Troy Brown

Kenny Wooten is throwing a block party, and everyone is invited

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Kenny Wooten is throwing a block party, and everyone is invited

How Oregon won: Two freshmen didn’t quite look like freshmen tonight vs. Washington. Kenny Wooten and Troy Brown Jr., stepped up in a huge way on both ends of the court. Wooten hosted himself a block party and finished with a career-high seven blocks. Whereas  Brown found his stroke and caught fire from the field finishing with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. These two set the tone for the Ducks (16-8, 6-5 Pac-12) to a 65-40 beating over Washington Huskies (17-7, 7-4 Pac-12) at Matthew Knight Arena Thursday evening.

After the game, Brown said, “Well for me personally, I felt that it was a great win. I feel like it was something we need to keep on doing and just build on at this point. I feel like the Stanford loss is something that really gave us an awakening at this point in time…. right now we just need to get back on board. We needed that win, that significant win, and we just got to come out Sunday and keep on building from there.”

The defensive effort from Oregon started on the very first possession. Oregon forced Washington into an immediate shot clock violation that set the tone throughout the entire game.

“Our coach told us that we had to work hard on defense,” said Wooten. “So I just tried to give the maximum amount of effort I could.”

One block was enough for the Huskies as a lurking Wooten was ready pounce on any given drive.

Brown said of Wooten’s shot-blocking capabilities, “After that, it changed the game a lot. They just seemed very timid heading to the basket. They were all kind of pump-faking, and it just changed the game a lot.”

What it means: Let’s flashback to last Saturday afternoon when the Ducks were in Palo Alto facing the Stanford Cardinal. The final score 96-61 Cardinal victory, a 35-point deficit, and expressionless Ducks hitting the road due north. 

The only solution to bounce back from a loss like that? Flush it and move on. And that is exactly what the Ducks did tonight. Quite the opposite team play from last Saturday to know. Call it good coaching or a good week of practice, but these Ducks came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. 

Now, the tough question remains: which team is going to show up to each game? A lost, confused team vs. Stanford or an energetic, diving after loose balls team tonight. Consistency will be a big challenge moving forward for Altman and the Ducks.

Brown said, “I feel like we flushed it very easily. I felt like coach Altman did a good job of just kind of keeping us motivated. He didn’t dwell on it. It was kind of one of those things where we know we are better than that and we have to show it. So we kind of just moved on from it and it worked out for the best.”

High flying Ducks: Besides the remarkable play from the two freshmen Wooten and Brown, sophomore guard Payton Pritchard finished with 12 points and dished out eight assists, half of the team total in assists. Redshirt senior Mikyle McIntosh was one rebound and one basket away from yet another double-double. He finished with eight points and nine rebounds.

Foul play: Redshirt junior Paul White finished with four fouls.

Up next: The Ducks host the Washington State Cougars (9-14, 1-10 Pac-12) at 5 PM (PT) this Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon basketball team reloaded for success

USA Today

Oregon basketball team reloaded for success

Oregon's basketball team won't match last year's run to the Final Four after losing seven of the team's best nine players. 

However, this season's squad will be darn good and could hint toward at possible run at returning to the Final Four the following season.  

The Ducks begin non-conference play at 9 p.m., Friday night at home against Coppin State. Oregon coach Dana Altman will have his work cut out for him this season to mold together a group of mostly strangers in time for when Pac-12 play begins on Dec. 29 against Utah. 

Gone are four NBA players. Dillon Brooks (Memphis Grizzlies), Jordan Bell (Golden State Warriors), Tyler Dorsey (Atlanta Hawks) and Chris Boucher (Golden State Warriors), along with Dylan Ennis (graduated), Casey Benson (transfer) and Kavell Bigby-Williams (transfer). 

Such departures would destroy most programs for at least a season., but seemingly not Oregon, which has pulled off one of the greatest reloading adventures of all time. The only real question is if this collection of new talent can come together in time to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. 

"I think we can have a good offensive team if we make shots for each other," UO coach Dana Altman told reporters following a recent exhibition game. "I don't think this can be a team where (players say) 'I'm going to go make a play this time.'  We've got to move it... Our guys just haven't figured that out yet."

That will take time given all of the new faces. Sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard is the only returning regular rotation player. Sophomore forward Keith Smith played minimal minutes last season. 

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True freshmen, forwards Troy Brown, a five-star recruit, and Kenny Wooten, and freshman Victor Bailey Jr. will be instant impact players. Transfer forward Paul White, who sat out last season, and new transfers, guard Elijah Brown and forward Mikyle McIntosh, will contribute in a variety of ways. Then there's also freshman forward Abu Kigab, redshirt freshman forward M.J. Cage and senior center Roman Sorkin.

That's quite a bit of talent to work with that will create opportunities for Altman to play several different types of lineups. 

But, again, they must all mesh together and learn to play team basketball in order for the Ducks, picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12, to be successful.

No worries. Altman has proven in the past that he is deft at taking a batch of new talent and getting them to play together on defense and on offense. It often takes a bit of time. But once the project is complete, the results typically prove to be spectacular. 

"We've got potential." Altman said. "But we've got a tremendous amount of work to do."

Oregon basketball picked to finish fourth in Pac-12

Oregon basketball picked to finish fourth in Pac-12

Media members who cover the Pac-12 picked defending champion Oregon to finish fourth in the Pac-12.

Arizona was picked to win the conference title. Oregon State is picked to finish eighth. 

Considering that Oregon, which reached the Final Four last season, lost Jordan Bell, Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Chris Boucher to the NBA, along with Dylan Ennis, being picked to finish fourth is quite complimentary. 

The Ducks return one impact player, sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard, leaving coach Dana Altman to rebuild with a few other young returners, transfers and a loaded recruiting class that includes five-star guard Troy Brown

Oregon will play Northwest Christian in an exhibition game on Nov. 30 before opening the regular season Nov. 20 at home against Coppin State.

Pac-12 conference play begins Dec. 29. The Pac-12 Tournament will be held Mar. 7-10 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. 


  Team (First Place) Points
1. Arizona (22) 273
2. USC (1) 251
3. UCLA 223
4. Oregon 203
5. Stanford 182
6. Arizona State 146
7. Utah 129
8. Oregon State 125
9. Colorado 112
10. Washington 71
11. California 46
12. Washington State 33