Recent play of graduate transfers Elijah Brown and MiKyle McIntosh key for Oregon’s success
Oregon head coach Dana Altman expected more out of graduate transfers Elijah Brown and MiKyle McIntosh this season. The duo came to Oregon to provide a veteran presence and leadership to a team that had lost four of its five starters during the offseason, but the two have struggled to fill that void and have each had their share of poor games this season.
But that’s changed in the past several weeks. McIntosh and Brown are both playing their best basketball of the season and are finally starting to look like the players Altman thought he was getting. The two have also had a massive hand in getting Oregon’s near-lost season back on track. But with Oregon sitting at 19-10 and 9-7 in the Pac-12 with two games remaining in conference play, Altman just hopes that their efforts haven’t come too late.
“I wish that sense of urgency would have hit them a long time ago,” Altman said. “They’re seniors and fifth-year guys but they are focused. They are playing hard.”
Over the last several weeks, McIntosh and Brown raised their level of play with Oregon facing do-or-die situations.
Over the Ducks’ last five games, a stretch where Oregon went 3-2 but played as well as it has all season, McIntosh averaged 18 points and 5.6 rebounds per game and shot 53 percent from the field. His 20 point-effort against Arizona on Saturday tied the second-most points he’s scored in a game this season and was vital in closing out the Wildcats.
Brown played an even bigger role on Saturday. He scored a season-high 30 points, upstaging his 19-point, seven-rebound showing against Arizona State on Thursday, and which brought his scoring output over the last three games to 68 points, or 22.6 points per game. He’s second on the team in scoring at 13.6 per game.
Their recent efforts have not gone unnoticed.
“They’re playing basketball the way they should. I feel like they’re playing confidently,” freshman Troy Brown said. ‘Elijah scored 30 last game and I feel like they’re being more like leaders on this team and stepping up when we need them to. I feel like they’ve done a great job.”
Always a critic, Altman did express some frustrations in their performances against Arizona. He chastised McIntosh for getting a technical foul and harped on Brown for his sometimes questionable shot selection.
“Elijah takes some bad shots and does some things that really irritate me,” Altman said. “But he hit some free throws and made some big plays. …. Sometimes, you shake your head at the things he does. MiKyle gets a technical, I was disappointed in him there and I let him know.”
Still, even Altman couldn’t deny the importance of their recent contributions as Oregon prepares to hit the road for its final weekend series of the year in Washington.
“When Elijah is on offensively, it makes such a tremendous difference for our ball club. He spreads the floor, gets everybody going,” Altman said. “Like I said, MiKyle has been pretty consistent during the conference season.
“But they’ve given us a big lift. They’ve given us maturity, MiKyle has given us some physicality. They’ve really helped us, no doubt.”
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris
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