Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey Appears Poised to Break Out… AgainPosted by Mike Lemaire on January 5th, 2017
Last night in Washington, a 6’4” combo guard showed off a dizzying array of skills, set Twitter ablaze and almost certainly turned the heads of the numerous NBA scouts watching on ESPN2. In other news, the Huskies’ Markelle Fultz scored 22 points on 16 shots. Oregon sophomore Tyler Dorsey had, in the words of his coach Dana Altman, “one of those games,” unleashing a scoring flurry as good as any you will see in college basketball this season. With Dillon Brooks straddled with foul trouble in the second half and Washington threatening to hang around, Dorsey hit a three-pointer off a pass from Brooks and didn’t stop shooting until the game was over. When he was finished, he had made six consecutive buckets (five from downtown) in scoring 17 points in fewer than 12 minutes. His eight made three-pointers were three more than his career-high and his 28 points represented a career-high against a Power 5 opponent. But it wasn’t just the sheer number of three-pointers that made Dorsey’s performance so impressive last night, it was the variety in which he got those points that was notable.
Dorsey wasn’t just camping on the perimeter waiting for a kick-out pass. He was swishing shots in transition, pulling up effortlessly off the dribble and putting on a catch-and-shoot clinic. No stranger to 20-point games during his collegiate career, Dorsey looked as confident as ever in his touch last night. You’d be hard-pressed to find one of his second-half shots that even hit the rim. The question now becomes whether his performance against a lackluster Washington defense is a sign of things to come for the Los Angeles native, or just another tantalizing tease of his vast offensive potential. Remember that this was supposed to be a breakout season for the sophomore, the kind of emergence capable of making an already elite Ducks’ offense completely unstoppable. Oregon is still waiting for that breakout.
Dorsey’s decision to return to Eugene after tentatively dipping his feet in the NBA Draft pool meant that with added strength and improved ball-handling, he would turn into a strong Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate and possible All-American. We pegged Dorsey as a second-team All-Pac-12 performer before the season, stating that the “sky was the limit” for his game. Instead he has been basically been the same very good player he was last season. He struggled with his shot early this season and has somewhat surprisingly regressed at the free throw line, but even the advanced statistics reveal only slight upticks in Offensive Rating, shooting and taking care of the ball. He has improved, but he hasn’t exploded.
Given his combination of size, athleticism and shooting ability, Oregon is waiting for nights like he produced against Washington to come with greater regularity. When he plays that well, the Ducks become a different and much more dangerous team offensively. One area that has held Oregon’s offense back this season has been its team-wide struggle in shooting from behind the arc (34.0%), where it ranks 210th nationally. Altman said after the game that his team doesn’t generally shoot that well from three-point range, allowing Dorsey’s marksmanship to “really pop the game open.” Oregon needs the sophomore’s game to pop like that more often. There is no other player on Altman’s roster with the skill set to do what Dorsey did to the Huskies last night. If the win over the rival Huskies turns out to be a turning point for him this season rather than just an aberration, the rest of the Pac-12 better take cover.