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Oregon is point guard U as Pritchard wins honor; Valeri speaks; Winterhawks all-stars; Ducks softball ranked

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Oregon's Payton Pritchard (3)won the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, which was announced Tuesday.Oregon's Payton Pritchard on Tuesday was named the winner of the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

The senior from West Linn is the first Ducks player and only the second from the Pac-12 to win the award, which has been given annually since 2004.

The Pac-12 men's basketball player of the year, Pritchard led the conference in scoring (20.5 points per game) and assists (5.6).

"It means a lot to win this award, to see all the hard work and hours spent in the gym pay off," Pritchard said. "You don't get awards like these without winning and that takes a team effort. I want to thank my coaches and teammates for believing in me to lead our team and my parents who sacrificed so much in their lives for me to have moments like these."

Pritchard's honor follows Sabrina Ionescu winning the Nancy Lieberman Award on Monday. Oregon is the first school to have players win the men's and women's national point guard of the year honor in the same season.

"We both came in together and for us to finish together on top is amazing," Pritchard said. "She has had one unbelievable career at Oregon and she is not done yet, her greatness has just begun."

Pritchard was a consensus first-team All-American after leading the Ducks to their third outright Pac-12 regular-season championship in five years.

"Any point guard award obviously goes to his teammates as well because of the assists and winning," Ducks coach Dana Altman said. "For our program, to have an award this prestigious with Bob Cousy's name on it, it's great. There's only one winner a year and as time goes by, that's becomes more and more historically significant."

Delon Wright of Utah in 2015 is the only other Pac-12 player to win the Bob Cousy Award. The 2019 winner was Ja Morant, who was having a standout rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The other positional award winners announced Tuesday by the Basketball Hall of Fame were Saddiq Bey of Villanova (Julius Irving Small Forward of the Year), Luka Garza of Iowa (Kareem Abdul Jabbar Center of the Year), Myles Powell of Seton Hall (Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year) and Obi Toppin of Dayton (Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year).

• Valeri talks quarantine — Portland Timbers captain Diego Valeri on Tuesday said he is focusing on family time, teammates and his own physical and mental fitness during the moratorium on training.

The Timbers players have daily training programs delivered by online video, and are keeping in touch using WhatsApp. Valeri said he, Sebastian Blanco and Diego Chara are leading the WhatsApp discussion for Latino players, while Steve Clark and Jeff Attinella have taken the lead on keeping in contact with English speakers.

Valeri is studying to be certified to coach soccer in his native Argentina, "But I don't know if I'm going to coach."

Valeri said he sometimes plays the guitar on his balcony to get fresh air. He and his daughter Connie sometimes kick the soccer ball on the balcony.

On keeping fit while staying at home, Valeri said: ""Having a routine with training, resting as best as you can and then eating the best you can. It's not easy, but trying to maintain that and then the mental factor. … That's the only way to stay fit. Being honest, we're going to need at least a couple of weeks after this (quarantine) to be (in shape) to compete because it's not the same kind of training. We're going to need at some point to start running and playing in more big spaces."

• WHL announces all-stars — Portland Winterhawks defenseman Johnny Ludvig and forward Seth Jarvis were named to the Western Hockey League Western Conference First All-Star Team. Winterhawks goalie Joel Hofer was a second-team selection.

The other first-team Western Conference all-stars are Spokane forward Adam Beckman, Kamloops forward Connor Zary, Spokane defenseman Ty Smith and Everett goalie Dustin Wolf.

The conference all-stars are selected by WHL general managers.

• On this date in 2006, Winterhawks goalie Kurtis Mucha made 41 saves in a 1-0 series-opening win over the Vancouver Giants. The top-seed Giants went on to win their next 12 games on their way to the WHL title, but Mucha's performance stands out as one of the best by a goalie in team history.

• Ducks softball ranked ninth — The Oregon softball team was ranked ninth in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association/USA Today coaches' poll, released Tuesday.

The Ducks won their first 16 games and were 22-2 when the season was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oregon was one of four Pac-12 teams in the top 10. UCLA was the unanimous No. 1 in the poll, Washington was No. 2, Texas (coached by former UO coach Mike White) No. 3 and Arizona No. 4.

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