The media has spoken, and it's not looking pretty for Oregon basketball. On Thursday morning, the Pac-12 preseason media poll was released, with Oregon predicted to finish in eighth place. The Arizona Wildcats were the near-unanimous favorite to defend their conference title, receiving 31 of a possible 32 first place votes. UCLA received the other first place vote.
The poll shouldn't come as a shock to Ducks fans, considering the recent turmoil the program has gone through. Oregon has almost an entirely new roster with only three returning players from last year that have significant game experience (Sorry, Theo Friedman). Joe Young, Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Elgin Cook are the main returning guys for the Ducks, but there's even some small issues among that group as Abdul-Bassit and Cook were caught shoplifting at Market of Choice last month. It won't have any impact on the season, but it's still one more headache Dana Altman will have to deal with. Half of Oregon's roster is made up of freshmen and sophomores.
Help us, Joe Young. You're our only hope.
Many key pieces of Oregon's recent NCAA tournament teams are now gone. Jason Calliste, Mike Moser, Johnathan Loyd, Richard Amardi and Waverley Austin all graduated. Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin were all kicked off campus after an ugly sexual assault case. Top recruit JaQuan Lyle didn't enroll because of academic problems.
Essentially, Altman and his staff brought this program back into the spotlight only to have all that work ruined by a disastrous offseason. The foundation has been imploded, and the Ducks are back at square one. In my eyes, a trip to the NIT would be nothing short of a miracle. A third straight trip to the NCAA tournament this year would require a script straight out of a Disney sports movie.
Below is the full Pac-12 preseason media poll. Looks like those road trips to the Rocky Mountains won't get any easier for the Ducks, presuming this poll pans out accurately.