arizona started to excel with Portland's Chris Rodgers starting at guard; he averaged 8.8 points and shot .432 from the floor. Salim Stoudamire averaged 16.5 points and shot .454 (.421 3-pointers). É
Kansas (21-8) got the near-home site they wanted, playing Illinois-Chicago (24-7) on Friday at Kansas City's Kemper Arena in the NCAA Midwest Regional. Aaron Miles averaged 9.2 points, 7.2 assists (2.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover) and 3.9 rebounds. Michael Lee, who missed nearly the whole preseason with a broken collarbone, played in 20 games with three starts and averaged only 5.1 points and shot .348. The Jayhawks beat Missouri three times, meaning Miles and Lee hold a 3-0 advantage over former Jefferson teammate Thomas Gardner. Missouri -(16-13) will play at Michigan tonight in the first round of the NIT. The 6-4 Gardner, who took over a starting role in January, averaged 6.4 points and shot .377. The Tigers, a preseason top-10 team, really underachieved.
New Mexico in its second year under Ritchie McKay, the former OSU and PSU coach, showed some improvement. The Lobos went 14-14, but 0-10 on the road. McKay will get back Danny Granger, who averaged 20 points and nine rebounds, and former PSU player Troy DeVries, who shot .446 on 3-pointers and averaged 11 points. É Jack Wolfinger, the well-traveled, 6-11 hoopster from Portland, finished his college eligibility, playing for Division III Southern Vermont. He averaged 5.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists as Southern Vermont went 18-11; he helped the team go 42-17 the past two years. But his last game: 0 points, 0 rebounds and fouled out in 14 minutes. 'He was pressing all year,' coach Ryan Marks says. 'Inconsistent.' Wolfinger now hopes to sign with an agent and play in Europe. É Katy Steding's Warner Pacific women (20-13) ended their season in the NAIA Division II tournament, losing to Dakota Wesleyan 81-62.