Oregon Men’s Basketball Hitting the Reset Button… Again

Alex Nordstrand Editorials 12 Comments

The Oregon Men’s Basketball program ended their season just over a week ago, and as it always seems during the offseason, the Ducks are needing to find a few spring commitments to fill out next season’s roster. After yet another Sweet 16 run, Dana Altman is looking at a number of players leaving the program to pursue their goals at the next level, or transferring to find a better opportunity at another school. As it stands today, the Ducks are looking to add anywhere from 3-5 players between now and the beginning of next season.

Seniors Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi have already penned their goodbyes to Oregon, while fellow seniors Amauri Hardy and LJ Figueroa are expected to do the same. Combine that with the transfers of Chandler Lawson and Jalen Terry, Altman has his work cut out for him once again. Initially, the Ducks expected to have at least three players already committed and signed for the next season, Johnathan Lawson, Isaac Johnson and Nate Bittle.

However, currently, only one is a guarantee. Lawson, brother of Chandler and a member of this 2021 class, has asked and been granted a release from his National Letter of Intent to Oregon after his brother transferred from the school. Johnson, initially a member of the 2019 class, has been on a Mormon mission, and is expected to join the Ducks this summer, but has not been confirmed.

Eugene Johnson

Chris Duarte closed his senior season with the Ducks leaving a void for new talent.

So for now, the Ducks are diving deep into the transfer portal, which has over 1,200 players currently in it. By far the most ever at this time of year. In the past, Altman has had no problem reeling in impact transfers, and with so much talent potentially available right now, I would expect nothing less this time around.

It should be noted that assistant coach and ace recruiter, Tony Stubblefield, did agree to become the next head coach at DePaul. His recruiting prowess and coaching knowledge will be missed. He was in on a lot of top recruits for the Ducks, and it is said that he is a big reason for the consistently good defense the Ducks have played. No doubt Altman will find a good replacement, but he will want to do it fast to lockdown some of these high profile transfers.

With so much in flux, there has been one constant for next season, and that is the arrival of Bittle. Standing at six-foot-eleven, with a seven-foot-six wingspan, Bittle is a long, rangy player that is expected to make an impact right away for the Ducks. Even at his size, he is able to step out and shoot threes, which gives him a leg up in Altman’s system. Despite being on the skinnier side, he uses his natural length to go along with his effort and timing to be a good rebounder and shot blocker.

Though he isn’t the most athletic player in the world, he makes up for it by being a quick jumper, and his basketball IQ is very high. He knows how and when to either get in position for a put-back dunk, or time his jump for a blocked shot. Where he struggles is his overall athleticism and lateral quickness. He will struggle if he is asked to guard players on the perimeter, and it will be interesting to see how he fits into Altman’s defense. Or how Altman adjusts his defense to help hide some of those deficiencies.

Twitter_BruinReport

Nate Bittle was recruited heavily by the Bruins before deciding to come to Eugene.

Offensively he is still growing into his game. As I mentioned before, he is able to step outside and make the occasional three, and is a good finisher around the rim who looks to dunk the ball whenever he can. He is also a very capable passer, whether that is going post-to-post or kicking it out to a teammate for a three. Where I think he will do most of his damage early on is as a pick-and-pop player, and someone who will crash the boards hard for offensive rebounds and put-backs.

Overall, I do expect Bittle to come in right away and be a player that demands minutes. There may be an early adjustment period for him, but as he gets used to the speed and physicality of the game, he will start to come into his own. He is too talented, and plays too hard to be someone who doesn’t see minutes.

Though I do think they are different players, and the early production might not be the same, I would expect him to play a role similar to how Chris Boucher was used at Oregon. Bittle will be a shot blocker, rim runner, and someone who can stretch the defense from outside. He won’t be asked to post up much early on, but will still stuff the stat sheet with hustle plays. I am excited to see how he develops and continues to grow his game.

Next years Ducks are going to look a little different. With at least three players who would create a lineup rotation substantially larger than not only this past season’s Ducks, but the most height Altman has ever had while at Oregon, we should see an entirely different variety of production next season. There is no doubt this roster will still change and look much different before the season starts. But it is shaping up to be a team with a skill set we haven’t seen much at Oregon, and I am excited and interested how Altman will take advantage of this new size advantage.

Go Ducks!

Coach Alex Nordstrand
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo By Gary Breedlove

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Charles Fischer

Stunning New Hayward Field Video:
You will learn so much and with all I knew–I was blown-away at what is below Hayward field! See it right here….

Haywarduck

Unbelievable!

Tandaian

Jaz Shelley(So) and Taylor Chavez(JR) to transfer.

Charles Fischer

Such a shame, but they had their chance this year… I wish the best for them.

CJ

Losing the Lawson brothers I don’t think hurts us. I didn’t like seeing Jalen Terry leave though. I had a good feeling about him over the next couple years. My guess is he was home sick, so I bet he turns up somewhere within a few hundred miles of Flint Michigan next year (UofM or MSU?).

I don’t know enough about Stubblefield to understand how much of an impact he had on the game plan or recruiting, but I hope Coach Altman can find an exceptional replacement pronto.

I still see us being real strong if we can bring in a two guard and a sharp shooting small forward. My prediction for the season opening starting line-up:
PG – Will Richardson
SG – ? (possibly Aaron Estrada depending upon who Altman mine’s out of the portal)
SF – Eric Williams Jr.
PF – Nathan Bittle (probably wrong on this but I am hoping Altman takes the chance)
C – Franck Kepnang

Haywarduck

2020 we had the point guard, Bob Cousy winner, Payton Pritchard. This year we had the shooting guard, Jerry West winner, Chris Duarte. Next year will we have the Karl Malone or Kareem Adbul-Jabbar winner?

The level of those two players will be hard to replace. I mean we had the #1 shooting guard and #1 point guard, in the nation, two consecutive years, unprecedented!

I do agree replacing Stubblefield may be the toughest thing to do, but Altman has always been up to the task, any task.

Well done Dana and I look forward to the ingredients you put in green and yellow next season. The question is what will those ingredients become as the season progresses, should be fun to watch!

ICamel

Sean Miller fired at Arizona. Wonder what took them so long?
https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/31209814/sources-arizona-wildcats-fire-coach-sean-miller

IMHO………Chandler Lawson was an average basketball player.

Jon Sousa

The transfer portal has been a great way to reload for Altman for a few years. Kids transferring out is a problem.

I am wondering if the quality transfers in are not a major reason that people like Lawson is transferring out. Lawson was supposed to be an important cog in the wheel next year. Seeing that transfers in took the starting roles this year, was he afraid Altman might do the same for next year? Will starters always be brought in so that the home grown talent is always pushed down?

This is not me thinking. This is me wondering what they are thinking. Why do high school recruits come to Oregon? Isn’t it because they see that Oregon makes a perennial run in the prom? Isn’t because Dana Altman has the reputation of being one of the best coaches in basketball? Isn’t because several recent Ducks have and are making their mark in the NBA?

So why are they leaving an almost automatic trip to the Dance (Sweet 16), great coaches that can really teach you the game, and a good shot at making the NBA???

Is the portal helping or hurting in the long run??? How is the portal going to affect recruiting in the future? Will the SOP be to search for the best college junior and senior talent? or will our primary goal be to go after the best high school talent and bring them up?

What will be the perception of the freshmen and sophomores at UO over the next few years?

Charles Fischer

It seems that the new perspective is, “if I am not starting, then I’m transferring,” and that is not limited to Oregon since there is a record number of 1,200 in the portal. It is insane…

But they refuse to alter the rules about anything related to basketball, and thus “one-and-done” is no longer just referring to the NBA. This could ruin the college game, IMHO.

I do think the loss of Stubblefield is a big component in these transfers as well?

Santa Rosa Duck

I hope Dana can reload but I have some concerns this year. We are losing our two best players plus Lawson and incoming brother. Plus Stubblefield will hurt. We shall see.

Charles Fischer

Coach Nordy: do you think N’Faly Dante’ will transfer out?

ptdduck

If Dante can face and hit 3s, maybe we’ll see a twin towers rotation at times? Big Franck can play the alley oop guy / garbage man on offense and the weak side shot blocker on D. I also think he can play the tip of the spear on the press because he’s a freak athlete; Chandler Lawson manned that spot. Meanwhile, Dante can play in the deep post, the high post, or pop out on offense and play the post on D.

It’s rare to have this kind of size in college, so Altman has a dilemma in maxing them out. He’ll need to make some tweaks to his offense and defense to accommodate them both. If I had to choose one, it would be Big Franck because of his defensive prowess and his ability to impact the game without having to have the ball in his hands.