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Ducks balance finals week and NCAA Tournament appearance
Release Date: 03/18/2014
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by Rob Moseley

MILWAUKEE — Before settling down to write his paper, Joseph Young napped for an hour or two, then had a snack.

Sufficiently rested and nourished, he sat down to tackle a paper for the comparative literature class the UO junior guard is taking this term.

Or rather, Young remained seated to tackle the paper. Nap to snack to studying, Young did it all from seat 17A on the Oregon basketball team's charter flight to Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon.

The Ducks (23-9) arrived on site two days before Thursday's second-round NCAA Tournament matchup with BYU (12:10 p.m. PT, TruTV), after a morning practice in Eugene. They have another workout scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, site of Thursday's game, and later a study table session, as the UO men juggle tournament play with final exams this week.

"It just comes with the territory," senior guard Johnathan Loyd said. "I'd rather be juggling it than not."

Wednesday's schedule begins with a news conference at 11:35 p.m. PT for players, and another featuring UO coach Dana Altman afterward. At 12:15 p.m. PT, the Ducks will have a 40-minute window in which to practice at the Bradley Center, a session open to the public.

A two-hour study table session fills the time between practice and dinner. Faculty athletic representative James O'Fallon, a professor emeritus in the UO law school, is on the trip to proctor final exams, with assistance from former UO football player Chris Young, an academic advisor for the UO's services for student-athletes.

Young made contact with players' professors when Oregon's tournament selection was announced Sunday, and entered the Ducks' exam schedule into a spreadsheet on his laptop. He and O'Fallon will work to make sure finals are conducted as closely as possible to the schedules and conditions requested by professors.

For instance, a professor might allow for a test to be conducted with a laptop, but one lacking Internet access. Such are the details the proctors will oversee on behalf of the university's academic staff.

"From my experience, they've always been easy to work with," Young said. "If you tell them and they know you're going to do exactly what they say, you're fine."

Young's backpack on the Ducks' charter flight contained hard copies of some tests to be administered. Others were emailed to him, to be printed out for players at the time of their exams.

Young also packed a scanner. As soon as finals are completed, he will scan them and email them to the professor.

The proctors will also ensure that players retain access to tutors back at the Jaqua Center, via Skype.

O'Fallon and Young have ample support from Altman in trying to keep the Ducks' attention adequately split between basketball and academics. In the locker room after Oregon's win over Arizona to close the regular season, the loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament and again Sunday after the NCAA Tournament selection show, Altman's remarks to the team included a need to focus on their studies as the winter quarter draws to a close.

Young said several players made unscheduled appearances in the Jaqua Center on Saturday, to make up for being in Las Vegas at the conference tournament last week. The team also had extended sessions Sunday and Monday, to maximize their time in Eugene between postseason tournaments.

Sophomore Damyean Dotson said that, earlier in his career, balancing academics during basketball road trips could be a challenge. But it's one he's learned how to tackle.

"You've just got to do it, got to start writing," Dotson said. "Sometimes it can be hard, but I've been doing it for two years now, so I'm used to it.

"It's kind of like going to the Jaqua Center back at school. It's juggling, but like Johnny said, it's good juggling."

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