As good as our sturdy Golden Bears looked last game, make no mistake; the mountain just got a whole lot steeper.
In a shameless bid to become known as "Mercenary U," Oregon has re-loaded the past few seasons by bringing in as many transfers as their breadcrumbs could lure. Last year, it was eight newcomers. This year, it was nine.
That being said, Coach Dana Altman is no slouch. He's been able to blend transfers, veterans, and a couple of precocious youngsters into yet another deep, talented team that's arguably more dangerous than last year's squad which went to the Sweet 16.
Last year, frosh Dominic Artis was their only consistent threat from deep. When he went down with injury, it de-railed their conference title run. This year, they're 11th in the country in 3FG% at 41.7% and have five different players who are legitimate shooters. Although Artis and reserve Ben Carter were suspended for the first nine games for illegally selling shoes, the Ducks didn't miss a beat en route to a perfect 12-0 start before falling to Colorado on the road.
Oregon gets it done by attacking on both ends of the floor. They use their depth to trap and press in order to fuel their transition game with forced turnovers. On offense, they'll push the tempo and like to attack with four out in order to open up cutting lanes to the basket. They're #1 nationally in scoring per game and #3 nationally in field goal percentage. Although they shoot efficiently from deep, they actually generate the bulk of their points inside the arc.
If there's a drop-off from last year, it's due to a loss of size. They're not nearly as strong on the boards without Arslan Kazemi, and miss Tony Woods' shot-blocking ability. However, they're still very dangerous on the offensive glass because of the athleticism of their wing players.
It's another tough one from both a depth and match-up standpoint if Bird and Kreklow are still out. But the Ducks are far from invulnerable. They've been taken to overtime three times already by lesser ranked opponent and faltered for the first time last weekend against the Buffs. For some reason, Oregon seems to bring the best out of Cal and Justin Cobbs. If we can keep it close, can he shoot them down again?
F Mike Moser(Sr), 6'8, 211 lbs, 13.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg
F Richard Amardi(Sr), 6'8, 224 lbs, 7.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg
G Damyean Dotson(So), 6'5, 209 lbs, 11.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg
G Joseph Young(Jr), 6'2, 185 lbs, 19.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg
G Johnathan Loyd(Sr), 5'8, 163 lbs, 9.4 ppg, 6.4 apg
G Jason Calliste(Sr), 6'2, 171 lbs, 11.5 ppg, 2.2 apg
G Dominic Artis(So), 6'1, 186 lbs, 6.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg,
F Elgin Cook(So), 6'6, 206 lbs, 9.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg
F Waverly Austin(Sr), 6'11, 257 lbs, 2.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg
You might remember Mike Moser from when he played for UNLV. He's a high-motor athlete who is known for being a terror on the offensive glass. His mid-range jumper is still a bit awkward, but he's really improved his stroke from downtown. Richard Amardi is a JC transfer from Canada who platoons with veteran Waverly Austin as their lone post presence. Joseph Young was an all-conference honoree at Houston before bringing his talents to Eugene. He's an incredibly dangerous offensive player who can beat you from deep or off the dribble. He's really taken advantage of the new defensive rules and has shown a knack for drawing fouls to get himself to the line. Dotson was a solid player as a frosh last year and has stepped up his game as another athletic slasher off the wing. Johnathan Loyd was a bit of a stopgap and defensive pest last year who couldn't score. This year, he's filled in admirably for the suspended Dominic Artis by leading the conference in assists. Calliste and Cook are both JC transfers who bring three point shooting and wing scoring off the bench. Artis is still rounding into form after sitting out the first nine games. However, he was a dynamic talent as a true frosh capable of putting up big numbers in a hurry.
Unlike playing on the Farm, this is an actual hostile road environment with real opposing fans. Coupled with the Duck's breakneck pace and their press, it's easy to get rattled or to start playing faster than you should. Cobbs should be fine, but our young guys will need to be smart with the ball. Veteran Jeff Powers' emergence as a contributor off the bench could be key here as a steadying influence.
The Ducks like to push it after made baskets and have a very strong dribble-drive game from a variety of different players. Avoiding foul trouble starts with being in position. That means running back on D and being sharp with our defensive rotations.
3) Win the mis-match battle
The Ducks want to play small ball, while our best five includes two bigs. Because Solomon and Kravish will have an advantage inside, don't expect the Ducks to play them straight up. We need to be ready for quick, aggressive double-teams whenever our bigs get touches in the post and then make them pay with good ball movement. On defense, our front court may find themselves chasing a smaller, quicker player. We'll need to be careful with our close-outs; the Ducks prefer to attack the rim and thrive on getting to the line. Monty had a lot of success last game buying bench minutes by putting Powers at the top of a 3-2 zone while using Solo and Kravish's length to cover the baseline.
Tip-Off: 8 pm
Television: Fox Sports 1
Radio: KGO 810 AM