The Ducks need Dominic Artis back. The Oregon men’s basketball team knows it, fans know it and other teams know it. The Ducks have absolutely no scoring threat from the point guard position, illustrated again in Thursday’s loss to Colorado.
With Artis in the lineup for six Pac-12 games, Oregon was scoring 72.3 points per game. Without Artis and with Johnathan Loyd starting in his place, UO is scoring 58.5 points per game. Artis’ 10.2 points per contest have gone entirely un-replaced, and the Ducks’ fill-ins at the point guard spot aren’t producing.
“Obviously D.A. is a big part of our game, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” senior forward E.J. Singler said.
Loyd and Willie Moore again shared the point position against Colorado with Loyd notching 32 minutes while Moore played eight. Between the two of them, only two points were scored, and they weren’t from the starter. Loyd was 0-for-7 from the field, and Moore knocked down one of his two shots. During the losing skid, opposing teams have often times been leaving Loyd open, and the diminutive speedster has done nothing to change opponents’ strategies. All the shots he took against the Buffaloes were easy looks, and none of them went through the hoop. His poor shooting has virtually created an offensive situation in which five defenders only have to cover four players.
Beyond the lack of points from the one guard, the rest of the team’s scoring has suffered immensely without Artis’ distribution abilities. In the Ducks’ loss to Stanford, no starter achieved his scoring average. Against California, only three players made their scoring marks. Versus Colorado, only two did it — Singler and Emory.
“D.A. spreads the floor; you got to stay on him,” head coach Dana Altman said. “With our inability to hit perimeter shots, not only by Johnny and Willie but by other players, it makes it very tough to drive to the basket or throw the ball inside.”
Loyd shot two airballs from beyond the arc but played well on defense, notching three steals and one block (his fourth of the season). Moore had one steal but failed to defend (especially on closeouts) as well as Loyd.
After Loyd and Moore there are no other true point guards on Oregon’s roster. E.J. Singler had been discussed as an emergency option, and Fred Richardson III is more of a shooting guard.
“We don’t have anybody else,” Altman said. “Those two guys (Loyd and Moore) are going to have to handle it and do a good job with it.”
When asked if he knew when Artis might return to play from an undisclosed foot injury, Altman said, “I do not. Soon as the doctors clear him we will play him.”