Eugene, Ore. – From Media Row at Matt Knight Arena, Dean Davis, Basketball Correspondent for FishDuck.com reporting.
Oh baby does it feel good to be back! Oregon picked up right where they left off last season with a dominating exhibition win against their in-town “rivals,” Northwest Christian University. It’s clear that Dana Altman’s philosophies have stayed consistent with the team, regardless of the brand new roster. However, it’s also obvious that there are some major weaknesses that will be difficult to patch up. Coach Altman summed it up best with the opening statement in his post-game interview by saying, “It’s a start.” Getting a squad that has personnel so raw and new to come together in such a short period of time is a huge challenge for any coach. But, if anyone can handle adversity at the NCAA level, it’s Coach Altman. So have no fear, as Dana the tough-son-of-a-gun is here!
Although tonight’s game was an exhibition, it doesn’t mean that nothing was learned from the huge 101-69 victory. Oregon came out running and gunning, just as one would expect with such an undersized team. Northwest Christian University (NCU) just couldn’t keep up with the athleticism of Dwayne Benjamin, Jordan Bell, and Elgin Cook, just to name a few. Both teams played a man-to-man defense throughout the entire game, but no matter what defense NCU played, Oregon was able to outmatch them athletically. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case when Oregon begins its league play, so this is the time to figure out the best offense that it can run with limited personnel.
Coach Altman discussed after the game how there have been, “Lot’s of mistakes in practice on the defensive end,” and, man, was that extremely apparent in tonight’s kick-back game. Although Oregon started the game off with a 30-5 lead with 8:58 left, the Ducks started to play a little more laid back on the defensive end as NCU cut the deficit to 19 at the half with a score of 49-30. Oregon obviously didn’t have to worry about its defense with such a large (and growing) lead, but it’s always a good idea to make sure your defense is at its best at all times. Defense is a constant, offense is a variable. Guys weren’t getting to their spots in time for help defense, nor were they staying in front of their guys for the majority of the second half.
Coach Altman also stressed that the, “Consistency of practice hasn’t been that good” which is a good indicator of why Oregon looked somewhat sloppy at times against the weaker competition. A huge part of Oregon’s offense this year with its athletic players will be pushing the ball ahead on fast-break opportunities, and tonight they struggled with that concept. “Guards and bigs weren’t looking ahead,” Coach Atlman said in regard to their fast break opportunities. Had their big men specifically looked ahead, they could have converted on many more opportunities. Oregon’s offense could have easily scored 130 points tonight had everything run smoothly. But, again,there are going to be some bumps in the road with such a new team, so patience is key for their success over time.
From an offensive scheme point of view, the Ducks are looking to run a lot of screens to get their shooters open, with very little post game. That’s probably because of their lack of size, so be sure to watch guard movement, especially guys like Joseph Young and Elgin Cook with how they get to their spots within the pass and cut schemes. Also, there’s a good amount of high post passing going on from guys like Dwayne Benjamin and frehsman Dillon Brooks to guards cutting inside, which is good for spacing and movement on the floor.
Some highlights from tonight’s game were Elgin Cook’s 20 points and 8 boards, as well as Joseph Young’s 27 points and 7 assists. Always nice to see your guards getting theirs as well as feeding others. Dillon Brooks looked really nice as well, with lots of activity on the boards and good basketball decision making.
The Ducks are raw at this point in time, so bear with us this season. There will be many up times, but what goes up must come down. It’s going to be an interesting one, folks!
Top photo by Craig Strobeck