By Rob Moseley
Two days after a performance senior point guard Johnathan Loyd called “terrible,” the Oregon men’s basketball team got back to work.
The Ducks had to overcome a halftime deficit to beat Point Loma in an exhibition game Saturday. Afterward, UO coach Dana Altman said his team’s “attention to detail, our focus, is not what it needs to be. There's not that sense of urgency, to get ready for a big game. Hopefully that changes this week."
Monday’s practice was the first test of that. The results apparently weren’t overwhelming.
“We’re just not very sharp,” Altman said following the workout.
There were three more chances for the Ducks to find that sense of urgency, prior to Friday’s regular-season opener against Georgetown in the Armed Forces Challenge at Camp Humphreys in South Korea. Oregon was to practice Tuesday through Thursday, leading up to Friday’s 5 p.m. tip on ESPN.
The Ducks made the trip without sophomores Dominic Artis and Ben Carter, who were suspended for violating NCAA rules. Still up in the air at departure time Tuesday was the status of injured trio Mike Moser, Damyean Dotson and Jalil Abdul-Bassit, none of whom played against Point Loma.
Their absences might have served to dampen the significance of the scare in that exhibition game. But all three participated to some extent Monday, and Altman’s concerns remained.
“You want to set your standards high,” he said. “And you want guys to live up to it. We’ve just got a long ways to go. If we have any aspirations of doing anything, there’s a certain way you’re going to have to do things. E.J. (Singler) and Arsalan (Kazemi) set a pretty good tone last year.”
Guys like Dotson and Moser might be expected to fill that leadership void, were it not for their injuries. Their absence in recent practices has opened up a chance for others to step up.
The 19th-ranked Ducks enter Friday’s opener looking to build off a 28-9 season in which they won the Pac-12 tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas were 25-7 a year ago, and return four starters from a team that won the Big East’s regular-season title.
While Georgetown is the unranked team of the two in the preseason polls, Altman has hammered home the point that the Hoyas’ experience makes Oregon the underdog Friday.
Along with a chance to break in a new roster that includes six transfers, the Ducks will get to experience life on a military base.
“I think it means a lot,” Dotson said. “It’s a big game for us to show where we’re at, and to get to play in front of our troops.
Altman, whose father served in the Navy, called it “an honor to be asked” to play at Camp Humphreys.
“We’ve talked to our players about the great sacrifice those young men and women are making, a lot of them the same age as our guys,” Altman said. “It’s something that a lot of us are not willing to do and so we’ve got to honor those people who are willing to make that sacrifice.
"It’s great for our team to go over and see – not only our players, but our staff, everyone – the sacrifice those men and women are making for us so that we can live the quality of life that we do.”