Dana Altman’s Latest Motley Crew Looks Promising

Darren Perkins Editorials 40 Comments

(Update added late last night: Oregon didn’t look overly impressive in a laboring win against a badly-overmatched Eastern Washington last night. But, this is what Oregon basketball is — a continually evolving process that ultimately always ends in success. See you in March!)

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Another year and another “Who the heck are these guys?” for Oregon basketball.

As I took in my first Oregon game of the season against Seton Hall last Friday, I found myself pulling out my laptop (needed more firepower than just a phone) and going to goducks.com and espn.com to try to figure out who these guys are.

Every year there are new faces for the Ducks, but this year there seem to be more than usual.

Sure, I read the headlines in the offseason about the Ducks picking up a transfer here and a recruit there. But then just like that, the season starts and I suddenly find myself doing my best Beavis and Butt-Head impersonation, “Uh-huh huh huh, uh-huh huh huh, uh…. Who the hell are these guys?

Hey, players aren’t the only ones who need practice — sometimes as fans, we need practice, too.

I recognized Chris Duarte, Chandler Lawson, and N’Faly Dante but then I was stuck. I was looking for Will Richardson but apparently, he is out six weeks with an injury.

Tom Corno

Hey I know that guy!” Chris Duarte is one the few familiar faces on this year’s Ducks.

So, out of the eight players who played, I only recognized three. Here are the five who were new to me:

Eric Williams Jr. (Junior, Forward): Played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Duquesne University where he averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Eugene Omoruyi (Senior, Forward): Senior transfer from Rutgers, as a junior (2018-19), named honorable mention All-Big Ten. Averaged a team-high 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Amauri Hardy (Senior, Guard): Transfer from UNLV where he earned third-team all-Mountain West Conference honors. Averaged 14.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game as a junior for UNLV in 2019-20.

LJ Figueroa (Senior, Guard): As a junior (2019-20), led St. John’s in scoring the team at 14.5 points per game (12th in the Big East)

Jalen Terry (Frosh, Guard): Four-star guard who was a Michigan Mr. Basketball finalist averaged 20.4 points, 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game to guide Beecher High School (Mount Morris, Mich.) to a 20-2 record as a senior in 2019-20.

On top of these five newbies, ya throw in Richardson (when healthy), Dante, Duarte and Lawson, and that will be the Ducks’ standard eight to nine-man rotation.

Omoruyi impressed me with his ability to fill up the basket with his smooth as silk outside shooting to lead the Ducks in scoring in their first two games. Figueroa brought good energy, leadership, and defensive enthusiasm in his one game against Seton Hall.

With Oregon football leaving us feeling blue, I felt a sense of relief watching Oregon beat Seton Hall in hoops. You can see the pieces are there for success, and as we’ve come to appreciate under Dana Altman, his teams always seem to get better as the season goes on, generally peaking in March.

In other words, peaking at just the right time.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, Washington
Top photo credit: Eugene Johnson

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CJ

As with many seasons past the x factor resides with whether Altman can get production out of his big man. Altman gets unbelievable production out of 6′-6’8″ fast athletic players but really seems to struggle with coaching up big guys.

So far Dante is proving this case as his first game as a freshman was his best and since then he struggles to even stay on the floor logging very few minutes. It’s a head scratcher for sure.

Jon Joseph

Michigan has officially called off the game at Ohio State.

30Duck

Unlike the Pac-12 who can’t see their way to look in to the future and see a way to let a possibly undefeated Colorado play in the conference championship game, the B1G is bending over backwards to make the best case for getting Ohio State to the “Invitational”, even if they don’t play in the B1G championship game.

Jeremiah Geiger

Harbaugh ruins Ohio State’s playoff hopes…without a down being played on the gridiron.

ptdduck

This is a fun team to watch. LJ, Eugene, and Williams provide a ton of East coast toughness. Throw in a healthy Richardson and you have arguably the best team in the conference. If Dante can hit the boards, block shots and play hard every possession, this team will be unstoppable. Altman must be ecstatic.

PittDuck

Thanks Darren, nice article. With FB struggling, MBB definitely has potential to soothe the Duck fix. However, if you want to pay attention to the next Oregon dynasty WBB is where it is at!

These Lady Ducks have definitely reloaded and are poised to repeat as PAC 12 Champions and make a deep run! After losing 3 to the first round of the WNBA draft, these Lady Ducks might even be better than last year!

30Duck

The Ducks are more likely to score with under a minute to go in the first half from 70 yards away than the Huskies are in the Red Zone. You have to look fast!

A new look at, “The Pick”

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Hardy is improving rapidly as a point guard in Altman’s system, as he had three spectacular penetration and dishes for dunks three times in the first half last night. And that freshman Terry, showed his wheels with a baseline-to-baseline drive before half and got it done with less than four seconds left!

A ton of talent here, and again–thanks Darren!

Jon Joseph

OT – Stewart Mandel’s latest bowl projections for Pac-12 teams,

Fiesta Bowl – USC vs Indiana – Grey, grey beards may be able to recall (?)SC playing Indiana in a Rose Bowl game when OJ was a senior at SC. SC won a low scoring game with OJ, surprisingly, being used mostly as a decoy.

Independence Bowl – UW vs Army (Army has already accepted a bid to this game.)

Alamo Bowl – CU (Who Knew!) vs, Iowa State (IMO, if IA ST is defeated in the B12 champ game by OK in a competitive game, the Cyclones and not SEC team #4, UGA, should play in a NY6 Bowl. But hey, let’s just print some more playoff $ for the SEC!)

Armed Forces Bowl – Oregon vs Kentucky – This game will be played 12/31/20 in Fort Worth, TX. Chance to see old friend Terry Wilson?

BTW: SC took care of turn over prone WSU Sunday night. But on 13 carries the SC O totaled 14 yards on the ground. The SC O line is a mess. Slovis was banged around by the WSU D and UCLA has 18 sacks in 5 games. And, UCLA also has an effective run game.

SC -3.5 at UCLA? Hmmmmmmmmm? CU is -1,5 vs Utah.

UW can be beaten. And the Ducks certainly would not be overwhelmed in the Pac-12 champ game by SC or CU.

Keep the Fiesta Bowl faith!

David Marsh

Can’t blame Wilson for leaving… he was sitting behind Herbert. This would have been his first chance at Oregon to make a challenge for a starting spot.

Jon Joseph

David and Darren, this would be a good fall back bowl game in recruiting rich Texas.

I don’t believe anyone has been more suspect of the long range prospects for Mario et al, than I have been?

But I am not giving up on the Fiesta Bowl. The D played much better ball in Berkeley. We need the O and the D to match up in the next 2 games.

Going into game 5 and playing in Autzen, this should not be that big an ask? And as David so correctly noted, playing in a ‘flat earth conference,’ Glendale should be in view? (OK, I acknowledge that there are a few mountains and casinos in the line of sight.)

David Marsh

The Pac-12 is pretty flat this year… I say flat as there is no real hierarchy of teams. With the added uncertainty of never fully knowing which players will or will not be available for games it is really difficult to say which team is best. Would WSU have been beaten so badly by USC if they hadn’t been out of action since the Oregon game? How good is USC and Colorado as they missed playing each other?

If Oregon gets their act together and beats Washington then they are in the Pac-12 Championship game and at that point I think it’s anyone’s game. Other side note.. Oregon might actually have an edge with homefield advantage this weekend as Washington has NOT traveled to date. I think road games are deceptively difficult this year because of the weirdness that would come with having to follow COVID protocols while away from the normal routine. That is not a typical road game experience.

Jon Joseph

Really good points David. I’m waiting to see if the line will drop down from Ducks -4.5. If so, I may take Oregon and lay the points?

CU -1.5 vs Utah in Boulder is another interesting line. As is SC -3.5 at UCLA.

Stanford is -4 at OR ST and CAL -1.5 at Wazzu. ASU -9.5 at AZ. Lots of interesting potential plays in the conference this weekend.

A+M vs Ole Miss COVID cancelled..

Cincinnati at Tulsa COVID canceled. These 2 are scheduled to play the weekend of the 19th in the AAC champ game.

Indiana – Purdue COVID canceled, due to positive tests for Purdue. If Michigan is not good to go vs Ohio State, let’s see if the B1G does the smart thing and rearranges the deck chairs so that the Buckeyes get a game without having to re-match against Indiana?

Ohio State needs another data point and the B1G and CFB in general, needs Ohio State in the final 4.

The ACC canceled Clemson vs FSU and Notre Dame vs Wake this Saturday. Thus, these 2 can walk into the re-match champ game. This ‘gamesmanship’ trumps the usual SEC chicanery; Bama plays a postponed game at Arkansas Saturday and ditto LSU visiting Florida.

MAN, this Doc Soda Pop Invitational is a beyond belief scam.

Ohio State is left out and we are most likely to see 2 SEC and 2 ‘ACC’ (Notre Dame, cough, cough) teams playing for the 2020 title.

Jeremiah Geiger

And for the first time in what seems forever, Payton Pritchard is not on the floor for the Ducks.

ICamel

Ok, I have to confess! I officiated a number of basketball games when Danny Ainge was in grade school.

I knew from his play then that if he didn’t flame out that he was going to be a great basketball player. I write “flame out” because I knew a number of highly skilled grade school players that didn’t make the jump to high school and beyond.

Jon Joseph

Danny, a great baller and a great GM for my Celtics.

At BYU, he was a next generation Bob Cousy on the floor. And a heck of a businessman as the Celtics GM.

Notalot

Darren, you write fluid easy to read articles. Thank you.

This team has quickness and intensity which will benefit Altman’s trap press. Dante doesn’t look to be in game shape yet. Hardy has a high dribble away from his body, and in the small sample of games he’s played hard, but often out of control.

There’s a lot of promise for this team if they stay healthy and get the scheduled games in.

Haywarduck

Great article and indeed, Altman has his players come together which is a remarkable feat in todays look at me world.

Altman’s calm, cool demeanor, while having the underlying vision of what he wants to see guides our program like a true maestro.

Thanks for outlining a few of the new faces so we can better understand who Altman is putting together this season for an exciting run to, who knows!

Haywarduck

It is like Altman is a wizard at getting a team to come together and accept their roles. That first year was amazing and then he just keeps astounding most with his ability to do it again and again.

Jon Joseph

Thanks Darren. Always enjoy your takes.

“You can’t tell the players without a program!” This really helps us with getting to know the ‘new guys.’

One thing we can count on season after season, Dana Altman is going to get the best out of his team; young, old, newbies, vets, whatever.

The man is a gem.

Jon Joseph

This season’s tournament with all the games being played in Indianapolis, will be interesting. No hither and yon travel for the teams.

Considering the COVID financial hit, is a one tournament site the way to go in the future?

30Duck

69-52, the Ducks didn’t look as sharp against EWU, as they did against Seton Hall, some of that is probably due to EWU being better than Seton Hall. EWU is picked to win the Big Sky, and has two losses, each time by 3 points, to Arizona & WSU. This game also had the Ducks leading scorer, Eugene Omoruyi, riding the bench for most of the first half with 2 fouls.

He got back to business in the 2nd half though and finished with 18 points. Chandler Lawson had his best game so far, 8 points and 0 turnovers, Eric Williams, 17 points, 10 rebounds, LJ Figueroa 12 points, 10 rebounds. Chris Duarte is still having trouble without an established point guard, finishing with 3 points. But his defense is keeping him on the floor, 2 blocks. Dante too hasn’t really found his offense yet.

Jon Joseph

Love these Left Coast updates, 30! Thank you.

Games start too late on the Right Coast; especially, for a greybeard!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Williams sure has a sweet looking stroke on his threes. THANKS Darren, fun read.

bearlybalanced

This seasons group looks to be the most talented group of players we’ve had in a while.. of the transfers, they are ALL used to being THE GUY for their most recent teams and just need the gel-time as ducks to find their groove. I can’t believe Dante and Duarte look regressed and these other guys look Hungry!! It’s going to be a FUN year for Duck Hoops (M & W)

30Duck

That really is the case with Dante. In his first game with Oregon last season, he shined in every area. But since then he has regressed to what we are seeing now. He does, as you say need to focus on rebounding, and finishing at the rim. He needn’t worry, there are plenty of NBA players making millions, doing just that.

The loss of Pritchard, and subsequently, Richardson is definitely impacting the team. Altman’s teams get better as the season goes because it takes a while for all the intricacies to be worked out, to just do it, w/o thinking about it.

Without Richardson, the offense doesn’t have the initiator. fine. During pre-season drills, Richardson got the majority of reps at the point, as he should have. But with his injury, it’s up to Hardy & Terry to grasp the offense, play their games, and direct the team. Duarte seriously misses having a strong point guard to get him his shots, he excelled in the system. Now too often the offense is not structured. Omoruyi is good enough to get his, and Williams, Figueroa have found points. But it will be even better when the offense is working as it should.

Jon Joseph

In every endeavor in life, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

Beat UW!

Mudslide

Funny…that’s just what my wife said to me when I got tired of doing the dishes.

ICamel

“He nabbed an offensive rebound against Seton and then threw it down with authority. That’s his strength!” – As Bill Walton so frequently opines “just throw it down big fella”.

I’m waiting for Omoruyi to do the same! I have seen him dunk, but so often when he has a “bunny” the shot is a soft off the glass basket.

Jon Joseph

With what’s happening on the gridiron, I’m starting to feel like a Kansas fan.