Will Richardson’s name is now in Oregon record books, and is unlikely to be removed
It’s unlikely that we ever see a career like Will Richardson’s ever again for the Oregon Ducks.
That’s not because it’s been filled with endless unforgettable moments, or accolades that will have his name littered throughout the record books in Eugene. Rather, it’s because, in the new world of college basketball, where the transfer portal is ever looming and the pathway of “one-and-done” has become the norm, there are simply few players who will have the patience to stick around.
On Thursday night, Richardson made history by becoming the first player in Oregon history to play in 145 career games. Before him, both Jonathan Lloyd and Payton Pritchard had reached the 144-game mark, but with 5 years under his belt, and a handful of games left to play, Richardson took the belt.
Most records are meant to be broken, but it feels like this one could stand for quite some time in Eugene.
“It will be tough,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said on Thursday night when asked if anyone will ever break Richardson’s longevity streak. “Guys are going to bounce around, and that’s their right, you know? If things were different, who knows if Will would have stayed for five years? It will be a hard record to break because of the Covid year, and because of the direction that things have gone. And, like I said, I don’t think that’s wrong.”
Richardson certainly got an assist in breaking this record. While the average college player gets a maximum of 4 years to make their mark, because of the 2020 season that was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Richardson — and all other players who were impacted by that decision — were gifted an extra year of eligibility.
Truth be told, there’s a world in which Richardson broke this record a while ago. Throughout his career, the veteran point guard has dealt with numerous injuries, including a broken hand that forced him to miss much of the 2020-21 season. Richardson also missed the final 5 games of the 2021-22 season after coming down with mononucleosis.
“You know, he’s had his ups and downs, but I respect guys who play a little hurt and play through things,” Altman said. “He’s won a lot of games for us. He’s a good basketball player. There have been some ups and downs because of some injuries but he’s fought through them. He’s shown toughness that a lot of players don’t show over a five-year period.”
He’s also shown the willingness to stay in a single place for an extended period of time, which has become increasingly rare in this “ADHD-esque” version of college sports that has become prevalent thanks to the transfer portal.
When I asked Altman to reflect on Richardson’s career, I wasn’t expecting the relatively introspective answer that I got. The Ducks’ coach with more than 40 years of coaching experience took a second to acknowledge the accomplishment and remarked on how unlikely it is that we’ll ever see it happen again in this new era.
“I think guys have an opportunity to go wherever they want to go, and I want guys who want to be here,” Altman said. “Give us 12, 13, 14, 15 guys who want to be here at Oregon. Hopefully, they’re all invested in being the best they can be, and from there, we’ll just swing away and see what we can make happen. But the game has changed, and it’s going to be different. For guys like me that have 40-some years, it’s changed and we either have to change with it, or get fired or retire, whatever. I’ve tried to change with it, but do I like everything about it? No. But I want guys to have opportunities and want guys to play as hard as they can if they want to. We’re not going to beg anybody to be here. We want them to be here.”
Pretty soon, Richardson is no longer going to be here.
After five years in Eugene, and countless games at Matthew Knight Arena, the veteran point guard will get his send-off on Saturday afternoon when the Ducks tip-off against the Stanford Cardinal in the final regular season game of the year. It’s senior night, so you can bet that Richardson is going to get his rightful honors when all is said and done. After spending so much time with one team, and one coach, an ending is necessary.
“He’s tired of me,” Altman laughed. “You know, he’s heard everything over and over and over again. I don’t come up with new material, so he’s heard at all.”
He’s heard it all, and he’s seen it all at Oregon.
There’s a good chance that Richardson has done something that no Duck will ever do again, as well.
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