The Oregon Men’s Basketball team is bringing back plenty of returning talent for the upcoming season. However, if there is one thing we know about Dana Altman, it is that he is always looking for ways to improve his roster, particularly with experience, and this off season has been no different.
The Ducks once again will bring in a graduate transfer to help stem the tide from the loss of three seniors. The latest is 6’2 guard Amauri Hardy from UNLV. This brings the Oregon roster to three seniors in Hardy, Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi (another transfer who I will have an article on in the coming weeks).
Hardy, who averaged 14.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists last season, will bring toughness, experience and ball handling for this Ducks squad. He will come in and compete for the starting spot vacated by outgoing senior Payton Pritchard. He will obviously not be able to match the production provided by Pritchard, but he will not be asked to. What Hardy can do is provide a strong secondary role which will open up other players to be primary scorers.
While Hardy doesn’t necessarily excel in any one area, he is more than capable of being successful in multiple facets of the game. Last season, Hardy made 63 threes while shooting 33.3% from behind the arc. While that percentage will certainly need to improve, it shows that he is capable of making those shots.
At UNLV, Hardy was asked to create most of his shots on his own, thus leading to more contested shots, and a lower percentage. At Oregon, he will have more talent around him, which will allow for more space, more catch and shoot threes and more consistency from behind the three point line.
Hardy is also solid in the pick-and-roll game. He is able to get to his spots, and from there he can create for himself or others. He is also a very crafty finisher around the rim, similar to Will Richardson, in that he can contort his body and use multiple different angles to finish around bigger defenders.
The addition of Hardy does seem slightly strange given the make up of the current roster. As it stands now, the Ducks already have Richardson, Duarte, Eric Williams Jr., Addison Patterson and Jalen Terry who can all play the wing and guard positions. I believe there are two main reasons for bringing in Hardy.
One, he can provide leadership to a relatively young team. The Ducks lose possibly their two most vocal leaders in Pritchard and Francis Okoro, who elected to transfer to Saint Louis earlier this Spring. And two, Hardy can be the secondary ball handler who can play point guard, so the Ducks will not always have to rely on a true freshman in Terry. This will allow players like Richardson to play off the ball and be more effective scorers.
I think a recent Oregon comparison could be Jason Calliste, a fellow grad transfer in the Dana Altman era. Calliste, who shot 36% from three the season before transferring to Oregon, shot over 50% from behind the arc for the Ducks. I can see Hardy making a similar jump.
With the addition of Hardy and the loss of Okoro, I would expect the Ducks to play a lot of small ball next season. With N’Faly Dante being the only true center on the roster, I would look for Altman to employ multiple different four guard lineups, which will allow them to exploit mismatches on the offensive end.
This is very similar to how the Ducks found success the 2016-2017 season when they played in the Final Four. The Ducks had found the most success when playing with one true post, either Jordan Bell or Chris Boucher, and letting the wings create around them. The current team certainly has a way to go to be Final Four caliber, but the roster make up is much of the same.
All in all, I believe Hardy will prove to be a solid and important addition for the Ducks. Teams can never have too much experience or depth, and he provides both. He won’t be expected to be the star of the team, just a consistent contributor on what very well could be another PAC-12 Championship team.
Coach Alex Nordstrand
Top Photo From Eugene Johnson
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.
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