Notes: Injuries continue to plague Oregon as they return home
On Monday, Dana Altman joked about not having enough guys to practice.
“We didn’t have many guys at practice yesterday,” Altman said.
Currently, Oregon (7-2) has two potential starters out — Dylan Ennis (right foot) and Tyler Dorsey (left knee) — despite recently returning Jordan Bell (foot) in a loss to Boise State where he made all of his 17 minutes count with seven rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocks.
“He really looked like himself,” Dillon Brooks said. “He put in some great minutes. It’s great having him back.”
“He gave us really good minutes,” Altman said. “Didn’t take his minutes for granted, that’s for sure.”
Dorsey is expected to return soon considering his diagnosis ended up being minor, while Ennis, who recently tweeted out, “12-29-15,” is still targeting a late December, early January return date.
“It just brings us positive energy,” Brook said about the team getting closer to being healthy. “Getting ready for conference coming up.”
Starting guard Casey Benson also walked into Matthew Knight Arena the other day with four new stitches around his chin after suffering what could have been a lot worse face plant at Taco Bell Arena. Benson admitted he was lucky to come out of it the way he did and confirmed he’d play tonight against visiting UC Irvine.
Early in the season, injuries have been the focal point of discussion nationally when concerning the Ducks. Going 1-2 in the last three games, once No. 15 ranked Oregon has quickly slipped out of the AP Top 25. Regarding the two losses: Oregon got behind early, coughed up the ball 42 times and shot 43 percent from the floor (combined last three games), forcing them to fight back late.
From a macro level, most of Oregon’s troubles can almost directly be linked to the unlucky mixture of unexpected injuries and tough scheduling that was based on Altman’s assumption that he would be featuring a full, healthy veteran rotation.
“We scheduled up because we thought we were going to have a real veteran team, so we got our hands full.”
Since diverting from this assumption-based plan, Oregon’s managed to stay afloat behind the great play of Brooks, who’s averaging 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. Brooks, who already has a pair of double-doubles this season against Valparaiso and Fresno State, has filled the temporary void quite nicely, but there’s no doubt this team is ready to be healthy.
Against the Ant Eaters, who took the Ducks to overtime and battled tough against Louisville in the NCAA tournament last season, Chris Boucher and Bell are going to need to find a way to minimize 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye in the paint.
“He’s huge and he creates a lot of problems,” Altman said. “He’s playing much better offensively. He’ll be a handful.”
Against the 49ers, Oregon’s defense is going to need to keep an eye out for senior guard Nick Faust who has put up 16.2 points and 5.3 assists per game.
In the next two games though, this team will be looking to balance snapping its recent losing skid with the temptations of looking past these last three games before conference play.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim
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