Overall Rank: #34
Conference Rank: #6 Pac-10
2006-07: 29-8, 11-7, 3rd (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Oregon returns four starters but they do lose their team leader in Aaron Brooks. Tajuan Porter will have to go from a three point shooter to a floor leader quickly. Porter, at 5-6 and 150 pounds, lacks strength and does not have the penetrating skills that Brooks possessed. Averaging 14.6 points per game, Porter’s freshman season was absolutely amazing and more than anybody could have expected, but the Ducks will have to ask him to play a different role this year.
Brooks was not a true point guard either and it worked out alright for the team. But he could get to the basket and dish out to his open teammates. Brooks led the team with 17.7 points, 4.3 assists and 1.4 steals per contest. The numbers may be replaceable, but the leadership is not. Chamberlain Oguchi came on strong at the end of last season after an otherwise dismal shooting campaign. If that decent shooting would have continued into this season, Oguchi would have been a solid contributor for the Ducks. Instead, Oguchi has opted to get a fresh start elsewhere. Little used guard Adrian Stelly has run out of eligibility after playing in just nine contests last season. The lone loss up front is Adam Zahn. He averaged less than ten minutes per game, but Zahn was a decent, experienced big body off the bench.
If Kamyron Brown can handle some minutes running the show as a freshman, it will free up Porter to do what he does best, hit the long ball. Brown is an all-around good point guard who has a promising future, but it is asking too much to expect him to be more than a backup right now. The only other incoming freshman is Drew Viney. The 6-7 wing is a solid athlete with a nice looking shooting touch, but his best days are ahead of him. It is a couple of redshirts that may end up making the biggest impact this season. At 6-5, shooting guard LeKendric Longmire can bring more size to the perimeter group. He can help out on so many levels and will get on the glass, shoot from anywhere on the floor and handle the ball. Frantz Dorsainvil, a transfer from Vincennes University, is a strong presence in the paint. At the least, the Ducks need some more big bodies and Dorsainvil definitely fits that bill.
Who to Watch:
The strength of the team is on the wings where Bryce Taylor and Malik Hairston will look to lead the team back to the Elite Eight during their senior campaigns. If Porter does indeed start at the point, it will allow Taylor and Hairston to move to their more natural positions. The smooth shooting Taylor averaged 14.1 points per game and proved to be a consistent shooter from anywhere on the floor. Hairston played at the four spot last year and averaged 11.3 points and 6.0 rebounds. Hairston’s versatility to hit the long ball or mix it up in the paint was a huge asset to the team last year. He may do a little more scoring if he spends more time slashing from the small forward position, but he is smart enough to help out his team no matter where he sees his minutes. Churchill Odia did not make a big impact last year after transferring in from Xavier. A knee injury slowed him down, but now that he is healthy the 6-6 junior will be a quality backup at the point, shooting guard and small forward spots.
Last year it was four guards centered around Maarty Leunen. The 6-9 forward had a spectacular season and averaged 10.8 points and a team high 8.2 rebounds per game. He is not an intimidating player on the defensive end, but he gets the job done. Offensively, teams concentrated on stopping the guards and that led to a lot of opportunities for Leunen and he did not disappoint. If Hairston ends up at the small forward spot and Coach Ernie Kent opts for a more traditional lineup, Joevan Catron is the frontrunner to spend time at the four. Catron is undersized for a power forward at 6-6, but he fits the position well. He earned a couple starts as a freshman and even if he is not starting this year, the team will utilize him at the four more this season. Mitch Platt and Ray Schafer were down the bench a ways last year, but both are experienced centers. A few years ago Platt was a starter, but injuries have derailed his career. If healthy, Platt has the potential to be a major contributor.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Tajuan Porter, Sophomore, Guard, 14.6 points per game
Bryce Taylor, Senior, Guard, 14.1 points per game
Malik Hairston, Senior, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Joevan Catron, Sophomore, Forward, 3.1 points per game
Maarty Leunen, Senior, Forward, 10.8 points per game