Paul White has friends and family flying into Portland from Chicago on Thursday for his senior weekend at Oregon.
Nobody in that traveling party sounds too concerned about how this week’s snowfall will affect their flights or ensuing drive to Eugene.
“They laugh at this stuff,” White said Wednesday. “Eugene has probably got one little shovel truck for the whole city. I am hoping that Portland does a better job of taking care of things like this.”
The foot and a half of snow that was piling up outside Matthew Knight Arena didn’t do much to distract the Ducks considering that most players live close enough to walk to the arena.
“We got some shots up Monday, got a lift in and practiced Tuesday and Wednesday,” senior guard Ehab Amin said.
The biggest impact the weather could have on the Ducks would be if icy conditions leave the arena half-empty when Arizona State arrives at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“Hopefully, the weather clears a bit and people can make it here,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
Oregon (15-12) sits in 10th place in the Pac-12 at 6-8 as it prepares for the final homestead of the regular season when the second-place Sun Devils (19-8, 10-5) arrive followed by Arizona (16-12, 7-8) on Saturday night.
“We haven’t given up yet and we won’t until the last minute of the last game,” Amin said. “We are trying to get some momentum and get a couple wins under our belt and some confidence before the conference tournament. We are focused on the Arizona schools and want to take care of business and then the next trip before we start to get ready for Las Vegas.”
The Ducks are a longshot to claim a first-round bye at the Pac-12 Tournament with a top-four finish, but have room to move up in seeding while sitting one-half game out of seventh place and 1 1/2 games out of fifth.
“You do have to have some momentum going in (to Pac-12 Tournament),” Altman said. “We have got four tough games and we will focus in on the first one and try to get as many wins as we can to get ourselves into position where we are playing good basketball.”
Oregon has lost three straight games, but has a three-game winning streak at home.
“We are definitely going to need a momentum push, but I truly feel like this team has not reached its full potential yet,” White said. “I am hoping we can work toward that and everyone will be clicking on the same page.”
Oregon’s best stretch of basketball in conference play may have ended when it lost 78-64 at Arizona State last month. The Ducks were coming off a blowout win over USC and a road victory at Arizona when they took a four-point lead into the final nine minutes at ASU before the Sun Devils followed with 19 straight points to begin a stretch of seven wins in the 10 games.
“They are playing good and inspired so we are going to have to play real well,” Altman said. “That is an athletic and talented team. They are sitting there and playing for a lot and so are we, so it will be a tough ballgame.”