WSU Vs. Oregon: First Look At The Ducks

Head Coach: Dana Altman (416-251, 22nd season overall, 1st at Oregon)

Record: 7-8 (No. 114 KenPom ranking)

Adjusted tempo: 69.7 (84th nationally)

Best victory: 72-70 over No. 109 UC Santa Barbara at home

Worst loss: 75-71 to No. 185 San Jose State

Altman comes to Eugene to take over for Ernie Kent after 16 seasons at Creighton. He's got his work cut out for him, as Kent's departure also prompted a talent purge from the program. Among the five players classified as "major" or "significant" contributors by kenpom.com last season, Tajuan Porter, Michael Dunigan and LeKendric Longmire are all gone. This is a rebuilding job in the truest sense of the word, as Altman tries not only to restock the cupboard, but transition to a different style of play.

Offense: 101.1 adjusted efficiency (158th); 44.8 eFG% (294th); 17.9 TO% (40th); 32.8 OR% (181st); 33.0 FTR (269th)

This is the second-worst offense in the conference, and it's easy to see why. We talk a lot about how basketball really usually just comes down to how well you shoot, and the Ducks are a great example of that. This is the worst shooting team in the Pac-10 -- the Ducks hit on just 30 percent of their 3s and 44.7 percent of their 2s (47.7 is average). They don't turn the ball over, which is about the only thing keeping this offense afloat.

The bulk of Oregon's offensive production comes from one player: Joevan Catron (who seems like he's been at Oregon for a decade) Catron is a wide body in the frontcourt who uses an array of savvy moves around the basket to overcome his generously listed 6-foot-6 stature. He's also an excellent offensive rebounder. Catron was a force early in the year, but struggled a bit in the opening weekend of Pac-10 play before performing well against UW.  

The other two players who use the most possessions, Malcolm Armstead and Jeremy Jacob, are both below average offensive players. E.J. Singer, who still lives on in WSU fans' nightmares, is the Ducks' most efficient scorer (122.8 offensive rating), but he only uses 18 percent of the possessions when he's on the floor and was a virtual non-factor in the Ducks' first three Pac-10 games. 

Normally, a team that doesn't turn the ball over much -- a la Butler -- can give the Cougs a lot of trouble. But the Ducks are just so poor on the perimeter. Expect to see a ton of zone to neutralize Catron and force Oregon to shoot a bunch from beyond the arc.

Defense: 95.9 adjusted efficiency (89th); 50.7 eFG% (223rd), 22.6 TO% (83rd), 32.0 OR% (144th), 38.6 FTR (183rd)

This is where Altman's influence has been felt immediately. The good news is that Ducks are dramatically improved on this end of the floor. The bad news is that this is still the second-worst defensive outfit in the conference in terms of defensive efficiency. The turnovers the Ducks force mask what is an incredibly poor shooting defense -- they give up 38.3 percent from beyond the arc, 299th nationally.

WSU is one of the best teams in the conference at taking care of the basketball. There's no reason to think that Oregon will be able to impose its will on the Cougs in that respect, so unless the Cougs just have an especially bad shooting night -- which, we know, is always a possibility -- there's little reason to believe they won't have a big offensive game.

Overall: All signs point to a blowout win for the Cougs. But we all know how that goes when the opponent is Oregon. 

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