For the first nine weeks of the season, the Oregon Ducks were without starting point guard Will Richardson who had left thumb surgery right as the season began.
During that time, UNLV transfer guard Amauri Hardy saw ample playing time including starting the first 12 games and playing at least 27 minutes nine times.
But when Richardson returned, Altman relied on the junior to get Oregon into its sets and Hardy became the backup point guard. However, Richardson ended up playing the majorities of games, finishing with at least 31 minutes played in all but one appearance this season.
To close the season, Richardson played back-to-back 40 minute games to secure the second consecutive Pac-12 regular-season Pac-12 Championship.
That will not be viable during the Pac-12 Tournament that will require the Ducks to win three games in three days to earn the Pac-12 automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year.
In the 91-73 win over Arizona State in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, Hardy played 19 minutes: his highest total in exactly a month, coincidentally another win over Arizona State on February 11th.
The former third-team all-Mountain West Conference guard finished with 11 points, two off of his season-high, on 5-7 shooting from the field to go with four rebounds. Hardy pushed the pace in transition and most of his damage came when attacking the basket.
"Amauri really took it to the hole strong," commented head coach Dana Altman following the game.
"When we get stops and we are able to run out, it gives us offensive momentum," added Hardy.
Altman later commended Hardy for his unselfish demeanor since having his minutes decreased along with being credited with helping Oregon stay afloat until Richardson was healthy.
"Will didn't play the first nine weeks... and Amauri did a great job of leading us through that," said Altman.
Now his role has changed and his unselfishness and him being all about the team has helped us.
"He's our first guard off the bench, and tonight he really got to the hole strong. He took it in there strong. He was a little down in the first half because he had a couple of turnovers, got a little straight up and down on those, but second half he really came back and really made solid plays."
Hardy looked right at home in Las Vegas where he averaged 14.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game as a junior for UNLV in 2019-20.
"When we landed, I felt pretty much at home," explained Hardy with a grin. "I spent a good deal of time here when I was at UNLV. It felt good. I've played in this arena a couple of times when I was in college."
Additionally, despite the changing role, Hardy is loving being a Duck.
"I've enjoyed it a lot. Just being on a winning team. Just embracing the opportunity to be able to play here, embracing the journey," said Hardy. "Just being selfless in this whole experience and just enjoying it each and every day."
Hardy and the Oregon Ducks will take on the winner of Oregon State and UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals at 5:00 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Network.