2016-17 Pac-12 Preview: #1 Oregon Ducks

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Oregon Ducks


Head Coach:
Dana Altman
Overall Record: 31-7
Conference Record: 14-4 (1st in the Pac-12)
2015-16 Pomeroy Rating: #12 (1st in the Pac-12)
2015-16 Sagarin Rating: #12 (1st in the Pac-12)
Overall Off. Adj. Efficiency: #13
Overall Def. Adj. Efficiency: #37
Overall Scoring Average: 78.7 ppg (4th)
Overall Scoring Defense: 68.8 ppg (2nd)
Conference Scoring Average: 77.8 ppg (4th)
Conference Scoring Defense: 70.9 ppg (3rd)

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Summary:

The least surprising projection is putting defending Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament champion in the No. 1 spot preseason.  While the Ducks have lost one of the chief cogs in the Quack machine, in Elgin Cook, along with key rotation player Dwayne Benjamin, everyone else is back and the Ducks even add a few key players who should more than make up for the loss of Cook and Benjamin.

It all starts with Dillon Brooks, the Ducks’ MVP in 2015-16.  Brooks hasn’t played in early games this season, as he recovers from a foot injury; that has caused Oregon to lose a road game at Baylor.  But the Ducks have plenty of talent outside of Brooks, including Tyler Dorsey, Chris Boucher, and Jordan Bell:

Dana Altman has demonstrated year after year that he is capable of putting together teams that contend for Pac-12 titles and for NCAA Tournament berths.  This team should be crowned jewel.  Once Dillon Brooks gets back, it’s unclear who is good enough to beat them.

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The Back Court:

The most boring guy on Oregon’s roster is also their most steady: last season Casey Benson under one time per game; his 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio was among the best in the country.  Oregon needed Benson to step up and take the bulk of point guard minutes; he rose to the occasion.  This season, Benson gets serious help: former Villanova starting point guard Dylan Ennis is finally healthy; with Benson on the court, he’ll be more of a play-maker; without Benson, he can take over point guard duties.  Also on hand will be blue chip recruit Payton Pritchard, who is off to a fast start for Oregon.

What separates Oregon is the dual punch of perimeter and post dominance.  Oregon boasts perhaps the top pair of wings in the country in Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey.  Brooks is Mr. Everything out to about 16 feet.  Dorsey has reined in his out of control game from high school, and turned himself into one of the most efficient wings in the country, never forcing things, taking what the defense gives him, with his consistent outside and ability to drive to hole and finish strong.  Add to the mix, blue chip recruit Keith Smith (from Rainier Beach), nicknamed “the young Brooks.”

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The Front Court:

Oregon’s front court tandem of Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell represents perhaps the best shot block combo in the Pac-10/12 in a generation. Each one set individual Oregon records for blocks over the last two seasons. And Oregon is now adding to that mix the top shot blocker in the Juco ranks from 2016: Kavell Bigby-Williams.

Boucher is the gem of the front court. At nearly 7-feet, Boucher is not only an intimidating defender, but has developing a surprising, multi-faceted offensive game. Boucher has always been able to hit open 3s; now he’s added some post up moves to the mix.

Jordan Bell is more of a conventional power player down low. His post game has come around a little but, but he hurts you more with transition dunks and put back. English-native Bigby-Williams is more in the mold of Bell, but his offensive game is as of yet still more undeveloped.

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Conclusion:

There’s just far, far too much talent and proven skill on this Oregon team to rank them anywhere but No. 1 heading into the season.

Whether the Ducks will be able to pull off another regular season and conference tournament title, and then translate that into a Final Four appearance, will depend on how some of the guys develop over the season and how much luck the Ducks have.  Oregon missed the Final Four last season because Buddy Hield went nuts.  If that doesn’t happen, who knows?  Maybe Oregon wins the National Title.

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Projected Lineup:

G Casey Benson
G Tyler Dorsey
W Dillon Brooks
F Chris Boucher
F Jordan Bell

 

LINK: Back to 2016-17 Pre-season Pac-12 Preview & Projections

 

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