Mens Basketball: Too Early to Prepare for Next Year?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

I am pretty surprised as many of you are, as I thought this might be one of the most talent-laden teams ever under Head Coach Dana Altman coming into this season. I really thought we had the talent and experience to have a shot at the Final Four, while now we aren’t even in the First Four for the NCAA Tournament. I’ll be turning to for some fun since this year’s Mens Basketball doesn’t have the same “juice” as prior years for me.

Losing to a team like Arizona State early in the season was uncomfortable, but I could spin it in my head a number of different ways. Losing to ASU and Cal late in February points to an incomplete team, without the necessary chemistry and the “Go-To” player needed in the clutch. Since I am not very well versed on the fundamentals of basketball, I am reluctant to make many more observations other than that I’m surprised and disappointed.

I always just had confidence in Dana getting the team to jell in time for the NCAA tournament. Now granted, some years it took a near miracle in sweeping through the Pac-12 tournament, but that would require three great superlative games in a row. We have not had that kind of consistency this year, and I just don’t see it occurring this time.

In fact, this is the first time I’ve noted a Dana Altman team not being ready by March 1st, and right now we are all grasping for the straws of the games versus the LA teams this weekend. Is it too early to prepare for next year? By that I mean we need to get Nate Bittle more minutes for game experience and to prevent a transfer prior to next season. His athleticism is so strong that he could play a stretch-four easily, and still give N’Faly Dante and Franck Kepnang minutes at the five-spot.

Nate Bittle has a ton more to show us…

Or we could rotate Isaac Johnson to receiving a third of the post minutes? And how about 20 minutes a game for Rivaldo Soares, since the veterans are not achieving this team’s potential–they lose some minutes. I grant you that our performance will not be as good giving those three more minutes, but will it really matter at this point?

I know many are saying that the recruiting class coming in next year will be superb, and the young-guns mentioned above can blend in with them. I say, “baloney,” as you will not achieve great things with a team made up primarily of freshmen. You need Bittle, Johnson and Soares to have a veteran’s confidence going into next year, and that only comes from more playing time.

A good argument could be made to fully “go-for-it” concerning this season, and while I understand that…I am now in the belief that making the tournament is a low-probability at this point. Of course these are the uninformed mutterings of an Oregon fan, but I could be dissuaded. Go-for-it, or go-for-youth?

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Eugene Johnson

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