It hasn't been a great week for Oregon athletics. It started with news on Tuesday that two starters for the mens' basketball team, point guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter had been suspended nine games. Thursday brought a crushing football loss to Stanford that took the Ducks out of the national title picture. Friday, mercifully, brought happiness. Unfazed by the suspensions, the basketball team started off the season with an impressive quality win, beating Georgetown, 82-75, at the Armed Forces Classic in South Korea.
Oregon jumped out to an early ten point lead on the Hoyas, putting great pressure on Georgetown with an energetic 3/4 court trap. Offensively, the Ducks weren't making a ton of shots from the field, hitting on only 25% for the entire first half, but they started out the half extremely aggressive, and were getting to the free throw line at will. This built Oregon the early lead. However, with that lead established, the Ducks became content to just chuck up threes against the Hoya zone. Meanwhile, Georgetown finally figured out the Oregon trap, and began running their halfcourt sets through UCLA transfer Joshua Smith. Unable to guard the 350-pounder, the Ducks found themselves vulnerable not just to Smith's size down low, but his quality passing ability. The Hoyas started getting to the line, while Oregon continued to hoist ill-advised three-pointers, allowing Georgetown to pull within three at the half.
As expected, Dana Altman made halftime adjustments, and Oregon finally began attacking the zone. Once Oregon began attacking the high post and corners, the offense ran a lot more smoothly, and those ill-fated threes turned into wide open jumpers and layups. This became even more pronounced late, when Georgetown switched to a man defense to put more pressure on Oregon. Johnathan Loyd carved that up with ease. The Ducks were never able to pull away, as Smith's dominance down low precluded any long runs, but Oregon outrebounded the Hoyas and shot over 50% from the field in the second half, holding off Georgetown for the win.
- Joseph Young is the real deal. He's not a guy that is going to create a ton of shots off the dribble, but he is a perfect off-guard for Altman's offense. He can shoot from anywhere, displaying the ability to hit both the three-pointer and the mid-range jump shot. He can also be a slasher and finish at the rim or get fouled. And he is money from the line, going 12-12 in this game. Young finished with 24 points on 5-11 shooting, with the 12 free throw and five rebounds.
- Speaking of transfers, Mike Moser was everything he could hope to be. He fell in love with the three-ball in the first half, but settled into a nice mid-range game out of that high post spot in the zone offense, displaying the ability to consistently hit that mid-range jumper. Defensively, he had trouble the times when he was matched up with the much larger Smith, but had a great game overall: 15 points, six steals, seven rebounds, three assists.
- Like Young, Jason Calliste is a guy who is going to make a lot of shots this year. It's clear he's not a great point guard, and should move back off the ball when Dominic Artis comes back (trying to go behind-the-back to split two guys on a full court press is never a good idea), but he was 11-11 from the line en route to 16 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
- Waverly Austin does not appear to have improved from last year. He looked stiff on defense and lost on offense. Final line: nine minutes, five fouls, zero points, zero blocks, one rebound, and getting a dunk rejected by a guard. This is why the loss of Ben Carter hurts so much.
- Damyean Dotson had a horrible shooting game, going 1-9 from the field. But he was aggressive, earning nine trips to the line, and continues to be a stellar rebounder, leading all players with 8 boards. When Oregon goes to three-guard lineups, and they will play that way most of the season, Dotson is the guy that will guard the other team's 3, and could even guard a shorter 4 in a pinch.
- Johnathan Loyd has turned into a really good point guard. He played within himself, didn't force anything, and showed no signs of the out-of-control play that has plagued him at times in the past. He hit both his shots, including a huge three-pointer to respond after Georgetown took their only lead of the second half. He had seven assists to zero turnovers, and carved up Georgetown's man to man like butter.
- I can see why some compare Richard Amardi to Olu Ashaolu. He doesn't yet have Olu's skill level, but has his athleticism and a more unrefined version of Olu's game. And he threw down a nasty dunk off a great pick-and-roll with Loyd.
- Despite being at a tremendous size disadvantage, Oregon outrebounded Georgetown 40-32.
- The new rules played a huge role in the game, which took almost three hours. 59 fouls were called, and 74 free throws were shot, with numerous calls that wouldn't have been called last year. The Ducks shot 82% (36-44) while Georgetown shot 67% (20-30). Georgetown was 1-15 from three.
- A shoutout to Georgetown's Joshua Smith. Dude was just a fat, lazy guy at UCLA. He dominated this game, with 10-13 shooting and 25 points. Oregon is going to struggle against big-time post players this season with little depth at the spot, but they won't face anyone as big, or who is as skilled a passer as Smith is.