Pac-12 Team Previews: OregonPosted by Connor Pelton on October 31st, 2011
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.
Strengths. The Ducks return six players from last season’s CBI Championship team, including starters E.J. Singler, Tyrone Nared, and Garrett Sim. Oregon’s depth in the backcourt will only be rivaled by a few other teams in the conference as they feel comfortable with four out of the six guards on the roster ready to contribute immediately. Leading that group is the aforementioned Sim and true freshman Jabari Brown, who spurned offers from Washington and Connecticut (among others) to come to Eugene. The second group features sophomore Johnathan Loyd and freshman Bruce Barron, who turned down Washington and Oklahoma State to join Brown with the Ducks. The foul out/garbage time guy will be Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph, who will be eligible beginning on Dec. 10 when the Ducks host Fresno State. Joseph put up very solid numbers with the Golden Gophers before transferring midway through the year, but with the talent and depth already in place, he will have trouble finding meaningful minutes. In the frontcourt are two returning starters who still haven’t completely lived up to their potential, Singler and Nared. If both guys, Singler especially, can build on the strong finishes they had during the CBI last year, it could be the difference between an NCAA berth and the NIT.
Weaknesses. Scoring and rebounding in the paint will be tough for the Ducks early on as they look for a replacement for do-everything forward Joevan Catron (15.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG). Senior Jeremy Jacob will be asked to step in for Catron, but a lingering knee injury could hold him from a breakout year. For any team, but especially a young one like the Ducks have, the nonconference schedule is incredibly tough. The Ducks will travel to Vanderbilt and Nebraska and also have a quasi-neutral site matchup against BYU in Salt Lake City.
Nonconference Tests. Oregon plays 12 nonconference games, and a 10-2 record in those would be a great accomplishment. Oregon’s four tests will be against Vanderbilt (Nov. 11, Nashville), Nebraska (Nov. 23, Lincoln), BYU (Dec. 3, Salt Lake City), and Virginia (Dec. 18, Eugene). If Oregon gets out of that stretch with a 2-2 record, things will be looking up going into conference play. They should roll through the rest of their schedule, though, with a Nov. 29 meeting versus UTEP at Matthew Knight Arena being the toughest game remaining on the slate.
Toughest Conference Stretch. The first four games of conference play will be against Washington State in Spokane, Washington in Seattle, and the Bay Area schools in Eugene. If Oregon can get out of that stretch 2-2, the schedule begins to lighten up and will give them a great chance to finish in the top half of the conference.
If Everything Goes Right… Oregon finishes the regular season with 20 wins and is fourth in the Pac-12 race. Jabari Brown beats out Josiah Turner for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Oregon knocks off Vanderbilt to open the season, and the Ducks win their “First Four” game in the NCAA Tournament before being bounced in the second round.
If Nothing Goes Right… The Ducks regress after a solid first year under coach Dana Altman. They pull a couple of nonconference upsets but the team falls apart in January. Oregon is able to pull a return bid to the CBI but is eliminated in the first round.
Projected Starting Lineup
- SG Garrett Sim (Sr, 6’2″, 185 lbs, 8.2 PPG, 2.0 APG)
- SG Jabari Brown (Fr, 6’4″, 200 lbs)
- SF E.J. Singler (Jr, 6’6″, 210 lbs, 11.7 PPG, 1.6 APG)
- C Tyrone Nared (Sr, 6’8″, 210 lbs, 5.1 PPG, 0.3 APG)
- PF Jeremy Jacob (Sr, 6’8″, 226 lbs, 6.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG)
Like I said in the opening, this Duck offense will be led by Sim and Brown. Both are technically shooting guards, but they are also capable of playing the point. E.J. Singler is a solid option down low, but Jacob and Nared need to step up their games to provide balance in the Oregon attack.
Impact Newcomer. Jabari Brown – The concern when hiring Altman in the place of Ernie Kent was that there would be a dropoff in recruiting. Well, Altman brought in three tremendous guards, including Brown, who will be asked to contribute immediately.
- G Johnathan Loyd (So, 5’8″, 160 lbs, 4.7 PPG, 2.1 APG)
- PG Bruce Barron (Fr, 6’3″, 200 lbs)
- PF Olu Ashaolu (Sr, 6’7″, 220 lbs, 14.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG at Louisiana Tech last year)
- C Tony Woods (Jr, 6’11”, 250 lbs, 4.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG at Wake Forest in 2009-10)
- PF Carlos Emory (Jr, 6’7″, 225 lbs, 16.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG at Howard last year)
The interesting guys in this bunch are power forward transfers Ashaolu and Emory. Both had great seasons against lesser competition last year and they will be expected to contribute immediately off the bench against better opponents while at Oregon. Bruce Barron was Altman’s second big recruit and will also see significant minutes early in the year. Loyd is the other reserve guard and he needs to show signs of improvement this year if he wants to see the court.