Team chemistry is the underlying question with what appears to be certainly a strong enough team on paper. Can all the incoming parts, all highly touted, fit together in Dana Altman’s run-first system that relies on cohesion on the fly? Brown will want the ball often, but Johnathan Loyd is a multi-talented point guard expected to guide the team after starting 16 games a year ago. Woods comes with big talent and a big reputation as much for his on-court hype as his notoriety for injuring his girlfriend, an offense that led to his leaving Winston-Salem. Many players do well with the ball in their hands, but Oregon’s success rides on the players’ acceptance of their roles.
Brett Kingma is just a true freshman, but the Washington 4A Player of the Year is as pure a shooter as they come from deep. At 6-1, 175 he’s not imposing — but neither was catch-and-shoot specialist Tajuan Porter as a freshman, when he helped lead Oregon to an Elite Eight. I look for him to be a fan favorite and capture fans’ attention much like Porter did during his freshman and sophomore seasons, when the smallest dude on campus became arguably its biggest. Altman’s pressing, when run successfully, can get his players into matchup problems when they get the ball back. Kingma could take advantage by spotting up while everyone else scrambles back on defense.
Oregon is a trendy pick to win the Pac-12, but we’ll know more about them in the first six weeks in games against Vanderbilt (on the road), UTEP, Nebraska (on the road) and Virginia. Oregon should be a top-five team in the Pac-12, inspiring cautious optimism about a first NCAA Tournament run since 2008. They have a big advantage in their first full season at Matthew Knight Arena. It’s a gorgeous, $200 million building that is built to channel the noise downward, much like at Mac Court. However, its first game, a turning-point win against USC, was also the final of last season with a crowd that made the place a madhouse. But Oregon fans have certainly warmed to Altman’s strategy and straightforward personality and they can be as loud as any fanbase. Whether Oregon can deliver a team that deserves such applause is yet to be seen.
What do you expect out of Oregon this season?
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