It was just a matter of time. When Dana Altman left Creighton to take over at Oregon the Ducks weren’t exactly a perennial contender in the Pac-12. That’s on the verge of changing. These Ducks are very talented.
Altman has a nice blend of youth and experience. His four seniors all contribute led by E.J. Singler. The 6-foot-6 Singler makes them go. He’s great on the offensive glass and is Altman’s energy guy. He can shoot the three and is just a very good all-around player. Carlos Emory (6-foot-6) is a great glue guy who can rebound, post up, and shoot the three. The 6-foot-11 Tony Woods can block shots and a capable scorer in the post (JC Transfer Waverly Austin is a similar player). Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi is a pro. The 6-foot-7 import from Iran averaged a double-double during his three seasons with the Owls.
What will make Altman’s team a major factor in the Pac-12 is the youth. Willie Moore, who originally signed to play at Duquesne, is a nice role player right now. The 6-foot-3 guard from Cincinnati will eventually be a really good all-around player for Altman. Damyean Dotson is a long, lanky shooter and a very good defender. The 6-foot-5 Dotson showed off his abilities in Oregon’s win at UNLV on Thanksgiving weekend. He’s really good but point guard Dominc Artis is a stud. He’s a big time shooter with great quickness in the open court. The 6-foot-1 rookie point is a pro.
Artis is the key to the Ducks high post offense. Good discipline, spacing and sharing the ball have long been traits of Altman’s teams. It’s no different this season and that starts with Artis.
The Ducks can defend as well. They make it difficult to get a rhythm in the halfcourt and they do a nice job of mixing presses and trapping in the backcourt. If you don’t take care of the basketball and take good shoots, Oregon will kill you in transition.
For a while now Altman has been one of the top coaches in the country. Now he’s at a place where people will start to acknowledge that fact. He can coach.
- Very interested to see how Butler and VCU fair in Atlantic 10 play. Both teams were the crown jewel in their respective conferences, but a new league brings new challenges. In fact everything is new -- new venues, new travel and unfamiliarity. VCU knew what to expect, and to some degree had a comfort zone, when traveling to UNC-Wilmington. Charlotte will be different -- a lot different. And the bottom half of the Atlantic 10 is a lot better than the second division in the Colonial. For VCU and Butler it’s a matter of getting acclimated. I would expect Oral Roberts will find similar challenges entering the Southland Conference.
- Joshua Smith and Tyler Lamb left the UCLA program but despite what some have reported -- the sky isn’t falling on Ben Howland. Braun’s freshmen group is dynamite. Jordan Adams (6-foot-5), the least heralded, is one of the best shooters in the country (among freshman), Kyle Anderson (6-foot-9) is a smooth. So much so that he looks like he’s playing in slow motion. Tony Parker (6-foot-5) can be a force in the middle and of course Shabazz Muhammad’s talents have been well documented. I really like sophomore two-guard Norman Powell (6-foot-4) and Carolina transfer John Drew II (6-foot-2) is a nice addition. There will be some growing pains with this group, but the Bruins should be a lot better a month from now and they could be really good heading into March.
- Everything that could go wrong went wrong for Kerry Keating and Santa Clara last season. Two years ago the Broncos won the CIT and looked poised for a run in the WCC in 2012. But they lost Marc Trasolini (6-foot-9) before the season started. Trasolini is as good as any big in the WCC. It was a huge loss and it was seemingly downhill for the Broncos from there. Later in the season All-American Kevin Foster (6-foot-2) was suspended following a DUI. And point guard Evan Roquemore (6-foot-3) had a disappointing sophomore campaign. Trasolini is healthy, Foster looks slimmer and quicker and Roquemore looks like he will have a big season. That means Kerry Keating will sleep a little better this season and Broncos will contend for the WCC title they were expected to chase last season.
- UL-Lafayette head coach Bob Marlin never gets much love for being one of the really good coaches in college basketball, but lately he has gotten plenty of love (or lack thereof) for a preseason promo. The local Sonic created a Ragin’ Cajun burger so they asked Marlin to star in a commercial to promote the new menu selection. Not surprisingly his friends have worn him out. CHECK OUT THE COMMERCIAL and be sure to LISTEN TO THE PODCAST he did with CollegeInsider.com. Sorry coach!