While we rapidly approach the start of football season, Oregon Men’s Basketball took a little trip to the Great White (well, perhaps not this time of year) North for some summer hoops.
During the swing, the Ducks squared off against McGill University, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, McMaster University, and Toronto Metropolitan University. The first game took place in Montreal, the following two in Ottawa, and the final two in Toronto.
Not only was it a great bonding experience for the newly-assembled squad, but it provided a homecoming for Ethan Butler, Keeshawn Barthelemy, and Quincy Guerrier.
While the first game ended in complete domination for Oregon thanks to big performances from twin towers Nate Bittle and Kel’el Ware, Guerrier came to the rescue as Oregon survived the second contest 78-76.
Ware and Bittle again dominated as Oregon ran away with the third contest, and Guerrier tallied 21 points in the Ducks’ fourth win, a 15-point victory. To wrap it up, Ware put on a monster performance with 26 points in the final win, which was another blowout.
So, aside from the fun and chemistry-building experience the trip was, what can we glean from what we saw in the five straight exhibition wins?
Well, first and foremost is that Oregon is good inside. Like, really good. Like, stacked.
The performances by Bittle and Ware took place without probable starting Center N’Faly Dante making the trip due to visa restrictions. Ware looked every bit a 5-star recruit and, for the first time, so did Bittle. You add the veteran Dante, who finally came into his own last season while remaining healthy, to the mix and you have a brand new set of Tall Firs in Eugene.
Secondly, the return of Guerrier and Richardson is a great thing and the two veterans look ready to lead. Leadership was something Oregon couldn’t quite manage to put together last season, and it cost them.
Finally, the Ducks, at least during this exhibition stretch, appear to be a much-improved 3-point shooting team, which was also something they struggled with last season, especially down the stretch.
While these games in the heat of summer against competition that doesn’t measure up to Power Five schools don’t really show us what this team is truly capable of, the signs were very positive ones and there is good reason to expect a lot more from the 2023 men’s hoopsters than what we saw in 2022.