Kent yet to set starters for tourney
Now that the Oregon men’s basketball team has concluded both exhibition games with victories over Concordia and Lewis & Clark, the Ducks still have plenty of questions to answer as they head into this weekend’s Basketball Travelers Tip-Off Tournament here in Eugene.
With games officially starting to count on Oregon’s record, 13th-year head coach Ernie Kent will have his work cut out for him in practice this week as he must establish a starting rotation. Throughout the exhibition games, Kent played all 15 men on his roster, but he will have to cut that number nearly in half as the regular season approaches.
“We’ve played a lot of people in these two games,” Kent said. “One thing we have to do is settle on a starting lineup and we’ll do all those things this week with games starting to
Without a single player staying on the court for more than 25 minutes in each game, Kent hopes that as players stay in for longer periods of time, some of the teams shooting woes will decrease. The Ducks shot 38-of-87 in the preseason opener and 31-of-65 Sunday, but Kent said that in order for the team to play at the pace he and the coaching staff want, it will take strong depth from the Oregon bench.
“I think with the way we want to play, it’s going to be nine, 10 men deep pretty easily,” Kent said.
The biggest question surrounding the team at this point is who the starting five will be come Friday night, as well as setting the rotation for the beginning of the season.
“We come to practice every day ready to work,” junior forward LeKendric Longmire said. “It’s a competition out there and everybody wants to play. The truth of the matter is, when it really gets rolling you can’t play 15 guys with good rhythm and good continuity to the game.”
Longmire has been all over the court for the Ducks early on with 19 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block through two games. Longmire says that his role on the team is to, “be able to do everything.”
“I can score the ball,” he said. “But I just want to be an all around player, a guy that can get those rebounds and get those assists and disrupt the game.”
While Longmire and seniors Tajuan Porter and Joevan Catron have shown that they are ready to lead the Ducks, newcomers Malcolm Armstead and Jamil Wilson have made an immediate impact on the court as well.
Through two games, Armstead has scored 17 points to go along with his 10 assists and six rebounds, while Wilson has contributed 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting.
“He’s a very steady-headed point guard,” Kent said of Armstead. “He’s probably separated himself at that position a little bit.”
Armstead will undoubtedly have to share time with Porter at the point, but Kent said that the combination of the two together could be good.
Kent also added the sophomore guard Garrett Sim will be a nice complement to either Armstead or Porter, but he likes having Sim at shooting guard to be able to utilize his speed down the sidelines.
And while the team does feature a handful of newcomers, Armstead said that there isn’t a practice that goes by that they don’t bring up last year’s 8-23 overall finish.
“I still feel like I’m a part of that,” Armstead said. “This is basically the same team except a few players left, so we’re just trying to not let the same thing happen.”
Longmire concluded with a similar message.
“I can’t wait to get started,” he said. “To put last year behind us, and the only way we can do that is to come out strong this weekend and go 3-0.”
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