Three things to look forward to for next Duck basketball season
The future is bright
Unlike last season, most of the current team will be returning next season. Oregon will be losing seniors and starters MiKyle McIntosh and Elijah Brown, compared to last season when the only returner was Payton Pritchard (then, just a freshman). At one point during the Pac-12 semifinals loss vs. No. 2 USC Friday night, Altman had four freshmen and one sophomore on the floor. That experience at such a young age will be greatly beneficial for the next few seasons.
Following the semifinals loss, Altman drew comparisons of this year's squad back to the 2014-2015 season. It was during that season that the Ducks made the Pac-12 championship game only to get beaten badly 80-52 by the Arizona Wildcats. Altman said the mood in that locker room was similar to that of Friday's 74-54 Pac-12 semifinals loss this season.
If this team is anything like that 2014-2015 squad, Ducks fans are in for another wild ride that may just end up in a deep March Madness run in a few years...
The Quack Attack is getting taller, deeper, and younger
Let's take a moment and recap what the Ducks have incoming next season. Ranked as the overall No. 2 class in the country, Ducks fans are in for something special brewing in Eugene: 7' 2", McDonalds All-American and five-star Bol Bol headlines this special four-man group, followed by another five-star prospect Louis King, and four-stars Will Richardson and Miles Norris.
Now how Altman will use these players and their individual skills and how they will mesh with the current young roster will be answered well into next season, but there is some serious star power headed to Eugene next season.
Dana Altman is a pretty dang good coach
Think about it. Only one returning starter from last year. A top-5 incoming recruiting class next season. A Pac-12 semifinals appearance after going 10-8 in conference play. Not too shabby for the Ducks coach since 2011. How Altman can take a group of freshman, two sophomores, one redshirt junior transfer who sat out last year, and two first-year seniors and somehow find a winning formula out of that is quite impressive.
Oregon, seeded at No. 6, took on Washington State in the first round. The Ducks had a poor offensive performance and shot the ball at just 39%. But a win is a win. Moving on to round two vs. No. 3 Utah, and the Ducks again underperformed on the offensive side of the ball shooting just 38%. But the Ducks escaped with an overtime win. And then came the semifinals game against No. 2 USC, and the Trojans were too much for the gassed Ducks as Oregon fell 74-54.
So how did Oregon pull out those two wins. In both games the Ducks underperformed shooting the ball or finding some offensive rhythm. Altman found a way to exploit certain matchups and encourage his players to keep fighting and grinding. It will be interesting how Altman puts the pieces together next season.