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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 18th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Oregon Ducks


Overall Rank: #56

Conference Rank: #5 Pac-10


2005-06: 15-18, 7-11, 7th

2005-06 postseason: none


Oregon has had the talent to make the NCAAs the last two years.  However, two years ago Coach Ernie Kentís squad didnít even make the Pac-10 tournament and last year a 15-18 record kept the Ducks off the NITs call list.  Youth will not be an acceptable excuse anymore and anything but an NCAA bid will put even more pressure on Coach Kent to update his resume.


Whoís Out: Super juco recruit Ivan Johnson was supposed to come in and answer all of the Ducks frontcourt problems.  While he did contribute 7.5 points and 3.2 boards and showed flashes of greatness, his overall effect was disappointing.  Even more disappointing is the fact that Johnson is not returning to Eugene.  Center Matt Short has run out of eligibility after seeing limited minutes in 11 games last year.  The backcourt will lose Brandon Lincoln and Kenny Love.  Lincoln started 13 contests and averaged 6.1 points during his senior campaign and Loveís playing time was limited to just five games due to a knee injury.


Whoís In: Up front, newcomers Frantz Dorsainvil and Joevan Catron will provide some depth.  Dorsainvil, a transfer from Vincennes University in Indiana, averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds last year and is expected to contribute immediately.  Catron is a solid low post scorer and, despite being undersized at 6-6, has plenty of strength to battle with the best of the big guys in the Pac-10.  The return of Mitch Platt will spark some interesting playing time battles up front.  Platt started 24 games in 2004-2005 before missing all of last season while recovering from multiple left foot surgeries.  The backcourt doesnít need much from the newcomers, but Churchill Odia, LaKendric Longmire and Tajuan Porter will battle for some minutes off the bench.  Odia saw limited action for Xavier as a freshman before transferring to Oregon and the 6-6 guard will be groomed to take over the point guard duties next year.  That is unless fellow newcomer Tajuan Porter proves to be a better option.  At 5-7, Porter only has the size to run the point, but heís really a scorer first.  Heíll have to work on creating shots for himself and his teammates, but should get a chance for some minutes off the bench as a freshman.  LeKendric Longmire will fit nicely into the Duckís style of play.  The 6-5 wing is a big time threat in the open court and will be another exciting perimeter player for Oregon.


Who to Watch: Everybody on the perimeter is fun to watch.  Malik Hairston is the teamís best player and averaged 15.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists as a sophomore in 2005-2006.  Hairston arrived amid high expectations and maybe as an upperclassman he can start to turn his solid play into a better team effort.  Aaron Brooks will return for his senior season after flirting with transferring.  The 6-0 senior is a good point guard and has always had the potential to be great with a little more consistency.  Chamberlain Oguchi came on strong at the end of the year.  Heís a solid long range shooter and if Oguchi picks up where he left off, Bryce Taylor will be relegated to the bench.  Taylor started 13 games last year before being slowed by knee injuries and the emergence of Oguchi. 


Final Projection: The newcomers will drastically improve the depth of the frontcourt, but there are some returning players who could be starting once again.  Maarty Leunen had an impressive sophomore campaign, averaging 7.2 points and a team high 6.1 rebounds.  The 6-9, Redmond, Oregon native can step out and hit the long ball, but will be most valuable for the Ducks grabbing boards under the basket.  At 7-0 and 235 pounds, center Ray Schafer has the potential to be a special player.  Heís athletic and has quick feet for his size, but after two years with Oregon, the production hasnít been there.  Duck fans hope that it will come this season.  One would think that the group of juniors and seniors that have been the core of this team for a couple years would develop nice chemistry.  However, 11 different players started at least two games last year and Coach Kent has never seemed to settle on a starting five.  That doesnít help the chemistry, even if it does increase confidence for those who should be spending the season coming off the bench.  With a little help in the frontcourt and players who know their roles, there is no way this team should miss the NCAAs.  One of those might happen, but both are doubtful.  And that leaves the Ducks swimming to the NIT.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT


Projected Starting Five:

Aaron Brooks, Senior, Guard, 10.8 points per game

Chamberlain Oguchi, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game

Malik Hairston, Junior, Guard, 15.0 points per game

Maarty Leunen, Junior, Forward, 7.2 points per game

Ray Schafer, Junior, Center, 4.0 points per game

57 Kansas State Ľ Complete List Ľ 55 Drexel

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