by Rob Moseley
The date was Nov. 25, 1997, the opponent was Portland State and the venue was McArthur Court. Those were the details from Oregon's last loss in a home opener.
The UO men's basketball team has won 15 straight home openers since. The Ducks will attempt to make it 16 in a row Wednesday evening, when they host Western Carolina in Matthew Knight Arena (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
The game will be Oregon's first since opening the season last Friday with an 82-75, resume-building win over Georgetown in South Korea. And it will be the Ducks' first home game since nine-game suspensions were announced for point guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter, two sophomore projected starters.
"We've still got a lot of weapons," senior point guard Johnathan Loyd said. "Those are two big pieces, but we've still got a lot of weapons. We'll just have to fight through adversity until they get back."
The other weapons include a host of transfers, six of whom combined to score 66 of the Ducks' 82 points against the Hoyas. And that was without any production from junior wing Jalil Abdul-Bassit, who sat out with an ankle injury that further sapped Oregon's depth.
The Ducks got a perfect showing on 23 free-throw attempts from transfer guards Joseph Young and Jason Calliste, and some encouraging minutes from big man Richard Amardi. Those performances helped Oregon overcome the absence of Artis and Carter, and post an impressive win to open the year.
"It's just one game; we've won one game," UO coach Dana Altman said. "You watch that film closely, there's a tremendous amount of work our team needs to get on, and get on quickly."
Altman called the Catamounts, who went 14-19 last season, a potential 20-win team this season. Western Carolina returned all five starters, and thus, Altman said, "we're going to have to play our tails off" Wednesday night.
He'd like to see more cohesion on the defensive end — improved communication, and better reaction to passes.
"Right now they're a little too concerned with their guy, rather than stopping the other team," Altman said.
The coach was pleased with his team's rebounding effort in the opener. The Ducks overcame the presence of big UCLA transfer Josh Smith in the post to outrebound Georgetown, 40-32.
Wing Damyean Dotson led Oregon with eight of those rebounds, playing through a 1-of-8 shooting performance. The Ducks had 16 offensive rebounds, though they also allowed 14 by the Hoyas, another point of emphasis entering the home opener.
"We went to the offensive glass really well, and that kind of saved us," Loyd said. "But defensively, we weren't boxing out as good. We've just got to work on it."