Pac-12 Team Preview: Oregon DucksPosted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 4th, 2013
We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.
Strengths. The talent that Dana Altman has assembled in the post can compete with anyone in the Pac-12. Headlining that frontcourt is UNLV transfer Mike Moser, who just might be the biggest one-year pickup in the country this season. Moser is the fifth senior to transfer into Altman’s program in the past three years, and he brings star power, quickness and explosiveness as a face-up four along with him. Starting at small forward will be Northwest Florida State transfer Elgin Cook. Cook is replacing the do-everything E.J. Singler, and he provides a varied skill set that gives point guard Dominic Artis a lot of options. Finally, there’s forward/center Ben Carter. Carter may be the least talented of the trio at the start of the year, but he is highly-valued in Eugene as the designated “hustle player,” much like Arsalan Kazemi last season.
Weaknesses. As good as those above three will be in the post, the depth behind them is incredibly thin. With a solid one-two punch at the one and two and talent at small and power forward, the backups in the frontcourt could be the thing that drops this team from a top two Pac-12 finish to in the top four. Senior Richard Armadi has the body of a center but will have to play at the four, and sometimes even the three, because of the lack of depth. Armadi has some raw talent but it may be tough to display in a new role. And that’s the highlight of the second-string forwards and centers. Junior Jalil Abdul-Bassit and redshirt freshman Arik Armstead will also see time in the post, but only when needed.
Non-Conference Tests. All of Oregon’s acquired talent will be on full display on opening night in a made-for-ESPN tilt with Georgetown from Camp Humphreys, South Korea. Things ease up a bit after that, but a four-game stretch in mid-December may be one of the toughest in the Pac. Oregon goes to Mississippi, then meets Illinois in Portland before finishing the stretch by hosting a pair of likely NCAA Tournament teams, UC Irvine and BYU.
Toughest Conference Stretch. Altman’s team’s final four games before the team embarks for the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas will not only be entertaining to watch, but will have all sorts of implications for conference and NCAA Tournament seeding. The run starts with a game at UCLA on the penultimate day of February, and then the Ducks will face USC two days later. They return home three days later to host Arizona State, and the regular season closes with a Saturday match-up against Arizona. Three of the four games will be played on ESPN, Fox Sports 1, and CBS, so the entire nation will see some quality Pac-12 hoops to start March off right. If Oregon wins three or even sweeps the stretch, it will undoubtedly avoid the first round game in Vegas.
If Everything Goes Right… Moser and Cook prove to be just as good as advertised, and Artis and Damyean Dotson replicate their terrific freshman seasons to provide balance to the offense. The Ducks blow out the Hoyas in Asia, and national writers back in the States jump on the Oregon bandwagon before opening day is even finished. They enter Pac-12 play at 11-1 and are 18-3 and atop the conference when they meet second place Arizona in Tucson on February 6. The teams switch places in the standings after a Cats’ win in overtime, and that’s where the teams stay for the remainder of the month. Oregon is named a three seed for the Big Dance, but this time, it’s the Ducks that are getting shocked in March. After a non-conference schedule consisting of teams like Arizona, Michigan and Creighton, Dan Monson‘s 14th-seeded Long Beach State is not at all intimated by the Ducks. Forty minutes later the Ducks are one-and-done and on a plane back home.
If Nothing Goes Right… The team oozes with talent, but with no leader willing to step up, the Ducks struggle through their non-conference slate. Altman begins to lose his team after a double-digit home defeat against UCLA and a shocking upset by USC two nights later. The ship gets righted enough for a four seed in the NIT, but overall this is a failure of a season.
Projected Starting Lineup
- PG Dominic Artis (So, 6’1″ 186 lbs, 8.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, 93.8 ORtg)
- SG Damyean Dotson (So, 6’5″ 209 lbs, 11.4 PPG, 0.9 APG)
- SF Elgin Cook (So, 6’6” 206 lbs, 14.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG in 2012-13 at Northwest Florida State)
- PF Mike Moser (Sr, 6’8″ 211 lbs, 7.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG in 2012-13 at UNLV)
- F/C Ben Carter (So, 6’8″ 220, 2.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.4 BPG in 10.4 MPG)
If Carter provides a rebounding force inside, the argument could be made that this is one of the top offenses in the league. Of course, talent has never been the question.; how well and how soon they start playing as a unit is the only question mark.
- PG Johnathan Loyd (Sr, 5’8″ 165 lbs, 5.0 PPG, 2.9 APG, 91.0 ORtg)
- SG Joseph Young (Jr, 6’3″ 185 lbs, 18.0 PPG, 2.5 APG in 2012-13 at Houston)
- SF Jalil Abdul-Bassit (Jr, 6’4” 185 lbs, 13.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG in 2012-13 at North Idaho)
- PF Richard Armadi (Sr, 6’9″ 215 lbs, Played 2012-13 at Indian Hills CC)
- C Waverly Austin (Sr, 6’11″ 270 lbs, 3.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.8 BPG in 11.0 MPG)
Loyd and Young are more than capable of replacing Artis and Dotson when called upon, but there are a lot of question marks in the post. Three upperclassmen are available, but production could be a problem, especially early as Abdul-Bassit and Armadi play their first games in Eugene. Austin played a bit more than Carter did at the five last season, but Carter should win the spot in preseason camp.