Ducks Sports Report

by Frank Baldwin October 15, 2015

Basketball 

Ducks picked 4th in Pac-12 men's basketball preseason media poll

The Oregon Ducks lost the Pac-12 player of the year.  The Pac-12 media seems to think that it won't slow the Ducks down. 

Despite the graduation of Joseph Young, who was taken in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers, the Ducks were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 men's basketball preseason media poll, released on Thursday. The Ducks received 338 points, behind Arizona (406), Cal (378) and Utah (360). This is the fourth straight year Arizona has been picked to win the conference. 

The Ducks were picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll last season, though a surprising Oregon team greatly exceeded expectations. Returning only three scholarship players, Oregon finished second in Pac-12 standings, second in the Pac-12 tournament and made the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season. 

And though Oregon loses out on Young, who was the fulcrum of the team's offense, the Ducks return six players from last year's roster including second leading scorer Elgin Cook (14.8 ppg) and talented sophomores Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell. Oregon also added the junior college player of the year in Chris Boucher and five-star freshman Tyler Dorsey. 

Below is the complete Pac-12 preseason media poll: 

  1. Arizona, 406 points
  2. Cal, 378
  3. Utah, 360
  4. Oregon, 338
  5. UCLA, 304
  6. Oregon State, 235
  7. Colorado, 188
  8. Arizona State, 165
  9. Stanford, 145
  10. USC, 111
  11. Washington, 96
  12. Washington State, 65

Outlook

 

History will remember the 2014-15 Oregon men’s basketball season for the accomplishments of Joseph Young – the Pac-12’s leading scorer and player of the year, whose clutch play was most memorably illustrated by his game-winning shot to beat Utah in the conference tournament semifinals.

Less than a month away from the start of the 2015-16 campaign, the Ducks are forging a new identity, one not so closely tied to a single player. And with more balance and depth could come even more success, as Oregon looks to make its fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and stick around longer than the first weekend for the first time in three years.

“We’ve got a lot more returners, a lot more experience,” said senior Elgin Cook, the team’s top returning scorer. “… It’s a different team from last year, but we play the same way. We plan on playing fast.”

On Thursday, Cook and UO coach Dana Altman were tapped to appear at conference media day, held at Pac-12 Studies in San Francisco. The preseason poll will be released, with Oregon expected to be a candidate to challenge Arizona for the conference title. Media day will be streamed live at pac-12.com/mediadaylive.

The Ducks, who went 26-10 last season and lost to Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 for the second straight year, open exhibition play against Northwest Christian in Matthew Knight Arena on Nov. 3. Their regular-season opener is Nov. 13 at home against Jackson State, and Baylor visits MKA three nights later.

That could be a telling indicator of where this season is headed for Oregon. The Ducks will be without shot-blocking sophomore Jordan Bell in the early part of the season as he recovers from injury; otherwise, this might be the best starting point for a UO team in Altman’s six seasons as head coach.

“The beginning of last year, we were more so trying to find a way,” Cook said of the 2014-15 Ducks, who returned only two significant contributors from the year before. “Now we know what coach wants. We know what to expect. We know we’ve got to come hard, and every game is going to come down to a few possessions.”

Cook averaged 13.0 points and 5.2 rebounds a season ago, and both averages could tick up significantly this winter. The Ducks may not have another 20-point-per-night player like Young, but sophomore Dillon Brooks, senior Dwayne Benjamin, senior transfer Dylan Ennis and touted freshman Tyler Dorsey all can pick up the scoring slack.

Brooks is the No. 2 returning scorer, after averaging 11.5 points per game. He played internationally for his native Canada over the summer, and returned to Eugene with renewed confidence, better conditioning and even a wild new haircut.

“He said he came back from the FIBA with some swag about himself,” Cook said with a grin. “So he changed his whole body and got a new haircut. He’s playing well.”

Should the Ducks need a game-winning shot in the absence of Young, the player to watch might be Benjamin. When the Ducks were playing pick-up in the offseason, and it was tied up, next point wins, Benjamin stepped up.

“He made a lot of big shots this summer,” Cook said. “So he’s real confident going into the season. He made a lot of big shots.”

Benjamin was flattered by Cook’s scouting report, but said “everybody’s capable of doing it. I think we’re just going to try to get whoever’s open the ball, and be confident in whoever takes the shot.”

With so much skill on the offensive end, replacing Young’s scoring production isn’t an overwhelming concern for the Ducks. And with the graduate transfer Ennis on hand, after stints at Rice and Villanova, the leadership Young provided should be replaced as well.

As usual, Altman’s concern is instilling in his team the importance of defense and rebounding. The seven returning letterwinners – also including Casey BensonRoman Sorkin and walk-on Charlie Noebel – give the Ducks a head start in those areas, but the absence of Bell early on will be a challenge.

A year ago, Bell averaged 6.1 rebounds and set or tied school records for blocked shots in a season (94), a single game (eight) and a single NCAA Tournament (eight).

“We’ve got to pretty much divide up everything he does, and add on to what we’re expected to do,” Benjamin said. “And that’s a lot. That’s a big responsibility. I don’t know one person here who’s got the instincts of him to go get the ball, so we’ll just try to pick it up on the defensive end. We can’t get beat as much as last year, because he was there to be our savior.”

Oregon’s perimeter defense will get a boost from lightning quick freshman guard Kendall Small. On the back end, junior college player of the year Chris Boucher and freshman Trevor Manuel provide size, but they’ll undoubtedly require a transition period to the major college ranks.

Thus could wings like Cook, Benjamin and Brooks also be called upon to play down low until Bell returns.

“We’re going to have to move people around, we’re going to have to play differently,” Altman said. “He was such a presence (last season) – he was our leading rebounder and leading shot blocker. It’s a big hole for us to fill.”

Given Oregon’s depth and versatility, there’s cautious optimism the Ducks can weather Bell’s early absence. By doing so, they can set the stage for potentially their best season yet under Altman.

“We have a chance,” the UO coach said. “Now, can we put it all together? Will they play together? Will they share the ball? Will we stay healthy? Those are all things that are a big part of it. But I like them as a group, and we should be able to make some steps.”

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

CHIP KELLY

Chip Kelly says he hasn't been contacted by any college regarding coaching vacancies.

The Philadelphia Eagles coach has been linked to a number of coaching vacancies, with Southern California and Maryland the most recent. But Kelly said neither he nor his agent have heard from anyone in the college ranks. "No," Kelly told reporters when asked Thursday morning.

The Eagles are an inconsistent 2-3 heading into the Monday night showdown against the New York Giants. The Eagles have yet to win a playoff game under Kelly. He came from a successful college program at Oregon. He said he understands why the rumors start.

"I understand that it's gonna happen. We're not successful, we're not winning, I came from college and I'm gonna go back to college," Kelly said. "I hope some day to be like (New York Giants) Coach Coughlin and win enough games where I can stay around long enough where that speculation ends. But I understand you have to ask the question."

Kelly has been rumored to headed back to college almost since the day he arrived in Philadelphia. He was linked to Texas and Florida in the past. Most recently, he has been mentioned as a possible candidate at Southern California after Steve Sarkisian was fired. "It's an unfortunate part of the game, and the other unfortunate part is there are people who have lost their jobs," Kelly said. "Somebody, a friend of mine in Steve Sarkisian, is dealing with a big issue right now, and I wish him the best."

The best way for Kelly to stop the speculation is to win games. The Eagles could vault into the first place in the NFC East if they can defeat the Giants.

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Latest Oregon Depth Chart

 

Updated: 10/14/2015 7:31PM -- NOTE: There was no color code description accompanying this chart.

Pos

No

Player 1

No

Player 2

No

Player 3

No

Player 4

No

Player 5

OFFENSE

WR 

85

Stanford, Dwayne RS JR

13

Allen, Devon RS SO

 

 

 

WR 

Nelson, Charles SO

33

Merritt, Kirk FR

 

 

 

WR 

Addison, Bralon RS JR

15

Brown, Jalen RS FR

 

 

 

LT 

64

Johnstone, Tyler RS SR

77

Lousi, Haniteli SR

 

 

 

LG 

62

Pierson, Matt RS SR

57

Brenner, Doug RS SO

 

 

 

72

Hegarty, Matt SR/TR

57

Brenner, Doug RS SO

 

 

 

RG 

78

Hunt, Cameron JR/2

76

Pisarcik, Jake RS SO

 

 

 

RT 

73

Crosby, Tyrell SO

79

Voeller, Evan RS SO

 

 

 

TE 

81

Baylis, Evan RS JR

83

Mundt, Johnny JR

 

 

 

QB 

Adams, Vernon SR/TR

17

Lockie, Jeff RS JR

12

Alie, Taylor RS SO

 

 

RB 

21

Freeman, Royce SO

29

Benoit, Kani RS SO

Griffin, Taj FR

 

 

DEFENSE

DE 

44

Buckner, DeForest SR/3

45

Daniel, T.J. RS JR/2

99

Kaumatule, Canton FR

 

 

NT 

56

Balducci, Alex SR/3

50

Maloata, Austin SO

 

 

 

DE 

55

Talia, Tui SR

92

Mondeaux, Henry SO

 

 

 

OLB 

33

Coleman, Tyson RS SR/3

86

Prevot, Torrodney JR/2

 

 

 

ILB 

48

Hardrick, Rodney RS SR/3

28

Ragin III, Johnny JR/TR

 

 

 

ILB 

35

Walker, Joe SR

18

Swain, Jimmie SO

46

Mattingly, Danny RS SO

 

 

OLB 

96

French, Christian RS SR/3

52

Faulhaber, Ivan RS SO

32

Heard, Eddie RS SO/TR

 

 

CB 

Springs, Arrion SO

10

Griffin, Ty RS SO

 

 

 

FS 

Robinson, Tyree RS SO

26

Oliver, Khalil RS FR

 

 

 

SS 

Daniels, Reggie RS JR

Nelson, Charles SO

 

 

 

CB 

25

Ihenacho, Glen RS FR

14

Amadi, Ugo FR

 

 

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

38

Wheeler, Ian RS SO

42

Maimone, Blake FR

 

 

 

PK 

41

Schneider, Aidan SO

49

Wogan, Matt JR

 

 

 

LS 

58

Carew, Tanner SO

 

 

 

 

12

Alie, Taylor RS SO

 

 

 

 

PR 

Addison, Bralon RS JR

Nelson, Charles SO

 

 

 

KR 

Addison, Bralon RS JR

Nelson, Charles SO

 

 

 

KO 

49

Wogan, Matt JR

 




Frank Baldwin
Frank Baldwin

Author




Also in News

Cougar Game

by Frank Baldwin September 30, 2016

Read More

Big Basketball News + Football

by Frank Baldwin September 22, 2016

Read More

Helfrich Post Game Interview

by Frank Baldwin September 20, 2016

Read More