W. Oregon-Oregon Preview
EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon has not lived up to its hype.
The Ducks were picked to win the NCAA basketball title by Sports Illustrated and ranked No. 5 in the nation by one major poll, but have fallen to No. 23 after a pair of early-season losses.
"I think we are still getting it," senior guard Dylan Ennis said. "Because we were ranked No. 5 to start the season, everyone expected us to be this monster team and we are still learning what to do. It is a new team with a lot of new guys meshing in. We will get it. Last year, we had a few growing pains and at the end of the year we got it right, so I think that will happen again this year."
Oregon (5-2) has won three straight games heading into a matchup with Division II Western Oregon (3-3) on Wednesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
Oregon's preseason hype was based on returning four starters from last year when the Ducks reached the Elite Eight before losing to Oklahoma. However, preseason All-American Dillon Brooks missed the first three games of the season following foot surgery and is coming off the bench to average 9.8 points in his first four games back.
The 6-foot-7 junior was 1-for-9 from the field in a 68-63 win over Boise State on Monday while scoring five points in 21 minutes.
"He was sped up and had a bad game," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "He was trying too hard and going too fast and had a tough night. We know he is a good player, we have seen it the last two years. He has to slow down."
Ennis, a senior transfer from Villanova who missed all but two games last season due to foot surgery, has picked up his play in recent weeks, scoring a team-high 18 points against Boise State after scoring 15 in the previous win over Connecticut. He had 39 points in his first five games.
"Coach talked to me as one of the leaders of this team and told me to relax," he said. "I was really giddy the first couple games back. I needed to relax and play my game and coach kept confidence in me."
Guard Tyler Dorsey has also played better lately with a team-high 19 points against UConn followed by 17 against Boise State. Dorsey had four straight games scoring in single digits before combining to go 13-for-23 from the field and 6-of-13 on three-pointers in the last two games.
Oregon is in the middle of a nine-game stretch of games in its home state that includes the final seven nonconference games before opening Pac-12 play against UCLA and USC in Eugene.
"We've just got to win, at the end of the day that is the biggest thing," junior guard Casey Benson said. "We have to take care of business at home. These nonconference games are just as big so we need to step up and get some wins."
Western Oregon is led by guard Ali Faruq-Bey with 13.7 points per game while forward Tanner Omlid averages 12.8 points and 7.7 rebounds.