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Future bright for Oregon sports teams

Last year was an absolutely remarkable year in Oregon sports history, yet as I sat down to write my first column for the 2009-10 school year I couldn’t help but think the next few years could be even more exciting.

Granted it will probably be a long time before we see another Galen Rupp or Rachel Yurkovich, but in the next few years to come the University will have a lot to talk about. While the football team will likely continue to have success year in and year out, the younger more inexperienced teams — such as men’s basketball and baseball — will start to blossom in no time at all.

With the men’s basketball team, it will simply be a matter of getting in the weight room and gaining experience on the court — typical for any young college team. But with the talented sophomore core group of Garrett Sim, Matthew Humphrey, Drew Wiley, Teondre Williams, Michael Dunigan and Josh Crittle, the Ducks will be a force to be reckoned within the Pacific-10 Conference before all is said and done. And now that they have a full year of college life under their belts, it should make for an interesting next couple of seasons.

The addition of Matthew Knight Arena in 2011 will also be a large contributor to Oregon’s success as the Ducks begin their run back to the tournament.

Meanwhile, across the river at PK Park, the final construction on the stadium should be completed for the 2010 season as second-year head coach George Horton and the Ducks take on their extremely tough Pac-10 schedule.

The baseball squad was similar to the basketball team last year in that they too were freshmen-heavy. The team featured 14 freshmen on last year’s squad who went 14-43, which included a 13-game losing streak to end the season, but they have had a year to develop fundamentally and put in time in the weight room, and that looked to be one of the biggest disadvantages for the Oregon team last year. Matching up with some of the top teams in the country throughout conference play, many of the younger Duck players looked like they were ‘swimming in their uniforms,’ so to speak.

The addition of assistant coach Jay Uhlman should be a bright spot for Oregon’s lackluster offense last season as well. Uhlman plans to work with the hitters, base runners and infielders throughout the season. He and standout shortstop KC Serna should have a connection from the beginning as Uhlman was also a collegiate shortstop at Nevada where he was a member of the Wolf Pack double play combination that led the nation and set the school record with 88 double plays in 1997.

So clearly the baseball and basketball teams have several similarities: They’ve both struggled and gotten through it, they both have an extremely talented sophomore class and they will both be playing in brand new venues. And hopefully within the next couple of seasons we will be able to see their growth both on the field and off.

While I may be somewhat biased toward the 2012 class being that I am a member of it, I truly believe that before long this sophomore class will be the face of Oregon sports.

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