Now that Young is gone, Oregon looks to others for offense
Coach Dana Altman maintains that Oregon’s offense last season wasn’t all about Joe Young.
Young averaged 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season for the Ducks, and was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year as the league’s scoring leader. He has since moved on to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.
But Altman, named the league coach of the year after leading the team to a 26-10 overall record, pointed to senior transfer Dylan Ennis, top returning scorers Elgin Cook and Dillon Brooks, and top returning rebounder Dwayne Benjamin, as the remedy for Young’s departure.
”I think offensively we’ll be a balanced team with a number of guys who can score. We’re going to have to guard better. We’re going to have to do a better job on the boards. But I think offensively we’ve got a number of guys that can step up and score a basket,” Altman said at Pac-12 media day.
Altman was named the conference’s Coach of the Year after leading his team to its third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks beat Oklahoma State in their opening game before losing to Wisconsin for the second straight season.
Oregon’s conference nemesis last season was Arizona, which defeated the Ducks 80-52 for the Pac-12 tournament title, and won both regular-season games.
”I think since we have more returners, we kind of know what to expect, how to come into practice and what we need to be doing, what we need to accomplish, and it’s a lot more intense. All our guys are competing, and we just know how important every practice is,” said Cook, who averaged 13.0 points and 5.2 rebounds last season.
Things to watch this season:
REMEMBERING PEARL HARBOR: The Ducks will play a game against the U.S. Naval Academy at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day. The game is part of a series of events marking the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
”Our team had an opportunity two years ago to go to South Korea and play on an Army base, and I thought it meant a lot to our players. I know it meant a lot to our staff,” Altman said. ”So when the opportunity came up to go play on December 7th and observe that tragedy, I was all set to go.”
The game will be held at Bloch Arena, which survived the attack.
ENNIS IMPACT?: Ennis played a season at Rice before two seasons at Villanova, last season’s Big East champion.
Even though Young was a shooting guard, he ran Oregon’s offense last season. The 6-foot-2 Ennis is poised to take over that responsibility at point guard. Last season he averaged 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for the Wildcats.
OH CANADA: Brooks, who averaged 11.5 points per game for the Ducks last season, played this summer for his native Canada, both in the U19 FIBA World Championships, where he was the tournament’s second-leading scorer with 18.8 points, and then with the senior national team for the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
GIVING HOOPS ITS DUE: Oregon’s basketball team has been overshadowed in recent years by the success of the school’s football team, which went to the national championship game last season.
Altman said the Ducks are eager to elevate the status of basketball at Oregon, too. The process has already started with three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
”We just have to do our part: We have to grow, we have to play an exciting brand of basketball, we have to win. We’ve got to continue to get better,” Altman said. ”So we have challenges in front of us, but it’s our job – we have the resources. We have the facilities. We need to continue to get better.”
NO BELL: The Ducks will be without sophomore forward Jordan Bell for the start of the season. Bell, who set a school record with 94 blocks last season, needed surgery for a broken foot earlier this year and he hasn’t returned to full practice.
Bell led the conference last season with 2.69 blocks per game.