Underneath Gill Coliseum after another tough loss, Oregon head coach Dana Altman stood like a man without answers, methodically answering reporters questions about the state of his team.
“Everybody is really down,” Altman said. “We can’t change the last two weeks, we’ve lost four games but we’re a better basketball team than that — we’re going to have to bounce back and it’s going to be awfully difficult to do that.”
With Oregon’s recent loss, an 80-72 defeat to rival Oregon State, the Ducks have now dropped four games in a row after going through the preseason and beginning Pac-12 play with a perfect 13-0 record.
The Ducks don’t have much time to recover as they hit the road to the state of Washington for games against the Huskies and Cougars on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.
If Oregon is going to change their recent woes around, it’s going to start with the big men down low.
The Ducks have only one athlete over 6-foot-9 and that’s Waverly Austin, a 6-foot-11 player who has seen his minutes dwindle every game of the season and result in zero against Oregon State. Four other players stand at 6-feet-8 but only three of them — Mike Moser, Richard Amardi and Ben Carter — see any playing time.
The continued improvement of Carter and Amardi, especially in the Oregon State game, is going to be vital to the Ducks’ success because it’ll take the pressure off Moser from being the only low-block scorer. Carter and Amardi combined for 24 points and eight rebounds against the Beavers, largely doing their part to help out.
“I thought Ben did some good things,” Altman said. “Richard was playing really well and then he picks up a really stupid foul — again that’s fundamentals and he’s got to do a better job.”
While Moser did struggle against the Beavers, it should be noted that he was an all-American his sophomore season at UNLV and is Oregon’s leading rebounder while being second in scoring. He knows how to play the game and one poor showing shouldn’t define his resume up to this point.
The next step for the Ducks to get back to their winning ways is to find their offensive stroke.
Altman alluded to some of the players taking “uncharacteristic” shots in the first half of the game, or “trying to do too much,” that hurt Oregon on the offensive side of the ball, especially in a game they could have won.
What made the Ducks successful in the beginning of the season was the fact that they had between five and six guys averaging at least 11 points per game, making them almost unguardable because someone would always be able to score.
Point guard Johnathon Loyd was averaging 6.7 assists per game entering Pac-12 play but has seen the number drop to 4.2 once the conference season began. A lot of that can be attributed to the Ducks missing wide open shots and forcing the ball. Too many times, players like Moser, Damyean Dotson, Joseph Young and Jason Calliste passed on wide open three-points attempts to settle for a step-back contested jumper.
The talent is there. The effort is there, especially after the Oregon State game. If the Ducks can find a way to get some much-needed low-post minutes and find their offensive groove again, the losing streak could vanish. If Oregon can’t do those things, then buckle up because it’s going to a long season.
Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka