(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!)
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.
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.
Top photo credit: Eugene Johnson
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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