We've discussed the Oregon basketball sexual assault scandal at length on ATQ. Out of respect for the seriousness of the situation, we've tried to stay away from the on court ramifications. However, sufficient time has passed since the resolution of the issue that talking about basketball is now appropriate.
And the basketball side of this isn't pretty, either.
With Dominic Artis, Damyean Doston, and Brandon Austin being removed from the program, Oregon lost three scholarship players, two of them surefire starters. This has happened at a time where recruiting season is long over for the upcoming season. You are allowed to have 13 men's basketball players on scholarship. Oregon currently has ten, and a total of eleven players on the roster if you include walk-on Theo Freidman. While Altman is a sure bet to find a late transfer on the wire before school starts, there are also rumors that a player committed to come to Oregon for this year's class may or may not make it to campus.
If the roster stays as expected, this is what Oregon's depth is looking like:
C -- Michael Chandler (Jr.)
PF -- Jordan Bell (Fr.), Ray Kasongo (Fr.)
SF -- Elgin Cook (Jr.), Dwayne Benjamin (Jr.)
SG -- Joseph Young (Sr.), JaQuan Lyle (Fr.) Jalil Abdul-Bassit (Sr.), Theo Friedman (So., walk-on)
PG -- Casey Benson (Fr.), Ahmaad Rorie (Fr.)
This is still a really talented roster, with four and five star athletes abound, but one that is really short on experience. Only Joseph Young and Elgin Cook played any significant minutes on last year's team.
The good news is that experience is probably less relevant in college basketball than it is in any other collegiate sport. But Atlman is guaranteed to have a freshman point guard, and aside from Joseph Young, nobody is a surefire upper tier Pac-12 starter. It's a roster littered with four star guys, so there is a reasonable chance for a lot of things to go right. But there's not a lot you can absolutely bank on.
The lack of big men seems glaring, but none of the departed players were going to be a huge help in that respect. Dotson, Artis, and Austin would have added experience and depth, but they weren't going to fundamentally change the fact that it will be largely a small ball system--and I think we'll see significant stretches with Cook at the 4, Lyle at the 3, and Young at the 2.
The transfers also give the Ducks zero margin for error when it comes to injuries. If a forward gets hurt, this team will be in an almost insurmountable hole. If Young or Cook gets hurt, they are toast.
Actions have consequences, and it's tough to argue that the players who were removed from the program didn't deserve what they got. Their departure means that the NCAA Tournament isn't a realistic expectation for the upcoming season. But if that's the price of cleaning up the program, then so be it.