On Friday night, University of Oregon G Damyean Dotson made a poor decision.
The 19-year-old sophomore decided to use a fake ID to evade security and enter Taylor’s Bar & Grill despite being underaged. For many college students, this strategy is a sly way to experience the bar scene without meeting the pesky 21-years of existence requirement.
However, as Dotson learned the hard way, when you’re a local celebrity whose face is recognized by anyone who casually follows UO sports, using a fake ID is a reckless idea.
And like many reckless acts, consequences are an inevitable side effect.
So far Dotson’s consequences, including a few hundred dollars worth of fines, a one game suspension and a blip to his reputation, have mostly been inflicted solely on himself.
But if UO head coach Dana Altman decides to extend the suspension through the UCLA game, it could negatively affect the entire UO men’s basketball team.
At this point, Altman is uncertain whether he will let Dotson play.
“He”ll make the trip and then we will just see what happens,” Altman said.
Considering UCLA’s 21-6, has only lost one game at home this season(to the No. 3 ranked Arizona Wildcats no less)and will not be lacking in the motivation department after losing its last game to Stanford, UO will have to play some of its best basketball of the year to best the Bruins.
But If the first half against Washington State is any indication, it’s hard to envision this Ducks team surviving Dotson’s absence and pulling off the upset.
Against the Cougars, UO’s chemistry and precision were out of sorts to say the least in the first half. The team scored just 24 points, committed seven turnovers and failed to convert their first field goal attempt until the 12 minutes mark of the first half.
Though they played much better in the second half, UO players admit that Dotson’s absence leaves a void that’s difficult to fill.
It’s really hard to replace Dot,” UO F Mike Moser said.
“We better have him on Thursday,” UO PG Johnathan Loyd added.
Loyd also commented that Dotson’s benching has a negative effect on UO’s rotation.
“Having Jason(Calliste) start, you don’t have a weapon on the bench like Jason. It kind of messes up the rotation.”
However, the benching of Dotson sparks the entrance of Jalil Abdul-Bassit. In fact, Altman has been trying to find ways to get Abdul-Bassit on the court for a while now.
“Jalil really got hurt this year. He started off with a high ankle sprain and that really set him back. He’s handled it really well. He’s earned some playing time. I’ve just had trouble finding a spot to stick him in the rotation. It’s just hard to play 11 guys,” Altman said.
Though Abdul-Bassit was quiet against WSU, scoring two points on 1-1 shooting, UO coaches and players believe he is an asset on the court.
“You know he’s going to bring energy, he’s really athletic, he shoots really well. We have tons of confidence that he can play,” Moser said.
Still, Dotson is a proven commodity who has played exceptionally well in must win games for nearly two season, whereas Abdul-Bassit hadn’t seen the light of day in a meaningful Pac-12 game until Sunday.
Fortunately for Dotson, the team and UO fans, if kind words are any indication, it’s likely Dotson will return to the lineup on Thursday.
“Dot has a lot of credit built up because he has done a lot of good things for us the last few years,” Altman said.
“He goes to class. His academic record is good. He’s represented our program off the floor and has done a lot off the court with kids,” he added.
Whether Dotson plays or not, with a 6-8 Pac-12 record, the Ducks season is hanging in the balance.
“We’re playing with our lives right now. Every game’s a tournament game from here on out,” Loyd said.
Considering Ben Carter and Dominic Artis’ nine game suspension earlier this year for selling shoes given to them by UO, Altman is used to dealing with off-the-court issues.
“I’ve worked with young men for a long time and I know that sometimes they make mistakes,” Altman said.
Hopefully for UO’s sake, Dotson’s mistake at a bar in Eugene doesn’t prove consequential on the court in Los Angeles.