After transferring from Wake Forest last season, center Tony Woods made an instant impact giving the Ducks size they had not had in years. Woods came on strong at the end of last season, establishing career highs in points in three of his four last games. Against rival Washington, Woods set a career high with 15 points. Woods also set the school record for blocks in a season, with 51. To go along with that record, Woods was an honorable mention on the Pac-12’s all-defensive team.
Woods is a force in the middle defensively for the Ducks, with the ability to disrupt and alter shots from opponents. Because of his shot-blocking abilities, Woods erases a lot of mistakes the Ducks make and his presence gives the Ducks more flexibility in how they want to play defense, especially on the perimeter.
Junior point guard John Loyd can be more aggressive defensively on the perimeter because of Woods “You can get up a little more because you’re not afraid to get beat. You know you’ve got good help back there.”
But for how well Woods did in his first season with the Ducks, he has a lot to improve upon. Despite being the tallest player on the Ducks at 6’11 Woods was 4th on the team on rebounding with 3.5 rebounds per game. Woods never grabbed more than six rebounds in a game last season and had one rebound or less in five games.
There is no reason Woods’ statistics should be so low, as all the players that finished above Woods in rebounding (E.J. Singler, Olu Ashaolu, Carlos Emory) are at least three inches shorter. Singler, who led the Ducks in rebounding last season, grabbed 73 more rebounds than Woods. That equates to more than two rebounds a game, a significant difference in every game.
To go along with Woods subpar rebounding stats, Woods only logged 18 minutes per game last season. Much of this has to do with Woods’ conditioning, which head coach Dana Altman has said needs to improve. To be a starter, leader and anchor in the middle for the Ducks this season Woods must play more minutes. Woods shows flashes of being a high energy anchor but needs to sustain for entire games.
In the Ducks season opener Woods showed he could do this, logging 27 minutes, 14 points and 7 rebounds. Woods set a career high in that game with rebounding, but Northern Arizona’s biggest player was also three inches shorter than Woods. While watching Woods this season it’s apparent he’s getting better at finding the ball off the box out of his defender, a key reason he missed chances at rebounds last season.
Offensively Woods finished the season averaging 6.8 points a game. Woods offensive game has come a long way since last season, where the majority of Woods’ baskets came from put-backs and dunks. With a lot of hard work, Woods is developing an effective post game. Now the Ducks can go to Woods on the low block and let him work for a basket.
If Woods gets deep in the paint, he’s is almost impossible to stop. Woods’ best post moves are to the middle. After clearing space into the middle of the lane by swinging his arms through, Woods has a consistent hook shot. Another one of Woods’ go-to moves is a spin to the middle; Woods showed this move off during the season opener when he spun to the middle, went up and under a defender for a powerful dunk.
To improve his offensive game Woods must do a few key things. Woods is getting better at establishing position on the block, but he is generally too high. Woods is alright at running the floor in the Ducks fast-paced offense, but with better conditioning Woods can become more mobile.
The biggest thing for Woods to improve is his pick and roll game. In the Ducks offense, Woods sets a lot of picks from different spots on the floor, but Woods doesn’t roll hard enough off the picks. If Woods can become more active on the roll, he will receive more passes and get more easy passes.
If Woods keeps improving his game, namely his rebounding, conditioning and post game, Woods has the potential to be an all Pac-12 performer and a legitimate NBA prospect.