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.
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