September 27, 2008

Where will the offense come from?

Malik, Maarty, and Bryce are all gone. Hairston's with the Spurs, Leunen is playing in Europe, and Taylor is playing overseas as well. With the offense almost entirely being generated through those players, the Ducks are in a rebuilding mode on offense this year. The team that relied on jumpers the last two years to get themselves points in the half court, will have exactly one good jump shooter with playing experience to start the year, Tajuan Porter. To win this year, the Ducks need to get as much offense as they can from their defense. They have the athletes to play defense, rebound and get out on the break to get easy buckets. How well they do that will determine how many W's they put on the board.

The Ducks return just Joevan Catron and Porter as players who started or consistently played big minutes. And Franz Dorsainvil and LeKendric Longmire and Kamryn Brown as guys who played enough minutes to have improved over the course of last year. Oregon could start those five players, but they probably won't. Pencil in Catron and Porter and after that watch for a mad scramble for players fighting for minutes.

Offensively, those two players will need to carry a larger portion of the load, Brown will have to find consistency in his jump shot to force defenders to come out on him and open up the drive where he can have the greatest impact for the offense. And Longmire will have to develop a respectable shot as well. His slashing to the bucket and open court play are very impressive, but it isn't enough alone to make him an offensive force. Behind him will be transfer Ben Voogd, who's offensive skills rely mostly on getting his shots out of the offense, not creating his own offense. And Churchill Odia still looks like a role player a couple years after his transfer from Xavier.

Of the freshmen, Matthew Humphrey's offensive game looks the most ready to contribute right away. He's got a good drive to the bucket, finishes well, and has a nice soft mid-range jumper you don't often see from players right out of high school. How well he's able to create a shot off the dribble will determine just how effective he is early on.

Michael Dunnigan is the most celebrated of the newcomers. But offensively he's raw. Very raw. He catches it well, passes it back out not quite as well, and generally lacks the polish he'd need to score consistently in the Pac-10 right now. He'll get there, but he's a 'grab scraps off the glass and put it back' kinda guy right now. Not someone with a myriad of post moves who'll put fear in the hearts of defenders every night.

Teondre Williams is a guy with unlimited athleticism. Williams should ultimately thrive in Oregon's up-tempo offense with his ability to finish at the rim. A high-energy defender whose jumper is inconsistent, but who's always made up for it by outworking people. He'll get a chance to do that this year with so few other offensive options for the Ducks.

Expect Drew Wiley to play a limited role if he doesn't red shirt, and Josh Crittle to battle him for the same minutes if he doesn't red shirt himself. Garrett Sim has the talent to step onto the court and contribute right away. (Who says the Ducks don't recruit in Oregon? That's two players in the same class right there.) He'll push Brown for playing time this year. Offensively, he can shoot it and run the offense. He's probably more ready to play offensively right now than Brown was last year at this time. How well he defends will determine how much PT he gets.

If Brown's jumper has improved, and either Longmire or Humphrey can become an offensive threat, the Ducks offense has a chance to be pretty good. If not, they're a year away from getting back to the high-flying offense we've all gotten used to seeing.

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