Another week, another rise in the national rankings for University of Oregon men’s basketball and another audible sigh from the Ducks.
With their winning streak extended to nine games as they hold first place in the Pac-12 at 7-0, the Ducks (18-2 overall) found themselves ranked 10th in The Associated Press poll of the media on Monday, and 12th by the coaches voting for USA Today.
It is the highest ranking for Oregon since the Ducks entered the 2007 NCAA tournament also at No. 10. That UO team of six years ago had been as high as No. 7 earlier in that season, when it was 18-1 before it dropped six of its next eight games.
Need any more reason why the Ducks are being cautious about making too much of their current ranking?
“It’s nice, but it would mean a lot more if it were later in the season," Oregon coach Dana Altman said Monday. “We’ve still got 11 conference games to go.
“I feel good for the seniors, it’s nice for them, (but) in the scope of things it doesn’t mean anything. It means absolutely nothing when we play Stanford."
Tonight’s game at Stanford will be the next test for the Ducks, with a game at California on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a tough week," Altman said. “Stanford played really well (Sunday in beating Utah). They shot it really well, and to win (87-56), their confidence is going to be high."
The Ducks should be feeling much the same, without a loss since Dec. 19, and suddenly they are starting to receive considerable notice on the national level.
“We’re trying to stay away from worrying about the outside, the media and what they’re writing," said UO junior Johnathan Loyd, now the starting point guard with Dominic Artis out indefinitely with a left foot injury. “The seniors are doing a good job of reminding us, and Coach Altman, too, that we have a long way to go and this could go away fast."
That remains the primary point of emphasis from Altman: What has happened so far will not mean as much if the Ducks do not continue along this path.
“I don’t want the guys to worry about rankings, don’t want them to really worry about winning," Altman said. “I want them to worry about playing better, because if we take care of that, the wins will come and we’ll make progress.
“We’ve got to get better. We’re not good enough right now. If we’re going to win the conference, if we’re going to win some games here, we’ve got to get better."