Last time we met, we discussed how important it would be for the Ducks to have energetic big men in order for this to be a successful season. But, how can those big guys even have a chance of executing offensively — or getting back defensively — if the guards aren’t living up to their promising potential? This week we will discuss the importance of the guards’ play on this team, as their relevance is as important as any of the big men’s. There’s a reason basketball is a team sport, people…
Let’s start off with 6’4″ guard Jalil Abdul- Bassit. Jalil offers a wide range of abilities that will be discussed in a moment. But it’s important to note that Jalil’s experience is valuable to such a young group of guys. Bassit has junior college experience, and one year under his belt at the University of Oregon. His leadership will be huge in helping to shape the future of Oregon basketball among the young studs on the squad right now. On the court, Bassit offers limitless range from beyond the arc. If you find him for an open look, you better expect a shot to go up because he’s that lethal of a shooter when he gets his momentum going. Jalil will need to be a threat offensively this year, as the team is counting on his scoring ability to get it past the difficult teams it will see this year.
Next on the list is 6’3″ guard Casey Benson. Casey is an incoming freshman, who was a stud back in high school in Arizona. What you have to love about Benson is that he’s very composed for such a young guard. He doesn’t get rattled with on-ball pressure, and he executes at a high level whenever he gets the chance to play. His work ethic is great, and he will definitely see minutes as the season goes on. Benson is a valuable backup point guard, so look for him to be the delivery boy on the assists.
I’m going to group Hayden Coppedge, Max Heller, Charlie Noebel, and Anthony Piganelli together. These are the walk-ons or transfers who most likely won’t see too much time, but still deserve as much attention as anyone on the team. Walking on to a division one basketball program is no easy task, and the learning curve is higher than Spencer’s Butte. There will need to be a lot of patience in player development with these young cats, so don’t expect to see them do too much on the court this season. Coach Altman specifically said they’d have about an 8-man rotation throughout the season, so these guys already know what’s in store for them. Since they haven’t seen much action on the court, there isn’t too much for us to discuss at this point about what they know and don’t know. However, for now, keep your eyes out for them and when they do get their opportunities to showcase their abilities, we’ll discuss them then.
Moving on, we have the fan favorite, 6’1″ Theo Friedman. Theo didn’t see much action last year since he was a freshman, and to be honest, a bit undersized. But, that doesn’t mean Theo didn’t work on his game over the summer to improve and get stronger. Theo offers a nasty mid-range jump shot and the ability to push the ball down the court when the team is looking to break away. Theo will most likely see many more opportunities this season, as he is considered a veteran on this young squad. His vocalness and leadership will be big components to creating a good basketball environment around the guys. He knows what it means to go to the NCAA Tournament, so he’ll have to show by actions on the practice court the type of mentality that is necessary to reach the tournament again.
I personally love the next guy we’re about to talk about. 6’1″ Guard Ahmaad Rorie is a starting freshman point guard on this quick Oregon team, and he deserves it. He plays maturely and does everything that Coach Altman requires of him. He can shoot, pass, dribble, defend … You name it! Very high basketball IQ, as he can see plays developing before they even happen. Make sure to keep an eye out for this young gun: he has a future in this league.
Lastly, and most notably, is 6’2″ hot shot Joseph Young. I’m not going to go into what he can do offensively, as we’re all aware of his dead accurate sniper offense. What is important to state though is how important his defense is going to be this year. This guy is the star of the team, there’s no question about it. His seniority, skill, and love for the game speak for itself. The guys are going to HAVE to respect him as he’s earned it over the years. But, what’s really going to be important is how he leads by example on the defensive side. Young will need to be vocal, energetic, and moving at all times getting everyone involved. Lead by example. That will be Joe Young’s most crucial challenge this year. His offensive will come naturally, so don’t worry about that.
So that’s that everyone! Those are you Ducks for the 2014-2015 season. It’s going to be an interesting year seeing how Coach Altman decides to move his pieces around, almost like a game of chess. With such a limited personnel, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see what works and what doesn’t.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck