Desperate times call for desperate measures. Having lost three of the five games played without starting point guard Dominic Artis, the Oregon men’s basketball team needed answers at the point guard position. On Wednesday against Washington, playing without a still-hurt Artis, the Ducks found some solutions.
Once-reserve, now-starter Johnathan Loyd had been a nonfactor in the scoring department before Wednesday, and Oregon had been hovering around 20 turnovers per game with him as the primary ball handler. Against the Huskies, the Ducks tried something at point guard they had not done before — they eliminated it.
During a seven-minute stretch to close the first half, the Ducks played without the only available point guards on the roster (Loyd and Willie Moore) and elected for a super-sized lineup with forward E.J. Singler handling the ball and playing up top on defense.
Ahead by just three at 19-16 after 13 minutes of play, Dana Altman elected to premier a lineup that had not been seen all season from his squad. 6-foot-6, 215-pound forward E.J. Singler became the pseudo-point guard while Damyean Dotson remained true to his position at shooting guard. Carlos Emory, Ben Carter and Waverly Austin at 6’5, 6’8 and 6’11 rounded out the front court. After toying with those pawns for a while, Altman subbed in Arsalan Kazemi and Tony Woods for Carter and Austin (both equal in height).
This lineup of big men worked very well for Oregon as the Ducks would extend their lead to nine at 33-24 before a UW three in the last minute of the half cut the margin to six.
At the half, Oregon’s previously used point guards of Loyd and Moore had combined for zero points and zero assists with two turnovers.
In the second half, seemingly motivated by the knowledge that even he was replaceable, Loyd found an offensive groove. The tiny guard scored a season high 11 points, all in the second half. His 4-for-6 shooting mark in the second half was a vast improvement over his season average of around 30 percent.
A recurrent theme reared its head again for Loyd though, as he went to the deck for the third time in four games with an injury. Loyd landed harshly on his knee and stayed on the floor for a few minutes before limping to the bench. Indications are that he is doing fine, but if he is unable to go against Washington State on Saturday, the big lineup with Singler assuming point guard responsibilities could be adopted in a much larger form.