A lot has changed over the offseason for the Oregon Ducks Basketball team, but the biggest change that occurred is the brand spanking new roster! Let’s be honest, without knowing our roster inside and out, we’re never going to be able to analyze ANYTHING about the team throughout the season. This will be a two-part segment on the Oregon roster. Today, we’ll be discussing each big man’s abilities, and how he can assist the squad in what we might consider a rebuilding year.
This season the Ducks are very, very, VERY undersized. Any sort of big play will be crucial, especially once league play begins. Hopefully, by that time, 6’10” Transfer Center Michael Chandler will be healthy enough to compete, as he will be an important piece for the Duck’s success. Chandler offers a little bit of everything, from post-moves to being a rim-defender. Although he isn’t the most athletic center in the world, his understanding of positioning under the basket, and quick decision making allows for him to be a threat underneath. In fact, he’s the only threat underneath on this Duck team. So, at this point we can only hope that Michael will be healthy enough to play early on.
Thankfully, Coach Altman brought in a few forwards that could make up for the lack of size in the paint with their athleticism, most notably 6’9″ Jordan Bell. Although he is still a raw talent offensively, his defense is what we will need to praise throughout the season. Man-oh-man can this guy play defense. With his long wingspan and incredible athleticism, he’s a huge component of the Duck’s defensive game plane. Jordan has the ability to get from spot to spot on defensive in a matter of milliseconds, making it extremely difficult for guards to penetrate inside and get to the basket as he’ll easily swat their shots into the stands.
Another piece to this confusing puzzle is 6’7″ Forward Dwayne Benjamin. Dwayne offers a unique set of talents offensively. Although he’s only 6’7″, a height that could easily be looked at as small forward in the N.B.A., he will be playing a majority of his minutes at power forward. His shooting ability is above average, but what makes him lethal is his ability to get to the basket and dunk. Dwayne is a monster athletically, so finishing at the rim shouldn’t be a problem. His ability to see the court and find the open cutter is also a strong portion of his game, so look for a lot of movement off the ball by guards when Dwayne’s got the ball.
Next from the forwards is 6’6″ Forward Dillon Brooks. Dillon is a special player, because no matter what position coach classifies him, Dillon will execute at a high level. Brooks brings a lot of energy to the team, and energy is going to be huge with such a small line-up. Dillon offers a wide variety of abilities from handling the ball fairly well, to attacking the basket with force and determination. He can stroke it occasionally as well, but don’t rely on Brooks to be hitting jump shots at a high level on a consistent basis. When he’s hot, he’s hot, but when he’s not, then he finds other ways to impact the game, especially defensively.
What’s nice about the Oregon forwards is that they have the capability to hang with the best of them. If they can beat their opponents with their quickness, they’ll have a chance at winning every ball game. It all depends on their energy level every night. As we saw from him last season, we can count on 6’6″ veteran forward Elgin Cook to bring his energy every night. Elgin by far offers the most athleticism and raw talent on the team. In fact, Elgin is probably has the most N.B.A. potential based strictly off his athletic ability. He’s worked on his shot over the off-season as well, so be sure to look for him to start to hit his mid-range fairly often. His game is still very raw, but he’ll get better as the season goes along, especially if he’s starting. Elgin is a huge component of this team, and he’ll need to be a vocal leader as one of the few veterans on the squad.
The final forward on this team is the transfer, 6’6″ Tim Jensen. Unlike the other forwards, Tim isn’t as athletic. However, he brings a lot of knowledge to the team in terms of footwork, spacing, and simply understanding the game at a high level. Jensen can score from anywhere, and can find his spots inside as well. His unique set of offensive moves can really benefit the Ducks — if not on the court, then off the court by working with the raw athletes who will most likely see the time to perform. Tim will be an important piece to the team in making sure the guys don’t get too rattled when things aren’t going well, as he is very experienced in the game of basketball.
So that’s it for the forwards. Next time we’ll cover the guard play and how important their ability to see up the court will be in executing in this year’s offense. But for now, let’s play ball!
Top photo by Craig Strobeck