Oregon Men’s Basketball No. 21 deals with injuries early in the season

Oregon has yet to play a game and its roster has already taken a beating.

When the No. 21 Ducks open the men’s basketball season on Monday with a 7 p.m. game against Florida A&M at Matthew Knight Arena, they’ll have almost as many stock players unavailable as those in uniform.

“I don’t know if we’ll get anyone to play,” coach Dana Altman said with a smirk last Thursday. “So, we’ll see.”

It’s certainly not how Altman was hoping to debut his rebuilt squad, which lost five players from the 2021-22 squad that underperformed its way to a 20-15 record and second-place loss. national invitational tournament round.

But in true Altman form, the 12th-year coach added four highly rated transfers and a 5-star freshman in the offseason to join three returning starters — point guard Will Richardson, forward Quincy Guerrier and center N’Faly Dante – and key supplies in center Nate Bittle and guard Rivaldo Soares.

It’ll just be a little longer before fans see much of this group on the floor.

Altman said Soares, transfer guards Jermaine Couisnard and Brennan Rigsby, and returning substitute forwards Lök Wur and Ethan Butler will miss Monday’s game.

Couisnard, a redshirt senior who averaged 12.0 points, 3.2 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game last season for South Carolina, underwent knee surgery last season. last week and is away for a long time.

The others should come back sooner rather than later.

The availability of freshman Kel’el Ware, a 7-foot and all-American center from McDonald’s, will be a decision at game time on Monday, Altman said.

Warrior and Bittle also lacked time with injuries this fall.

Altman said the lack of a full squad present for practice was frustrating.

“It affects everything,” he said. “It affects the practice, mainly. We just don’t do what we need to. We had a crazy October here, just a lot of guys. … We just have to make progress. We’re just way behind where we should be. We just didn’t have time to practice with enough guys to get reps.

The Ducks will rely on the senior management of Richardson, Dante and Guerrier in the first few weeks as they return to health. They also added veteran guard Keesawn Barthelemy and guard Tyrone Williams, who was the national junior college scoring leader last season.

Keesawn Barthelemy of Oregon shoots teammate Tyrone Williams during an open practice Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.

“We know we can throw the ball to Dante and we will do that a bit,” Altman said. “We know Will and Keesawn can handle it, so their experience will come in handy there. Quincy has always been productive when he goes inside and rebounds and reaches the rim a bit. So these are data due to their experience.

Florida A&M coach Robert McCullum served as Oregon’s assistant under Altman from 2014 to 2017 until he took the job in Tallahassee.

This is the third time McCullum has brought his team to Eugene. The Rattlers lost 87-66 in an empty Matthew Knight Arena in a December game of the 2020-21 season, and lost 71-64 in December of the 2018-19 season.

They were 13-17 last season.

“They’ll play hard, I know that,” Altman said. “He will make them play hard and he will make them play together.”

Altman said the Ducks will have to do the same when they get back to full strength.

“Here early on we’ll just have to prepare some and bring the guys forward, and try to buy some time offensively with the new guys,” he said. “Again, there is no magic wand and it is going to take a long time in training.”

Follow Chris Hansen on Twitter@chansen_RG or by e-mail atchansen@registerguard.com.

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