2008: 18-14 (9-9 Pac-10)
Lost to Mississippi State 76-69, NCAA first round
In-conference offense: 1.11 points per possession (2nd)
In-conference defense: 1.10 points allowed per possession (8th)
What Oregon did well: Make it to the tournament without playing defense.
It's junk-stat time, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to introduce a little something called "Offensive Dependence". It's a simple measure that tries to identify which teams are most dependent on scoring points for victory. It does this by crediting the deviation of offensive efficiency above average and defensive efficiency below average. Higher scores then denote which teams had both.
National Leaders, Offensive Dependence (adjusted figures used for efficiency)
Offensive Off. Eff./ Def. Eff./
Team Dependence Rank Rank
Oregon 16.2 120.2/ 6 99.6/131
Utah St. 16.1 113.1/44 106.6/240
IUPUI 14.9 114.9/34 103.6/195
California 14.6 117.6/16 100.7/152
UMBC 14.4 110.0/68 108.1/265
Oregon led the nation in his category by virtue of having an offense that was capable of scoring frequently enough to win a national title and a defense that was bad enough to prevent the Quack Attack from separating from its opponents. Note that you'll never see any national title contenders at the top of this stat or it's more boring brother, Defensive Dependence (in which Savannah State took the crown last season) because the great teams don't rely on either side of the ball very heavily. They have balance, something that Oregon hasn't acquired in a while.
What we learned in 2008: Aaron Brooks was not missed for the reasons we thought he would be.
Even in retrospect, it seems like the loss of Aaron Brooks to the NBA should have had a negative impact on Oregon's offense. Brooks was replaced by freshman Kamyron Brown at point guard and Brown was simply overwhelmed through most of the Pac-10 season. In turn, shooting guard Tajuan Porter found himself getting fewer open looks for his jump shot resulting in a marked decrease in offensive productivity from the backcourt.
But overall, Oregon's offense was nearly the same in 2008 as it was with Brooks in the lineup the season before. The defense is what crumbled. It's hard to say if Brooks was truly an impact player on the defensive. The meek defensive stats available don't hint at it (translation: he didn't have a high steal rate). However, in the one Pac-10 game he missed in '07, Oregon gave up a whopping 1.25 points per possession to a Washington team that wasn't an offensive juggernaut.
What's in store for 2009: There's a lot to be replaced from last season. Do-it-all wing Malik Hairston and Maarty Leunen, one of the best defensive rebounders in the game, both ended productive four-year careers at Oregon. Leunen actually became a scary-efficient scorer in his senior year, making 49 percent of his threes, 61 percent of his twos, and 79 percent of his free throws.
To top it off, Bryce Taylor, who split his time at the two and the three, also was a senior. All three started every game they appeared in last season. The roster is now stocked with a lot of freshmen (six, actually) and inexperienced players that have struggled in their young careers. Expect there to be a lot of learning opportunities in Eugene this season.
Meet the Ducks:
Tajuan Porter (5-6, 150, Jr.). Porter is your stereotypical power-conference player under six feet. He's not very effective inside the arc and he rarely shoots free throws. Since Porter plays the two-guard, his offensive damage is going to be done behind the three-point line. To that extent, it appeared that he was hurt by the loss of Aaron Brooks at the point last season. Porter's three-point percentage dropped from 44 to 36.
Joevan Catron (6-6, 235, Jr.). Catron will pick up some of the rebounding slack incurred by Leunen's vacancy. He'll do most his work around the rim, but he has decent touch when pushed away from the hoop. A lot of the offense should go through Catron this season.
Michael Dunigan (6-10, 235, Fr.). Dunigan comes from Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, the same institution that counts as alums one of the world's best hoopsters, Kevin Garnett, and one of the worst, Pat Sajak. Dunigan may not become Garnett, but he is highly-touted and is expected to start at center.
Kamyron Brown (6-2, 170, So.). Brown will run the point for Ernie Kent. He looked much like a freshman in that position last season, struggling with turnovers and shooting percentage, although he rarely shot. He may not have that luxury this season.
Ben Voogd (6-2, 175, Jr.). There's a lot of competition for shooting guard minutes behind Porter and the LSU transfer should get his opportunities off the bench. A couple of freshmen are also in the mix: Teondre Williams (6-4, 180, Fr.) and Matthew Humphrey (6-5, 175, Fr.).
LeKendric Longmire (6-5, 200, So.). The long-armed wing was one of three Ducks that shot worse than 40 percent from the free throw line. Fortunately, none of the trio took very many attempts. Longmire has more athleticism than most Pac-10 players but he could use it more effectively.
Churchill Odia (6-6, 210, Sr.). Odia was one of the most timid shooters in the country last season. When he does fire, it's going to be a three and he's made a third of those attempts in his three seasons of D-I ball.
Frantz Dorsainvil (6-8, 260, Sr.). Dorsainvil demonstrates the vagaries of junior college recruiting. He was expected to give Oregon a lift in the middle last season, but was glued to the bench after Catron came back from a foot injury in January.
Drew Wiley (6-6, 185, Fr.). In addition to Dunigan, Williams, and Humphrey, three other freshmen arrived in Eugene this season. Wiley might challenge Longmire for time at the wing. Josh Crittle (6-8, 225, Fr.) and Garrett Sim (6-1, 175, Fr.) may find the court as well.
Prospectus Says: Saying a team is rebuilding is cliché, but if it applies somewhere this season it's the 2009 edition of the Ducks. Porter and Catron are the only proven commodities. Dunigan has the potential to produce right away although his offense may need some work. Given the youth, the results this season will probably be better served in the context of projecting towards the future. Kent received a contract extension through the 2013 season this summer, and in his ten seasons at Oregon, he's had six players drafted. If he has another two go to the NBA out of this freshman class, then he should be around a while longer, regardless of Oregon's record this season.
Ken Pomeroy is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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