Good times roll
What a start to 2017 for major college sports in the state of Oregon — it's been about as good as it gets.
Start with the Oregon Ducks' first appearance in the men's basketball Final Four in 78 years. The Ducks, after winning the Pac-12 regular-season title, showed themselves to be on a par with anyone in the country, despite the loss of senior forward Chris Boucher to injury.
Then appreciate, also, the young Oregon women reaching the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time before losing to powerful Connecticut, and the Sydney Wiese-led Oregon State women's basketball team getting to the Sweet 16.
A lot more to be proud of is still in action: especially Oregon State baseball, Oregon softball and Ducks women's outdoor track and field. All three of those teams surged to No. 1 in the national rankings.
Coach Pat Casey's baseball Beavers broke their school record Sunday, winning their 19th game in a row. They are 24-1.
The Oregon women's track and field program is coming off its seventh NCAA Indoor track crown in the past eight years.
UO softball, which is seeking its fifth consecutive Pac-12 title, entered the week as the only defeated team in the country, 33-0.
Also, the Men of Oregon are ranked No. 2 in outdoor track and field, and Oregon State's women's gymnastics team will go into the NCAA championships ranked eighth in the nation.
Additionally, Oregon's women's acrobatics and tumbling team is at least No. 2 in the nation, having split two contests with two-time defending national champ and chief rival Baylor.
The defending NCAA champion Oregon men's golf team most recently was tied for fifth in the Division I coaches poll.
And, the Ducks were ranked 23rd in men's tennis.
Will Thorns be ready?
The Portland Thorns came away from their preseason tournament with a win, a tie and a loss. But the emphasis was on getting players prepared for the regular season.
Portland scored one goal in each of the three matches. On Saturday, it was midfielder Mana Shim scoring from outside the penalty area, the third preseason goal-scorer for the Thorns, who ended with a 1-1 draw against the Houston Dash.
Thorns coach Mark Parsons sounded pleased with what he saw on Saturday, praising the energy, competitive fight and quality of his team.
Portland was without several players who departed for national team friendlies: midfielder Allie Long and defender Meghan Klingenberg with the United States, forward Christine Sinclair with Canada, and midfielder Amandine Henry with France. All four saw action in the Thorns' March 26, 1-0 win over Chicago and the March 29, 2-1 loss to the U.S. under-23 team.
The U.S. national team will play Russia twice in Texas this week — Thursday in San Francisco and Sunday at Houston. Sinclair and Canada will face Sweden on Thursday and Germany on Sunday. Henry and France will play the Nertherlands on April 7, so she won't miss the Thorns' April 15 National Women's Soccer League opener against the visiting Orlando Pride.
Portland forward Nadia Nadim who played in all three tournament matches and converted a PK in the win over Chicago, will join Denmark for an April 11 match against Finland.
Two other U.S. national team midfielders — Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan — missed the preseason tournament with injuries and will not play against Russia. Heath has a back injury, and Horan has a hip problem. Their status for the April 15 NWSL opener was unknown at the start of this week.
Also, Portland midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir (back) has not yet been able to train this preseason.
In a bit of good news, forward Meg Morris played the final 15 minutes of Saturday's match — her first action since a season-ending broken hip last summer.