Eggers: UO needs to let frosh do media

Musings from your local scribe …

Filling out my NCAA Tournament bracket seems even harder than usual. I see seven teams capable of winning it all — Gonzaga, Louisville, Kansas, Indiana, Duke, Miami and South Dakota State.

Why the Jackrabbits? The Summit League champions are a No. 13 seed, which has beaten a No. 4 seed every year since 2008. Once they get beyond Michigan on Friday, momentum will be on their side. If they win out, that $20 investment on a 750-1 shot will pay out $15 grand.

Hey, nobody expected Buster Douglas to take down Mike Tyson, either. Right?

• I like Gonzaga. It's Mark Few's best team, with size, athleticism and the necessary on-floor leadership. If the Zags get to the Final Four, I won't be surprised.

But Miami is my pick to cut down the nets at the Georgia Dome on April 8 after watching the Hurricanes put away North Carolina for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title. Coach Jim Larranaga, who looks a lot like the guy who does my taxes, has put together a formidable, no-fear crew led by guards Durand Scott and Shane Larkin, the latter the son of baseball Hall-of-Famer Barry.

With the Heat and the Canes, it's the year for big-time basketball in South Beach.

• I'm not one of those predicting that Oregon will upset Oklahoma State.

The Ducks play consistent defense, and if the Cowboys shoot as poorly as they did in the second half of last Friday's 68-57 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game (.305), the underdogs could move on.

But I don't trust Oregon's offensive prowess, especially against a good defensive unit and with freshman point guard Dominic Artis still working into form from a foot injury. The Ducks need center Tony Woods and power forward Arsalan Kazemi to provide something inside. And they need to contain the Big 12 player of the year, 6-4 freshman Marcus Smart, who is virtually uncontainable.

"Oregon has a little more depth," says Portland State coach Tyler Geving, whose Vikings lost on the road to both teams -- 80-69 to Oregon and 80-58 to Oklahoma State. The Ducks "can rotate guys in and out. But Oklahoma State's starting five is pretty good -- and long. You're talking 6-4 and above at the 1, 2 and 3 spots. and while Oregon's defense is good, Oklahoma State's defense is going to be a big advantage for them."

When Geving saw the bracket, his first thought was, "That's a pretty good matchup, and it's not a 5-12. The teams are a lot closer than that."

Agreed. Still, I give the Cowboys the nod. Maybe Oregon will catch lightning in a bottle, but I don't see it happening.

• When I read this week that Artis has not been made available for media interviews this season, I asked Andy McNamara of the U of O sports information department about it.

"Basketball has preferred to have upperclassmen do interviews," McNamara answered in an email. "Artis was available at the Pac-12 tournament and will be so at the NCAA Tournament as well."

Of course, players are required to conduct interviews at the latter two events.

Prohibiting freshmen from speaking with the media is nothing new — John Thompson did it to "protect" Patrick Ewing at Georgetown in the early '80s. I'm disappointed Dana Altman has employed the strategy at Oregon. It's an injustice to his student-athletes, who are being denied a part of their college experience — one most of them enjoy. Reporters are the conduit between the coaches and athletes and the general public, who want to see what those involved have to say.

I also don't like the idea of coaches determining whom the media should interview. That's our job, not theirs.

• The Vikings endured an 8-20 season in 2012-13 and lose three senior starters — guards Lateef McMullen and Michael Harthun and 6-5 power forward Renado Parker.

But there is help coming. Kyle Benton, a 6-6, 220-pound prep forward from Long Beach, Calif., and Zach Gengler, a 6-2 guard out of Silverton High, will get an opportunity to play immediately. Two players who sat out last season — University of Portland transfer point guard Tim Douglas and medical redshirt Marcus Hall, a 6-4 wing — will become likely starters.

Geving, in Hutchinson, Kan., this week recruiting the national junior college tournament, has three more scholarships to offer.

"We need another scorer type and somebody with size who can score inside," says Geving, who intends to sign two or three JC players or perhaps a Division I transfer.

• The Trail Blazers' losses to Philadelphia and Milwaukee pretty much take care of their postseason hopes. Portland (31-36) has 15 games remaining — 14 against opponents with winning records. The exception is Dallas, no pushover and, like the Blazers, a team still fighting from the outside in for a playoff berth.

I'm guessing we'll see more of the rookies — and less of J.J. Hickson and perhaps some of the other vets — the rest of the way to give general manager Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts more of an idea which players they'll want around for next season.

• Speaking of win streaks, as Miami has blown away the league with its historic run, Denver has quietly fashioned a rather amazing 13-game run of its own. I've always liked and admired George Karl, particularly with the way he has handled cancer over the past three years. Don't sleep on the Nuggets in the playoffs. They'll be a tough out.

• Love it when broadcaster Mike Rice calls for "steps" to be called, as he seems to do several times a game. "Traveling" hasn't been called "steps" since the days when the "paint" was known as the "keyhole."

Also loved Rice — the former Duquesne guard who was Detroit's eighth-round pick in the 1962 NBA draft — talking about Dolph Schayes, the all-star power forward who played from 1948-64. Not many folks left who can give us a first-hand analysis of the Dolphster in his prime.

• By the way — and I'm not referring to Rice here — let's renew the call again for broadcasters to give us some proper verbiage. Players don't "score the basketball," they "score points" or "shoot the basketball." I think Hubie Brown was the guy who got it wrong first, and his mistake grew contagious.

• Separated at birth: Chad "The Body" Doing, the estimable sports talk show host at "The Game" (750 AM), and Milwaukee Bucks guard J.J. Redick.

The Blazers could do worse than to sign free agent-in-waiting Redick this summer as a sharpshooter who can come off the bench firing loaded bullets.

I'm told Doing is a pretty good marksman as well.

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Twitter: @kerryeggers

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