Can Oregon recapture last season's success?
While Oregon lost four seniors from the team that made a run in last year's NCAA tournament, the No. 19 Ducks added a couple of playmakers in guard Joseph Young, a junior transfer from Houston who averaged 18 points per game last season, and forward Mike Moser, a native Oregonian who played last year for UNLV.
They'll join sophomore standouts Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, as well as senior guard Johnathan Loyd, who was named the most outstanding player of last season's Pac-12 tournament.
''Once we come together, I think we'll be better than last year. We have lots of solid athletes from top to bottom,'' Loyd said. ''Our presses will be effective and our transition offense is improving. Coach will figure out the best game plan for us and we'll just go play ball.''
Oregon wrapped up its 28-9 season with a 77-69 loss to Louisville in the NCAA's round of 16. The finish was something of a surprise after the Ducks were initially picked to finish seventh in the Pac-12.
Oregon opened 18-2 last season and rose to No. 10 in the AP poll, then took a share of second place in the league's regular season standings before defeating UCLA in the conference tournament final to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
As the No. 12 seed in the Midwest Region, the Ducks beat fifth-seeded Oklahoma State and fourth-seeded St. Louis, setting up the game against the Cardinals in Indianapolis. Oregon became the first No. 12 seed to advance to the round of 16 since Richmond in 2010.
It was the deepest Oregon had gone in the NCAA tournament since 2007.
This season the Ducks have been picked to finish fourth in the strong Pac-12, behind No. 6 Arizona, No. 22 UCLA and Colorado.
''We've been working hard since the first day of practice. I've seen a lot of good things and things that can get better. We need to communicate better on defense, but if we stay like a family we'll be pretty good.'' Young said.
Here are five things to look for this season for the Oregon Ducks.
YOUNG APPROVED: The Ducks requested a waiver that would allow Young to play immediately rather than sit out a season, which was granted by the NCAA earlier this month. The talented shooter transferred after his dad, the director of basketball operations, was asked to take a lesser position at Houston. Both father and son decided to leave the Cougars.
MOSER'S HOMECOMING: Moser, who went to Portland's Grant High School, averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds at UNLV as a sophomore but was hampered by injury as a junior. The 6-foot-8 forward completed a final course for his undergraduate degree at UNLV, clearing the way for him to play this season. He is expected to fill the void left by the departure of Arsalan Kazemi.
ALTMAN'S LEADERSHIP: The Ducks have steadily improved in each of Dana Altman's past three seasons as coach. Oregon finished 21-18 and won the postseason CBI tournament his first season, then finished 24-10 and went on to the quarterfinals of the NIT. The climb continued with last year's run in the NCAA tournament.
NOW THAT'S AN AWAY GAME: Oregon will open the regular season against Georgetown on Nov. 8 in the 2013 Armed Forces Classic. The game will be played at Camp Humphreys, a U.S. Army base in South Korea. The game is part of ESPN's Veteran's Week to honor the men and women of the U.S. military. ''Our guys are fortunate. They get to go to this university and play collegiate basketball, but there are young men making sacrifices and young ladies making sacrifices,'' Altman said at Pac-12 media day. ''So it's our way of saying a small thank you to the service that they give our country.''
A COUPLE OF OTHER GAMES TO CIRCLE: The Ducks play 19 games against teams that advanced to the postseason a year ago, including nonconference games against the Hoyas, Illinois, Mississippi and Pacific. The Ducks visit Ole Miss on Dec. 8 for their first ever meeting before playing the Fighting Illini at Portland's Moda Center - formerly the Rose Garden - on Dec. 14. The Pac-12 season opens Jan. 2 at Utah.