The Oregon Ducks Men’s Basketball team began the season a few months ago not knowing what they had. Now the non-conference slate is complete and many in Eugene realize that the team that Dana Altman has put together this season is pretty good. Solid on Offense, Solid on Defense, but so far they have lacked consistency on both sides of the ball.
The potential is there and so is the talent. Oregon finished the non-conference schedule on Monday night hosting UC Irvine who gave them fits all night on Defense. Oregon won the game thanks to Dwayne Benjamin and his career high nineteen points. Three of them the most important coming in the final seconds of regulation with just over seven seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime.
It would be the Oregon Ducks second overtime win this season and it was a game where Senior Joseph Young was not the lead scorer, but more of a compliment. On the night Young had eleven points, but a clutch three pointer late in the game. Benjamin led all scorers with eighteen and Jordan Bell added four blocked shots on the night continuing his early season reign on the Oregon Record Books in the category.
Last season the team had a total of one-hundred and eighteen blocked shots. Bell in the non-conference schedule is on pace to break that. He has forty-eight on the year, by himself proving that he is a force on the Defensive side of the ball. Oregon has found a good mix this season on Defense and has even added a body on Offense.
Altman was able to add some talent into the season in Michael Chandler. The big man is in the process of getting his feet wet so far and has been productive in limited minutes. He is working his way into the lineup after starting the season with an eligibility issue and an injury.
Freshman are playing key minutes. Ahmaad Rorie, Dillon Brooks along with Benjamin are building some floor chemistry with Senior Joseph Young that could pay big dividends down the line. Oregon will be tested early in the Pac-12 slate. First is a date with Oregon State on Saturday at 5pm. If you can’t make it out to Matthew Knight Arena, the game will be on ESPNU.
Following the Civil War, Oregon will have to have their A game as third ranked Arizona comes to town. A win against the Wildcats would go far this season. I am not sure this is an NCAA Tournament team, but big wins in big games usually can tell the tale.
10-3 is a good start for a team that no one knew entering the season. If there is one thing I know it is that Dana Altman always finds a way to get guys to work together. He has done it for several years in Eugene now. Will the 2014-15 Oregon team be good enough and talented enough for Altman to once again work his magic? Some in Eugene believe he already has.
Attendance this season has been solid. Over four-thousand in attendance for each game of the non-conference home slate can only start to tell the tale. If Oregon can start the Pac-12 season out at 2-0 the cautious optimism that surrounds this team will shift. Altman is the Coach that can make that happen.
The Pac-12 slate starts on Saturday night against Oregon State.(5pm Pacific Time, ESPNU)
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